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Putting some fizz into lessons

Few science labs stock lemonade alongside bottles of potent chemicals. Jelly is not usually included in the periodic table. And making a cup of mint tea rarely involves the use of protective equipment.

But for the winners of the AstraZeneca primary science-teaching awards, household items play a vital role in making science accessible.

So when Rachel Ingles wanted to teach Year 1s at The Discovery School in Kent about the dissolving process, she mixed water with crystals to create a jelly-like substance.

And during a lesson about forces, she used a Mission: Impossible-style video to ask her pupils to create an environmentally friendly rocket using lemonade bottles and sand.

"Lots of children think science is a stuffy subject," she said. "They don't realise it is a part of everyday life. So I want to make it as hands-on as possible."

Lemonade also played a key role in Lisa Wood's classroom. The Year 1 teacher at Monega Primary in east London received her award for lessons in which she invited pupils to mix solids and liquids. When salt is mixed with lemonade, for example, it fizzes uncontrollably. And when raisins are dropped into lemonade, they "dance".

Another winner, Deborah Myers, head of juniors at La Sagesse school, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, planted a Roman garden and used it to show pupils how mint can be used as a breath-freshener, which led on to discussion about herbal medicine.

She also built three fairytale cottages in the playground, complete with "a witch's cauldron", which pupils use to make natural dyes from blackberries and spinach.

"If children are going to be creative thinkers, you have to have an interested adult who will allow them to explore," she said.

The six winners, who include Daniel Hawkins of Drayton Primary in north London, Lisa Meek of Leigham Primary in Devon, and Robbie Taylor of Simpson's Primary in West Lothian, will be presented with their awards tomorrow at the Association for Science Education conference in Liverpool.

Conference Briefs

Give it pizzazz

Huge fountains of fizzy drinks will entertain delegates at the annual conference of the Association for Science Education today.

At 11.30am, Barnet local authority education officials were set to give a choreographed show featuring 100 bottles of diet cola, made into fountains with the aid of soft mints.

Nice and gross

The science of "grossology" will provide an entertaining hour for teachers looking for inspiration.

At 2pm tomorrow, Dr Tony Liversedge from Edge Hill University will broach the subjects of burping, popping blisters, picking scabs and excavating earwax and bogeys.

"This is your chance to find out more about these horrible things that your body produces," he promises.

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