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Science quiz suits all

Do you remember the BBC television quiz show Every Second Counts, hosted by Paul Daniels? I have found that adapting this for the classroom makes a fun learning experience. The essential game is that the "contestant" has to identify into which of three categories a series of objects falls, eg calling out "fish", "bird" or "animal" in response to a list which might have begun: cod, robin, jackdaw, horse, troutI

I have used the game in key stages 45 in a variety of contexts, including lesson starter, fun finale and revision aid. With Year 11 students I have tried it with a list of elements to identify their Periodic Table block, or "planet-star-other" within an Earth and Space module. With Year 12 chemistry I used "positive-negative-neutral" for a list of particles, for example.

I am confident it could be used with all ages and right across the ability range, provided the logistics and complexity of its deployment are given thought at the planning stage. It might even be a variation on a theme for the ubiquitous end-of-term quiz.

Assuming the inquisitor role, I write myself a long list in advance, as the students respond very quickly. Practice makes perfect too; it's important for the reader to be pacy yet calm and clear. The list is re-used many times, starting at a new point in each subsequent enactment. I set a 30-second time limit using a large-scale proprietary egg-timer. One student acts as timekeeper, while another scores via a tally chart.

It has been a success in a variety of subjects. In modern languages the game can be used to reinforce vocabulary learning: car-ship-plane for Rad-Fluegel-Pilot-Kupplung-Steuer etc, or grammar reinforcement: verb-noun-adjective for jouer-jeu-rouge-tomber-jaune.

Steve Atkins, student performance manager and former head of science, The Robert Smyth School, Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

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