Sustainable Science days aimed to offer pupils the opportunity to explore environmental issues and sustainable living.
Summary of activity:
Aimed at P5-S6 pupils, ‘Sustainable Science’ were two days of educational activities about renewable energy and sustainability held on 21 and 22 March 2013. Strathclyde University’s Wind Energy Department, Stirling University’s Forest Ecology Department, East Renfrewshire Countryside Rangers and Transport Scotland delivered drop-in Meet the Experts sessions including a range of practical activities such as building an eco tree, making your own wind turbine, etc. James Gallagher, a PhD student who specialises in science communication, presented the show ‘Indestructible Energy’ in our Science Theatre (showing what energy is and why we cannot create or destroy it), and we ran several sessions of the Wind Works workshop. In addition, pupils were given a trail that guided them around relevant exhibits within the science mall helping to focus them on the topic. Altogether, 1, 734 pupils took part.
We carried out 1:1 interviews with teachers of participating schools on the day; we also asked them to fill in a written questionnaire.
What went well:
1. Meet the Experts activities added to what the Science Mall offered because: experts are good at engaging with children ("They knew their stuff and engaged well with children"); children had the opportunity to meet people whose jobs are different from teaching; teachers said they would re-use some of the ideas/take the learning back to school (for example, the P5 teacher at Kings Park said she would re-use the idea of the eco tree at school for their eco week the following week).
2. Favourite activities included: the lab (because of the practical/visual/hands-on aspect "the children see and experience how wind turbines produce electricity" and because of access to equipment that does not exist at schools "We do not have that kind of equipment that show children that exercise"); the show ("The presenter of Indestructible Energy was excellent"; "Organised talks are very good because children can answer questions rather than run around").
3. We realised that no other programme offers the same mix of activities.
What was learned:
1.Sustainable science is a key part in the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland.
2.A mix of activities (for example, a show and a trail) is the best way to engage with pupils in P6-S2 classes.
3. The day (run between 10am and 2pm) could have been shorter to ensure pupils do not get too tired.
Top tips and advice for others
1. Organise a mix of activities based on information/activities available in-house as well as expertise from external partners.
2. Carry out direct 1:1 interviews with teachers as the best way to get in-depth and immediate feedback.