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British Science Week - inspiring a new generation

Schools, universities and colleges across the UK are putting on a range of events to promote STEM subjects

Posted by Stephanie Broad | March 14, 2016 | Events

British Science Week sees thousands of events and activities staged across the UK by schools, colleges and universities with the aim to inspire the next generation of scientists. You can get involved in British Science Week in a number of ways, activity packs, quizzes and other resources including details of 2016’s ‘bat detective’ citizen science project are all available on the British Science Week website.

Tips for teachers

STEM subjects are often perceived as ‘boring’ or ‘unengaging’, when in reality they can be some of the most inspiring and creative lessons at school. But what can teachers do to boost attainment and engagement in STEM lessons? Jessica Clifton, marketing manager at LEGO Education, shares her top tips:

Hand-on, minds-on 

During a lesson on space, why not have the class recreate the solar system by physically using themselves as markers? You could even have them building their very own space rovers! Through fun and interactive activities like these, pupils will understand topics far more greatly and will retain information. Kinaesthetic learning has been proven to produce learning outcomes that are more easily retained in long-term memory.

Exploration and discovery

After teaching topics through a hands-on, minds-on approach, allowing children to explore and discover will cultivate curiosity and discussion. Encourage your class to work in teams to discuss real-life applications and implications of scientific topics, such as robotics. There is never one right answer in STEM, so teamwork encourages innovative ideas through a variety of talents. Teamwork also fosters resilience, enhances communication, and supports creativity and imagination. 

Future applications 

Engaging children is only the beginning; maintaining that interest so that they consider pursuing STEM subjects at A-Level, university or as a career is more challenging. Children are more likely to be inspired if they learn about the real-life applications of science and understand how their lessons can be applied to their future. Spend time teaching your pupils about different historical and current figures within the STEM world to give them examples of careers they could work towards. 

Be inspired

Teachers need to have an invested interest in STEM subjects too, so use existing resources and events to teach engaging lessons. British Science Week provides a plethora of inspiration and content, whilst LEGO Education provides resources that can be used to enhance the STEM curriculum and make lessons more engaging. We all have that one teacher who spoke with vigour and excitement and we remember them and their lessons because their passion was infectious. Every child has the potential to make a difference in the world; it is a teacher’s prerogative to recognise their talent and nurture it. 

Events to look out for this British Science Week

Cambridge Science Festival

Taking place from 7 - 20 March, Cambridge Science Festival is already in full swing, with over 100 science events dedicated to children and families.

At the Department of Engineering, from Monday 14 to Wednesday 17 March, school groups from years 5 and 6 are invited to explore 3D geometry by making a rocket launchpad structure. With the event finale seeing students use compressed air to fire paper rockets from their launchpads, high into the troposphere.

Chemistry in action at Cambridge Science Festival

On Saturday 19 March The Institute of Manufacturing, Department of Mathematics and the Cavendish Laboratory open their doors for the day, hosting a multitude of events including Laser lab tours and FantasTech, during which visitors can create their own laser-etched metal ID card, see water droplets frozen in mid-air and use a laser to power a rocket along a wire.

The Institute of Astronomy also opens it’s doors on Saturday. Visitors are invited to find out what happens when galaxies collide, or investigate possible holiday destinations at the Exoplanet Travel Bureau.

Sheffield Festival of Science & Engineering

For two weeks from Friday 11 March, Sheffield Festival of Science & Engineering is putting on wide range of fascinating events sure to spark the imagination of South Yorkshire.

With activities from analysing your own DNA to a talk about the fascinating world of bacteria and the spread of antibiotic resistance, the Sheffield Festival of Science & Engineering includes 155 events in schools and colleges across the region, along with 37 free public events in the city’s universities and museums.

One of the many highlights of the festival, Dr Mahnaz Arvaneh, from the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, will explain how brain signals can be interpreted to control devices such as wheelchairs or a prosthetic arm. This event will take place on Tuesday 15 March, 5:00 - 6:00pm at the Henry Stephenson Building, the University of Sheffield.

All events are free but for some booking is essential.

Think UTC

Coinciding with British Science week, Think UTC is a national day that celebrates the work University Technical Colleges do to inspire young people to become the scientists, engineers, technologists and innovators of the future. This year Think UTC takes place on Friday 18 March, there will be celebrity talks, chances to meet industry names and you will be able to take part in experiments and find out more about the wealth of careers offered by UTCs. Stay up to date on what’s going on by following #ThinkUTC on Facebook and Twitter.

Students, scientists and teachers are sharing their experiences of British Science Week on twitter via the hashtags #BSW16 and #BritishScienceWeek.


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