Science from the Start event at Lancaster library
Science from the Start provides science-based play learning activities for pre-school aged children (and primary school age children where appropriate) and their parents/carers, and information and support for adults to facilitate their children's science-based learning and build their confidence in doing so.
At this event, activities were provided that were suitable for both pre-school and primary school aged children, as the event took place outside of term-time. This was the first event within the wider project that took place outside of an established activity group, and was the first to provide activities aimed at school aged children. Therefore the aims were both to provide activities and information for children and adults, and to trial procedures and assess their effectiveness.
Summary of activity:
Activities were laid out on tables in the children’s area of Lancaster library. Activity sheets were provided for each one with instructions, scientific background and concepts to explore. Children participated in activities, with the help and supervision of adults.
Short feedback forms requesting demographic information, self-assessed scientific background, confidence levels in engaging children with science learning before and after the event and general comments were completed by attending adults.
What went well:
1. Children were extremely enthusiastic about the activities they took part in.
2. Attendance was much higher than expected.
3. Feedback was extremely positive and in general, reported adult confidence in engaging children in science-based learning was improved.
What was learned:
1. It is more difficult to encourage adult engagement with children's participation in activities for children of school age.
2. One person felt that there were "too many very young children" present. Some promotion for this event was executed by the hosting venue and did not explicitly explain the aims of the event, which may be explain why this person was apparently unaware of the nature of the over-arching project which is aimed at pre-school age children.
3. There was a lot of interest in this event and more space was needed.
Top tips and advice for others
1. Make sure that all promotional materials clearly state explicit age ranges and are edited by all parties.
2. If pre-school and primary school aged children are attending the same event, make sure that higher abilities of the older children do not overshadow the engagement of younger children. They can get REALLY excited, which is great, but can mean that babies and toddlers and their parents/carers find it harder to get involved.
3. If parental engagement is required, include this in event promotion materials.