The stunning Gilt Hall at the heart of Cobham Hall has seen many uses of the centuries, from its origins as a banqueting hall, through to numerous settings for school productions. However, due to the challenges of Covid restrictions, it most recently found itself as a Science Laboratory!
In testament to the School’s commitment to lifelong learning, Laboratory Technician Mrs Howard recently entered a competition promoted by CLEAPSS and Royal Society of Chemistry and was highly commended. The competition was based around the International Symposium of Microscale Chemistry – something Mrs Howard championed when restrictions posed a threat to practical Science work.
As a firm believer in Science being something that requires learning by doing, Mrs Howard, supported by the Science Faculty, was keen to maintain the ability for students to conduct practical work despite some Year Groups having no access to the labs as a result of Year Group bubbles being in place.
“Microscale saved the day,” Mrs Howard enthused. “I first introduced it to the Science team four years ago and have been increasing the range of practicals that we can do this way, over this time. However, during the pandemic, particularly when the students were limited to their bubbles, it allowed us to continue to deliver a good practical experience for our students.”
The microscale technique sees experiments scaled down to become tray-based with multiple benefits. These include the use of fewer chemicals thus becoming more economical and with less waste, reactions that you are hoping to observe are often clearer, making concepts easier to understand. Students are able to work individually, and with cameras and Microsoft Teams, it was easier for remote students to see what was happening. It also allowed many experiments to be more portable, making it easier to transform the Gilt Hall into a temporary Science lab as and when required.
Science staff have been able to continue enjoy teaching and engaging students with their subjects with practical work and students have been grateful for the opportunity to carry-on ‘learning by doing’. Thankfully we are returning to labs now, but microscale continues to be a hit with staff and students.