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Primary students pick sides in £10m science competition

What could you do with £10 million? Eradicate world hunger? Build a plane that can fly without damaging the environment? Bring life back to paralysed limbs?

These are some of the causes being championed by teams of students as part of the Longitude Prize 2014, a challenge that offers a £10 million fund to help solve one of the greatest issues of our time. And with a public vote to determine which cause is most worthy of the money, there is everything to play for.

Science specialist teacher at Shrubland Street Primary school Amanda Poole explains below how she and her colleagues Laura Shiell and Rebecca Banyard are using the associated teaching resources to get their students campaigning.

We were very keen to get our children involved in the project. It seemed like a fabulous opportunity to extend students’ science learning in a real-life context while gaining a greater appreciation of democratic systems.

We’ve downloaded the National School Partnership resource pack and are running the project with Year 5 and Year 6 classes. The students will be divided into teams and allocated one of the six causes at random.

They will begin by watching a BBC Horizon documentary about the Longitude Prize to get the big picture. Students will then have a research session using the school’s iPads and the fact files from the resource pack. We’ll provide extra guidance in the form of a relevant website list, key research questions and team roles and responsibilities.

After this, each team will be asked to create the following in support of their cause:

  • A statement using persuasive writing techniques, to be printed in the school newsletter
  • Three slides and a five-minute presentation, including meaningful and relevant scientific data, for a whole school assembly
  • Promotional posters or flyers
  • An innovative marketing campaign ? for example, a podcast, video or flash mob

At the end of the project, teams will present their persuasive argument to their peers in an assembly, while an information pack and postal vote form will be sent home so that parents can take part in the whole school vote.

We are really looking forward to hearing the children’s creative responses to the challenge and seeing them get enthusiastic about tackling some of the greatest issues facing scientists today.

To run a similar project at your school, you can register online for a free resource pack.

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