Ponderings from the Prep Room…

Posted: 11th February 2021

Cobham Hall has always appreciated the importance of practical work in a good science education. It motivates and helps to engage students, develops their understanding of scientific phenomena, builds transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, perseverance. It encourages them to accept that discovery and advancement often happens only when things do not go to plan. In other words, to have an open and enquiring mind.

One of the great joys for the Science Department is to see the awe and wonder that good practical work can engender in students and hope that it ignites a lifelong interest in learning and understanding the world around them.

The PASS (Practical Assessment in School Science) project being undertaken by the University of York, Science Education Group and King’s College is looking at the impact that a variety of strategies for teaching practical work, has on student learning outcomes and found that ‘the research indicates that when hands-on practical work is not possible, schools should aim to deliver teacher-led, student engaged demonstrations that include purposeful discussion and questioning.’

We really understand how essential practical work is and that is why we are determined to continue to provide as many opportunities as possible for our students to enjoy this aspect of the lessons, even during the present restrictions.

We are always thinking of ways to safely deliver practicals. When our students were with us during the Autumn Term, this included microscale versions of practicals so that students could work individually and often in non-laboratory environments, and Saturday school sessions dedicated to whole year groups whose ‘bubble’ location did not include a lab, when the day was completely given over to practical work. This term, with students all learning remotely, this has developed to include filming demonstrations to share with all students and, as I was doing this week, filming and assisting Mr Kirkaldy as he delivered assessed practical lessons to our A Level Chemistry students. This was specific, close-up filming, which enabled students to read measurements and interpret the data.

My next project is to eat the jam in these pots and turn them into microscale spirit burners. All in the name of science of course!

I look forward to a time when life is less restrictive, and we can all get back to enjoying the excitement of our normal level of hands-on Science activities.

– Mrs E Howard, Laboratory Technician


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