By Lynne Cooper
I attended the Rolls-Royce Science Prize awards evening on Monday (7 Nov 2011) at the Science Museum, London. I was really looking forward to hearing Professor Lord Robert Winston the keynote speaker who indeed lived up to expectation. However the real stars of the evening were the teachers I met who were all in the running for the prize. Entries ranged from building greenhouses out of CD cases to making and taste testing smoothies.
It was also great to catch up with teachers who had been on courses that I had led on. My day job is as a professional development leader devising and leading on a variety of courses and conferences at the National Science Learning Centre but I moonlight as a judge for the Rolls-Royce Science Prize. The other link is that for a school to be eligible to enter the Rolls- Royce Science Prize they must have sent a member of staff on a cpd course at the National Science Learning Centre or enter throug one of the network of Science Learning Centres. Not only do the winners receive £15,000 in prize money but the fifty merit award prize winners receive £1000 to go towards improving their science departments. I really enjoyed hearing tales recounted of the exciting high impact projects they did for the competition, as well as what the excited winners planned to do with the money.
And the winners are….
Staunton-on-Wye Endowed Primary School, Hereford, and Mulberry School for Girls, London, beat off competition from 2,000 UK schools to be declared this year’s joint winners. They each receive £15,000 in prize money to advance science teaching in their schools, along with the chance to spend the day with the Red Arrows display team. Presenting the awards, John Rishton, Rolls-Royce Chief Executive, said: “In the future, all of our lives will critically depend on the engineers, scientists and mathematicians who will discover how to produce enough low carbon energy to power the world, build planes that travel non-stop to the furthest corners of the world, using less fuel and travelling more quietly than any aircraft today. “
He went on to say “It is hard to think of a profession more important than teaching. The Rolls-Royce science prize was set up to recognise inspirational science teaching and reward outstanding teachers. I am extremely proud to award this year’s prize to two schools whose projects demonstrate that science teaching can be innovative, creative and fun. Both schools set a fantastic example and I congratulate them both.”
Staunton-on-Wye Primary School
Staunton-on-Wye Primary School
Pupils at Staunton-on-Wye Primary School carried out open ended investigations to research the environmental and social impacts of various building materials, which were then used to construct a play house in the school grounds. Staff, Parents, and local experts brought their skills in, which culminated in a local builder constructing the frame allowing pupils to build the walls and roof. The pupils also pitched to a local architect who helped them weigh the pros and cons of different materials .Science Co-ordinator, Karen Williams, said: “Our whole school has been immersed in exciting, practical science activities related to our Rolls-Royce project and our children have learned how to apply their knowledge and skills in the best way possible. We are all very proud of the house we have built and of the children’s commitment to using science responsibly.”
You can read their development diary and watch the video here.
Mulberry School for Girls
Mulberry School for Girls, London, Team Leader Deborah Colvin (centre front).
Mulberry School for Girls used a hydroponic greenhouse, powered by renewable energy to conduct experiments and learn about sustainable energy and food production. This was a very ambitious project in which the school also raised the money for the solar powered system. They involved students in harvesting and marketing the food, while another team researched the optimum conditions for the plants. Some feedback I had from the participants included
“The best thing was the opportunity to discuss the issues with colleagues”
“It was brilliant to bring people together who are passionate about solving the issues”
Director of STEM Learning for the school, Deborah Colvin, said: “It’s a great honour to accept this award on behalf of everyone at the school, whose hard work and dedication to science made the project possible. We shall invest the prize money wisely within the science department.”
Read about their progress and watch the video here.
The Rolls-Royce Science Prize is an annual awards programme. It is open to anyone who attends courses at the network of Science Learning Centres in the UK, including those taking advantage of Project ENTHUSE. Entries are accepted in three age categories: 3–11, 11–16 and 16–19.
Find out more about the Rolls Royce Science Prize here, including a video.
I’d be interested in comments and opinions on the competition.
- Have you entered it? Did you find it worthwhile?
- What would you do with the prize money?
- If you didn’t enter it - why not? What were the barriers to entry?
- How could we help in future?
I look forward to the conversation.
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