STEMNET and the AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust join forces to inspire young BiologistsMonday 7 January, 2013
STEMNET has developed inspirational activities for STEM Ambassadors and teachers to engage students in Biology topics, from developing super-strength glue to investigating the decline of conker trees.
The six practical activities enhance the Biology curriculum, and can be run by STEM Ambassadors and teachers to give students the opportunity to relate school science to the real-world challenges experienced by STEM professionals.
The AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust provided funding and support for the activities that have been endorsed by the Society of Biology. With the help of teachers and STEM Ambassadors, the organisations identified opportunities to support the curriculum that are not offered by existing resources.
Dudley Shallcross of the AstraZeneca Science Teaching Trust said, “Our objective is to improve the education of young people in science. By supporting the much-needed development of exciting curriculum materials, we can actively enhance classroom lessons and ensure students continue to experience the awe and wonder that science can offer.”
The activities explore the following topics, providing STEM Ambassadors and teachers with guidance on introducing the topic, how to present the activity, structuring the session, equipment lists and health and safety notes:
o Colour questions – what happens when coloured substances are mixed with oil and water?
o Improving glue – can we develop a stronger glue?
o Eat your greens – can we stop food from going off but still keep it tasty and nutritious?
o Exploding cells – why can’t the concentration of our body fluids change?
o Take your medicine – why are there so many different kinds of pills?
o Save our conkers – what’s happening to our conker trees? Will they survive?
STEMNET Chief Executive Kirsten Bodley said, “The new activities provide an excellent opportunity for us to support our network of 25,000 STEM Ambassador volunteers to inspire young people in Biology. We hope that the resources will engage students in science at an age when interest in STEM subjects is known to drop off significantly.”
Dr Jenna Stevens-Smith, Public Engagement and Events Executive of the Society of Biology said, “The Society of Biology is proud to endorse these resources which will enable more STEM ambassadors to enthuse young people about biology. The resources take a creative approach to a range of topics which showcase the breadth and diversity of biology. “
The resources were trialled in six schools, with very encouraging feedback. In particular, teachers commented that the activities were engaging, tied well to the curriculum and included lots of opportunities for stretching students' knowledge and understanding. They saw them as an excellent way to get the students relating to science in the real world.
The resources also offer reassurance and suggestions for STEM Ambassadors who may have an exaggerated idea of what is 'prohibited' in classes. Students in trials showed a real enthusiasm for getting their hands dirty in the fun but challenging activities.
Talk about them on the STEMNetworking site.
The Technology, Design and Innovation Challenge is a celebration of design and technology in schools, run annually by the Manufacturing Technologies Association.
This four million US Dollar prize fund is divided between organizations, individuals and high schools who have demonstrated four key criteria: Impact, Innovation, Leadership and Long Term Vision.
Teachers working in England are invited to apply for grants of up to £15,000 to fund year-long pilot demonstrating innovative practice in English, maths or science teaching.