As part of the National Year of Science we decided to develop a hands-on science investigation garden in the school's inner court. The project was initiated by our former deputy, Helen Waight, who put together a team of staff, parents and governors to create this child-friendly, interactive area. The inspiration came after a visit to the Launch Pad exhibition at the Science Museum, whose staff have given us fantastic support - indeed Anne-Marie Devitt from the museum's Explainer Unit officially opened the garden earlier this month.
The garden is used as a learning space to promote science in an investigative and multi-sensory way. Features include a water canal system, textured wall of materials, a giant marble run, sand area with pulleys and wheels, feely boxes, some sorting tyres and a pergola hung with a variety of reflective and musical items.
The aim is to develop investigative skills in all areas of the science curriculum in a direct, hands-on way. They are encouraged to ask questions like "What happens if I pile these plastic animals in the water channel here?" (ideas about water flow and level). They can test out theories, learn the skills to test, measure and use a variety of equipment safely, then come up with their own explanations.
New equipment and features will be added over time. In this way we aim to develop the children's excitement and enthusiasm about science, stimulating their minds and, with luck, create young scientists of the future.
Penny Crocker, deputy headteacher and science co-ordinator at Reigate Parish Church School, Reigate, Surrey