Put fun into a test tube

7th September 2007 at 01:00
Take a tip from Vic Reeves's Brainiac to supersize pupils' learning potential cram in lots of laughs... and the odd lightning bolt, says Kat Holtom

My Year 9 class is in the mood for something different. "We want some fun, Miss". "But science is always fun!" I say. They groan. Then, a lightning bolt.

What makes science fun and accessible to the masses? BRAINIAC!

I often use clips of television's Brainiac (presented by Vic Reeves, left) in my lessons to introduce science concepts in entertaining and often silly ways.

The pupils love it and it livens up what might otherwise be seen as dull. So, I thought, why not make our own class episode of Brainiac?

The pupils loved the idea and so we set to work. This became a project of at least five lessons to plan, research, write scripts, do risk assessments, make props, film, etc. However, the benefits were enormous.

In small groups the pupils came up with ideas they have already come across in science lessons, or completely new things entirely.

They researched the experiments, came up with lists of equipment needed, and carried out a detailed risk assessment for each experiment.

The best (and safest) ones were shortlisted for filming and a storyboard was written by the pupils. They made props (silly yellow hats and Brainiac signs), presenters were chosen, scripts were devised, and then we were ready to film.

We used a digital video camera to show the pupils delivering their experiments and had two pupils editing the final programme. The result was very funny, but still scientific, and they had complete ownership of it from start to finish.

It was so good, we even put it on the school's intranet.

But be warned, if the pupils ask you to demonstrate an experiment that they can't perform for safety reasons, say no. I looked a prat in my yellow hat

Kat Holtom teaches science at The Romsey School in Hampshire

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