To establish a science club in partnership with teachers at a local school, where interested children could gain increased exposure to hands-on science investigations. To enhance the science learning and teaching occuring in a local school.
To establish a science club with regular attendance.
To develop stronger relationships with (teachers at) local schools.
Summary of activity:
A teacher at the school advertised the Science Club and the first meeting took place in the school gym hall where a member of our staff met with pupils to come up with ideas for a theme or topic for that term’s science club sessions. Once a topic was chosen, we began a KWL, finding out what pupils knew and what they wanted to know about the topic.
Following this initial meeting of the Science Club, science centre staff met with the teacher and we planned a term of activities centred around the chosen topic and incorportating the children’s specific areas of interest.
The Science Club meets every Wednesday during term time and alternates between sessions at the school which are teacher led and sessions in the science centre which are led by science centre staff.
The Science Club has run for 3 terms and has so far investigated the topics of energy, space and weather.
After the first term, we evaluated pupil learning with some hands-on activities that incorporated an element of assessment, i.e. explaining the energy transformations occuring when using a kettle to boil water. In small groups, the Science Club also made a concept map on the topic of energy.
To evaluate the logistical aspects of the Science Club, we keep in regular contact with the teachers at the school who facilitate the club.
What went well:
1. Allowing the children to choose a topic and specific areas of interest helps encourage attendance. In addition, keeping a 'Science Club' wall display where pupil work is added over time encourages the children to take ownership of the club.
2. In a mutually beneficial relationship, working with teachers at the school provides science centre staff an insight into classroom learning, while also providing teachers with additional resources and ideas for science activities in their classroom.
3. Our relationship with this particular school stretches beyond Science Club, and we have started running Parent/Child Science Sessions at the school to encourage parents to support children's interests in science through investigations at home.
4. The Wednesday Science Club now includes 2 schools - word spread and another school now shares the bus and we complete activities as one large group.
What was learned:
1. 45 minutes is not a long time! With travel time, sessions at the science centre only allowed for 45 minutes of activity, and children often want to use some of that time to play on the centre's exhibition floor.
2. Sharing the planning and faciliating of Science Club with the school makes it more manageable for both the teachers and the science centre.
3. There is a large appetite for science learning and teaching in Aberdeen. We are just scratching the surface for opportunities to work with local schools and with families in local communities.
Top tips and advice for others
1. For science centres, establishing a Science Club can be a gateway to building a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with a school.
For many children in the Science Club, English is a second language. Science Club allows these children time to express and develop their knowledge in a more informal setting and with less children than a class, there is more individual attention for each child.