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Science - Use friends and family

What it's all about

As teachers, we often overlook resources that are right under our noses. In my case, it was my 83-year-old grandfather John Smart, a retired hydrologist who probably knows more about some aspects of the science curriculum than I do, writes Gavin Smart.

My grandfather worked for the Institute of Hydrology on a project in the Hafren Forest of Mid-Wales, where he focused on the management, monitoring and protection of water quality and its sources. So setting up a Skype call with such an expert, recording it and showing it to a Year 7 (P7) class to help facilitate their learning about acid rain seemed logical.

The access to such a specialist is often hard to come by, So finding friends or family who can describe their experience in the field gives purpose to young people's learning.

A new face is also engaging and, when used as a voiceover to pictures or videos, can give a whole new slant to the lesson.

The process was simple. I showed a three-minute video of my grandfather to the class, accompanied by footage from his home. This focused on how acid rain was formed and the effects it could have on the environment. We then investigated the effect of acid rain on plants.

In a follow-up lesson, pupils Skyped my grandfather. The lesson flowed, pupils were guiding their own learning and everyone got to talk to an expert. Not bad for 60 minutes.

What else?

Watch the video of Gavin's grandfather explaining acid rain on TES Resources. Let pupils teach each other about the causes, effect and solution of acid rain in a lesson by SM_BSc.

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