The Royal Society has joined forces with Professor Brian Cox, the Society’s Professor of Public Engagement, to help primary school teachers across the UK to introduce creative experimental science lessons into their classrooms. A set of six videos and written resources – Brian Cox School Experiments – aimed at Key Stage 2 students (age 7-11 years) are available on the Royal Society’s website and YouTube channel, the STEM Learning resources page and the Times Education Supplement (TES) resources pages.
The experiments covered in the videos encourage youngsters to investigate a series of real-life activities across biology, chemistry and physics and are relevant to the curriculum across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They tackle topics such as working out how to clean dirty water; investigating whether plants need soil to grow; learning how exercise affects heart rate and why different types of chocolate have different melting points; figuring out how to change the pitch and volume of a sound with instruments made in the classroom and identifying what factors affect the size of shadows.
Each set of videos focuses on one experiment and features two teacher facing videos and two student videos for use in the classroom. The teacher facing videos feature Professor Brian Cox alongside a teacher who shares their experience of setting up and carrying out the experiments and their advice for overcoming some of the common difficulties that can occur. The videos for students illustrate the real life context for the experiments that they are working on, for example a visit to the Thorntons factory in Derby links to the experiment investigating the melting point of chocolate and a look inside an urban hydroponics farm that grows lettuces reveals that plants don’t always need to grow in soil. Real life scientists in their labs carrying out more advanced examples of the students’ experiments also feature.
In 2013 a report published by SCORE, Resourcing practical science in primary schools, found that a worrying number of primary students were not experiencing a complete science education due to a lack of resources for practical work. The study found that the average primary school had only 46% of the necessary equipment needed and that the amount of money spent on practical science varied greatly from school to school.
Professor Brian Cox, Professor for Public Engagement, says, “I have been delighted to be involved in filming these video resources, travelling around the country and meeting teachers and pupils who are inspired by science and involved in exciting, practical science in the classroom. If we want to produce the scientists and engineers of tomorrow, we need to inspire young people by putting creative experimentation at the heart of the science curriculum. We hope that these videos will be a useful resource that will help teachers who might not have a science background to feel confident to deliver practical science in the classroom.”
Adds teacher and science coordinator Sophie Donovan from Britannia Village Primary School in London, and one of the teachers featured in the video resources, “These resources will offer a clear explanation and demonstration of an outstanding science lesson. We hope that this will encourage Newly Qualified Teachers and less confident teachers, to take more risks and enjoy teaching science week in, week out. The filming process was extremely interesting and exciting for me, and the children thoroughly enjoyed partaking in this fantastic event.”