Friday, 16 March 2012

Science Week

This year I decided to make a real effort and have science week events in the school. Now in the middle of it I feel like a music teacher must during the Christmas concerts, and I am not even the person doing the most work!

Before the week started I wrote a news letter with various information including some descriptions of what was happening that week; some "on this day in history" facts that are science related; links to science websites that would be useful for young people; and some "did you know" facts.

On Monday and Tuesday we had science fairs for year 9. This was great for the students who engaged with the activities. Three weeks before they had started an independent enquiry project to present at the fair. I was very impressed by the students' ownership of their projects and knowledge of the scientific method according to science teaching.

In year 7 we usually run a CSI project over the time period of a few weeks. This year I instigated this starting during science week to give both the project a fresh boost and add a little bit of depth to the activities we do in science week without much effort on our part. The students investigate blood splatter, hair types, fingerprints, unknown white powders, chromatography, witness statements, phone records amongst other things.

We had a visitor from Bristol University who spoke on the topic of bioethics to a group of year 10 students and also Pete, the Big Bug Bag Man, brought his large invertebrates to school in his voluminous ruck sack who amazed some year 7s and 8s. Both visitors were cheap enough for our faculty to afford without affecting the overall budget.

We also gave five copies of the official science week quiz to tutors for them to use in tutor time. Quite a few have given them back.

Assemblies have been big hit across the school during science week. Our Head of Chemistry has been delighting the students with the properties of dry ice. The climax of the performance is him pretending to smash his thumb. The gasps from the students say it all.

I also set up and ran a treasure hunt of Einstein images. Anyone who came to me with the locations of all 20 images of Einstein could have chocolate from me. About 10 students went on the hunt, but everyone I spoke to knew about them and that it was Einstein's birthday on 14th March.

In year 8 lessons we gave the students "our world in motion" posters to research and design. This is an official competition with the deadline of 2nd April. The students have to design an all terrain vehicle that will allow competitors to race in a world wide race. Engagement has been good in the project.

The week ended with a trip to the Big Bang Science Fair. I really didn't know how it would work with all the timings and students involved. But the students had a great time and we didn't lose any. It was very busy, but we enjoyed it despite that. 40/40 students said that they would go back again next year.

Through all of this I can really see the value in National Science and Engineering Week and I can't wait to set something up in my new school.

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