Posted on February 20, 2012 by Science Learning Centres
By Clare Warren
“Does outdoor learning contribute to children’s enjoyment of science?”
I am currently studying on the Professional Award in Science Teaching and Learning programme which recognises the completion of a period of CPD which has had an impact on teaching. Teachers who achieve the Professional Award have demonstrated their ability to effectively reflect upon and analyse their teaching practice, assimilate information from multiple resources (with an emphasis on current educational research), and implement effective action planning in order to improve their professional practice.
My research topic was “The extent to which learning outdoors contributes to children’s enjoyment of science”. I successfully applied for a partnership grant from the Royal Society which enabled me to arrange a series of woodland visits with my pupils.
I decided to use these visits to investigate children’s enjoyment of working outdoors. On our first two visits to woodlands we collected woodland wild flower seeds and visited the Community Tree Trust nursery to plant these and
Sunflower plant shoots
count how many germinated. We then went back to new woodland to plant the seedlings. I asked some of my Year 4 pupils to take photos of anything which contributed to their enjoyment of the visits. Back at school Ricky (puppet) and I interviewed the children who took the photos to find out if they enjoyed the visit and what they enjoyed about the visit using the photos as prompts. Using their ideas I compiled a questionnaire which went to all children who took part in the visits to ask about how much they enjoyed working outdoors compared to indoors both at school and on school visits. The children expressed a preference for working outdoors.
I also devised a questionnaire which went to the adults (staff, governors and parents) who accompanied the visits. They confirmed that they felt the children had enjoyed working outdoors and when asked what evidence they had seen that the children were enjoying themselves the most common factor mentioned related to talk, questions and discussion. This related very well to the work I had been doing as AfL (Assessment for Learning) coordinator and reinforced the messages about talk for learning (and now it seemed for enjoyment too).
My instinct that children learn better outdoors was confirmed by both my reading and the results of my own research. I now make even more effort to work outside the classroom and feel I can be an advocate for outdoor learning with much more authority than previously!
The children I teach still love working outdoors and are benefitting from more opportunities to do so. I am keen to share my enthusiasm for outdoor learning with my colleagues and I have now co-presented the Science Learning Centre Course, Stepping Outside: Learning Beyond the Classroom.
The Royal Society chose to use the project as a case study which can be found on their website and the impact of the research is documented within PASTL.
Here are a few easy things you can do to begin enriching science in your school:
- Book on the course: Stepping Outside the classroom: Learning outside the classroom, EEC11060 running on 6 March at Redborne Upper and 13 March 2012 at the Science Learning Centre East of England, Bayfordbury.
- Read our other blog post on enrichment for further ideas and inspiration.
Filed under: Enrichment, Secondary and Post-16 | Tagged: continuing professional development, enrichment activities, outdoor science | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 9, 2012 by Science Learning Centres
by Mark Langley.
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, no doubt many of you will be looking for ideas to link your class activity with a day that may be on many of your students minds. In our video, Mark Langley, one of the Professional Development Leaders at the National Science Learning Centre demonstrates how to make soft centred chocolates, using enzymes, which if created in a food safe environment, using food materials and following a scrupulous hygiene regime, can be eaten or given to loved ones.
This activity is a useful way to bring vocational science ideas into the classroom, and is a good demonstration of how science is applied in the real world – in this instance how creme eggs get their soft gooey centre.
If you have enjoyed this demonstration and are interested in learning about other ways and methods of delivering vocational science in your class activities, the network of Science Learning Centres has a range of vocational science courses going on across the country or you may be specifically interested in Mark’s own course BTEC and Applied: Successful pathways for 14 – 19 year Science.
You may also be interested in reading the National STEM Centre’s Valentine’s Blog.
Do you have any other Valentine’s Day Science activities you’d like to share? How did they go? How have you applied them? Let us know and we can share them with others.
Filed under: biology teaching, chemistry teaching, continuing professional development, Demonstrations, science demonstrations, Secondary and Post-16, Video, Vocational Science | Tagged: Chocolate, creme egg, enzymes, science experiment, valentines day, vocational science | 10 Comments »
Posted on February 6, 2012 by Science Learning Centres
By Cindy Martin.
I was unsure whether I wanted to attend university so once I had completed my GCSEs and A levels at school I decided to apply for an apprenticeship, this would provide me with the opportunity to learn whilst getting paid and allow me to see what I would like to do in the future. After finishing school in July 2011, I began working as the marketing apprentice at the National Science Learning Centre in York. I love my role as it enables me to work in a specific area of the company, learn new skills and work with a wide range of people. I attend college for half a day a week where I study units that are chosen specifically to accompany my job role. Although I have had a few complications with college, I feel that it’s great as it allows you to work at your own pace. I began the course in September 2011 and have worked hard to get my portfolio finished; I expect to complete the course by the end of February2012.
When I started my job, I was one of four new apprentices within the company, as part of my research for this blog post I spoke to a couple of them to see what they felt about apprenticeships. Marcus, who is the apprentice assistant lab technician, said: “I think it’s great as I’m learning whilst earning and doing a job I enjoy.” Lyz, who was employed as the network apprentice but is now working in a number of departments within the company said: “apprenticeships are a fantastic way to begin in the real world of work. To gain new experiences in a chosen field whilst learning is a bonus.”
I also thought it would be beneficial to speak to Maureen, head of HR, she said: “Apprenticeships are a brilliant way for young people to learn as they earn, providing them with the relevant vocational skills and qualifications required to progress in the world of work. The UK economy needs to be underpinned by a highly skilled and varied workforce – apprenticeships are a very relevant and important part of the mix.”
I would advise anybody who is unsure about what they want to do in the future to consider an apprenticeship. Although the pay may not be great at some companies, it is a fantastic stepping stone in to the working world and allows you to gain a qualification at the same time, which always looks good on your CV.
Assisting with our online video marketing has been one of the varied projects I have worked one. Here is a video I co-presented to promote one of our secondary science training courses. In this case it was about our CSI Forensics course.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »