Hands-on experiment sets the class alight

5th September 2008 at 01:00
Mark Gale, head of science at South Dartmoor community college in Devon, a chemistry specialist by training, shows how to grab the attention of a class, writes Adi Bloom

"Stereotypes become stereotypes because there's a grain of truth in them." he said. "Scientists are curious by nature, but I suppose sometimes that curiosity is about things and phenomena, and not necessarily about other people.

"In chemistry, we certainly play on stereotypes. We have a great sense of showmanship. The clouds of dry ice, the big bangs, bubbling things. We're gripped by spectacle. But people often get a sense that science is about boffins, labouring away in the middle of the night. Actually, it's far more of a collaborative effort. So we try to teach that to children.

"The new science GCSEs are much more about communication and about understanding how data can be interpreted in different ways.

"In some respects, science is becoming a bit more like a humanities subject, so people's emotional intelligence is now coming to the fore. I suppose there's no reason you can't learn emotional intelligence in schools - it would help in all subjects. But it would have to be integrated into the curriculum properly, rather than bolted on."

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