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Saturday, June 8 • 10:15am - 11:30am
Engaging children in science though cutting-edge, real science research projects LIMITED
Limited Capacity seats available

Overview
This seminar will consider the benefits of introducing current scientific research to primary age children and how this can be done in primary schools. Dudley Shallcross will describe how making links to science research makes learning more meaningful and engages children. He will explain that cutting-edge research can be linked to the primary science curriculum and share examples from ‘I bet you didn’t know…’ articles published in ‘Why & How’, the PSTT Newsletter. Julia Nash will talk about how as a teacher she has used some of the practical ideas in the ‘I bet you didn’t know…’ articles with her class. She will describe how the children in in her class have responded and the impact on their learning and perception of science and scientific research. Ex-biochemist and primary teacher, Alison Trew, will briefly describe what is meant by ‘science capital’ [1] and describe how student engagement with science is shaped by students’ interests, dispositions and past experiences [2]. She will suggest that ‘I bet you didn’t know…’ provides teachers with an accessible, practical way to raise children’s science capital and inspire the next generation of scientists.

Talk 1 – Dudley Shallcross
Fundamental science principles are explored at primary school and many cutting-edge science projects can be explained using these principles. For example, a recent study showed that Greenland sharks can live for many hundreds of years and the principle behind this was making a good calibration chart, something that can be replicated in primary school. In another study scientists believe that they have found a hidden planet in the Kuiper Belt, even though telescopes are not powerful enough to see the planet! Using ideas from primary science investigations it is possible to carry out investigations that mirror these studies. The principles of camouflage are discussed in another paper and these investigations can be carried out in a primary school setting (outdoors of course). Linking with cutting edge science at an early age is, we hope, an exciting way to stimulate children and their teachers and provide rich contexts for learning.

Talk 2 – Julia Nash
Engaging children in ‘real life science’, has for me, been paramount in inspiring young science learners in the classroom. I teach full-time in a class of 7-8 year olds and have used the ‘I bet you didn’t know…’ articles to provide a starting point for a series of science lessons. I want to show that this resource is accessible and enjoyable for everybody, all teachers and children, whatever the Key Stage. The articles explain clearly, in language that children can understand, what scientists have discovered and provide questions for children and teachers to consider in the classroom. There are suggestions of practical activities that the children might carry out to find their own answers to some of these questions. Children love to take ownership of their learning and this is exactly what happened in my class. The children enjoyed exploring new ideas and carrying out their own science research.

Talk 3 – Alison Trew
Science capital combines all an individual’s science-related resources: knowledge, attitudes, experiences and contacts. The more science capital young people have the more likely they are to engage with the subject. We believe that teachers can make a difference to student engagement with science by sharing examples of cutting-edge research because:
• Linking scientist’s research findings to real-life situations enables pupils to see science as relevant to their everyday life and has a positive impact on their attitude towards science.
• Encouraging discussion and providing simple practical challenges linked to research has a positive impact on children’s science-related knowledge and experiences.

Chaired by Craig Early 
 
References 
[1] Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (241-258). New York, NY: Greenwood.  
[2] Godec, S., King, H. & Archer, L. (2017) The Science Capital Teaching Approach: engaging students with science, promoting social justice. London: University College London. 


Chair
Speakers
avatar for Alison Trew

Alison Trew

Area Mentor (SW) & Website Resources Developer, PSTT
I was a science researcher for 9 years before training to teach and I taught in primary schools in Devon for 9 years. I am a Fellow of the Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) and Area Mentor for South West England. In the last couple of years I have supported primary teachers and... Read More →


  • Target age range 4-11