Examining Environments: A new science workshop to support controlled assessments

Controlled assessments are one of the new aspects of the new science KS4 national curriculum that will start to be taught in schools from September 2011.  During the first half of 2011, we worked in partnership with Lucy Rimmington, Head of Science from Astley Sports College in Dukinfield to develop a new workshop that focused on the skills required for the controlled assessments while using the Museum’s collection in an innovative and creative way.  The initial meeting to start the ball rolling was funded by a MLA Science in Your World Learning Links project and enabled us to meet and discuss what was feasible for the workshop and how it would work. 

Students presenting their scientific posters during Examining Environments

After 4 months of hard work, working with the Museum’s collection team to help make the most of our amazing objects and using their expertise and knowledge, the workshop plan was finalised!  

Examining Environments involves students working in small groups to become scientists working on their own research projects.  In their groups, students investigate the changes in biodiversity in different habitats over a 10 year period.  Over the course of the day, using our Living Worlds gallery and getting hands on with some museum objects, students hypothesise and design their own experiments, analyse and interpret real scientific data, hear from real scientists about their own research and present their results and conclusions back to the rest of the class in poster format at their very own ‘scientific conference’.

During June and July, we trialled this new workshop with over 120 Year 9 students from Astley Sports College and the feedback was excellent. 

“An excellent and well led session which managed to engage some very unmotivated students”   Teacher, Astley Sports College

“It was a fun and interesting day!” Student, Astley Sports College

 Both staff and students really enjoyed it and the students will be able to use their memorable experience in the museum to boost their skills and confidence for their controlled assessments in the future.  The posters the students produced were really fantastic and certainly surprised their teachers with the quality of their work. You can see pictures below of the students from Astley Sports College during the workshops and the work they produced.

Examining Environments will be one of the new additions to our new science programme that will be launched in September 2011.  It will be available in both full day and half day format.  If you would like any further information about the workshop or would like to book a date, please contact alexa.jeanes@manchester.ac.uk

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