Scotland's four science centres have improved their contribution to the work of schools since their last inspection in 2002, the latest HMIE report has concluded.
Glasgow Science Centre (left), Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, Satrosphere in Aberdeen and Sensation in Dundee were found to have better accommodation and resources now, and improved links with staff in schools and teacher education.
They are also more adept at outreach work with schools and improving teacher expertise through continuing professional development.
But the report also noted that, from S3 upwards, schools are not so well supported: transport and entry costs to the centres are too high; and schools are often unable to release teachers and pupils from the timetable.
The centres themselves only have a limited range of programmes suitable for the S3-S6 stages.
Graham Donaldson, senior chief inspector of education, said the centres had an important role to play in keeping science teachers up to date. And Anne Glover, Scotland's chief scientific adviser, said she was particularly keen to see more contemporary science on show.
The centres will be given pound;350,000 specifically to implement the HMIE recommendations and inspectors will return to assess progress within the next two years.