On Wednesday 4 July I organised my first trip as a newly qualified teacher, taking a group of 6th form students to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. As other teachers will know your first school trip can be a nerve-wracking experience, thankfully my Head of Department was also there! It turns out I needn’t have worried.
The Exhibition, the stalls and academics present were collectively amazing, my student’s loved it. In fact my only concern was making sure I didn’t leave one or two of the more engrossed students behind when we left.
The variety of exhibits got me thinking how many could be considered directly applicable to the national curriculum? Of the 22 exhibits within the exhibition, all were engaging and interesting for my students, but I found 11 of them to be closely related to the current science curriculum in England. The content of these stands could be used by myself and colleagues in my school in conjunction with the current specification for GCSE Science.
Below I have briefly outlined each exhibit and explained where I think it links with the new science curriculum. Why not explore the online description of the exhibits yourself and see if you agree with my assessment? You may find some useful content for the new school year.
Race against the ageing clock: This looked at new research about how cells age, and how quickly or slowly that happens. It also had information on age-related disease risk factors.
Biology curriculum links; cells, enzymes, the non-communicable diseases topic and potentially rates of reaction.
Resistance is Futile: This was all about pathogens making us ill. It included a fun interactive activity, a variant of the fairground throwing game where you try and hit tin cans with a ball. Here they replaced the ball with a soft-toy antibiotic and the cans/targets became pathogens.
Biology curriculum links; communicable diseases, pathogens, health disease and development of pathogens, inheritance and variation, microbial resistance.
Life in a warming world: A piece presented by Charters School who used a Royal Society Partnership Grant and help from Imperial College to allow young people to conduct research into the effect of climate change on freshwater habitats in the UK.
Biology curriculum links; ecosystems, adaptation, natural selection.
Chemistry curriculum links; Earth and atmospheric science, the water cycle.
Hot stuff – when radioactivity is good for you: Looking at how radioactivity can be used to detect and treat a range of illnesses.
Biology curriculum links; Cancer cell treatment.
Physics curriculum links; radioactivity, the electromagnetic spectrum
Designer Malaria Vaccines: My personal favourite of all the activities and exhibits. People were approached by someone dressed as a giant mosquito who “gave them malaria” (in reality just a sticker). Their challenge was to find the exhibit which could cure them. Perfect considering malaria is often used as an example of a communicable disease in GCSE Biology!
Biology curriculum links; communicable diseases, antigens, monoclonal antibodies.
Where the wild things are: A really nice exhibit from the Zoological Society of London, showing patterns of animal behaviour.
Biology curriculum links; Food chains, habitat, ecosystems, conservation.
Material matters – biomaterials for bone repair: An inspiring exhibition looking at how 3D printing can be used in conjunction with stem cells to repair lost bones for landmine victims.
Biology curriculum links; a really nice opportunity to look at how specialised cells work in reality and how stem cells can be used.
Atomic Architects: A really fascinating exhibit where students could make a crystal sheet just a few particles thick. This work showed the crossover of materials science, chemistry and engineering very well. It is also how everyone’s favourite allotrope of carbon (graphene) was discovered.
Chemistry curriculum links; structure and bonding – graphene.
Mind the (nano) gap: Looking at the size and scale of biosensors, this referenced electrons, molecules, neurotransmitters and DNA sequencing.
Biology curriculum links; The nervous system, DNA and genetics.
Chemistry curriculum links; Atoms, element and molecules, structure of the atom.
Guardians of the gut: An exhibit showcasing the symbiotic relationship between microbial flora in the gut and humans.
Biology curriculum links; cells, bacteria, nutrition, diffusion, active transport, the digestive system, enzymes.
Not a dry eye in the house: Possibly my student’s favourite exhibition. After a series of mini eye exams, participants in this study received a USB containing images of the tear films in their eyes, and a full analysis of how dry their eyes were. Particularly useful if you want to get the teenagers you teach to get some more sleep (a cause of dry eyes)!
Biology curriculum links; cells, the eye.