Science from the Start event in Lancashire libraries, July 2014
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.
These events were held in libraries in the Morecambe area of NW Lancashire. Each event was the first to be held in the relevant venue; they were treated as "trial" events for each location.
Summary of activity:
Events provided hands-on activities for adults and children to carry out together, and items to take away to use at home. Instructions, accessible scientific background and concepts to consider to further and enhance science-based learning through exploring and understanding the world were provided.
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. Interest in events was high and word spread quickly.
2. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
3. Reported adult confidence levels in engaging children in science learning were improved by attending events, particularly in those who reported their scientific background as "basic".
What was learned:
1. Drop in sessions were just as successful, and as well-attended, as those that were incorporated into existing events (e.g. Bounce and Rhyme sessions).
2. Understanding of the nature of the event and aims of the project were higher for drop in sessions, but this could be addressed by verbal delivery to attendees within pre-existing events before activities started. This was most successful via the project, rather than through the hosting venue.
3. At least three separate activities are necessary; more if possible.
Top tips and advice for others
1. This type of activity can be successfully combined with existing events such as baby/toddler groups.
2. Standalone sessions work equally well and are likely to attract a broader range of attendees than those targeted at a specific group that already meets regularly.
3. The nature of science learning for pre-school age children (exploring and understanding the world) should be widely promoted, to ensure that children fully benefit from the activities and accompanying adults understand their purpose.