Science changes its molecules

27th May 2011 at 01:00
But luckily CPD is on hand to brief teachers on everything from designer babies to GM crops, finds Douglas Blane

Teachers need help with topical science, a new element of the curriculum that aims to make the subject appeal not just to budding scientists, but to everyone else as well.

Pupils are expected to comment, collaborate, research and discuss. But teachers are more familiar with traditional science skills, like experiment, measure, observe, calculate and record.

So the Science Learning Institute in Dundee has developed CPD sessions in the new skills. "We've been having meetings with principal teachers of the sciences to talk about Curriculum for Excellence," says Shabnam Wasim, senior science learning officer at Dundee Science Centre.

"They told us they wanted CPD in running discussions on science issues like genetic profiling, nuclear energy, GM crops, designer babies. We developed and delivered these for the first time this year and tried the activities out with pupils."

A favourite, she says, is "tops and pants". "You'd do this towards the end of a session, when they've already developed informed opinions. First you give them a statement - say `nuclear energy should not be used at all' - and ask if they agree or disagree.

"Those who agree collect a sheet of paper with a vest drawn on it, which they decorate. Then they write on it why they agree with the statement and hang it on the washing line. If they disagree with the statement, they collect a piece of paper with pants drawn on it, decorate them, write why they disagree and hang them on the line. Once everyone has their tops or pants up, you can see what they're all saying and have a class discussion."

Other activities include "physical continuum", in which pupils locate themselves along a line depending on how strongly they agree or disagree with a statement; ballot box for voting on sensitive topics; policy- making; and "picture it like this", in which words and images express how pupils feel about an issue. programme_330.html


Free CPD events

Earth science

Scottish Earth Science Education Forum aims "to bring Curriculum for Excellence to life for Scottish teachers - with little or no expense to them". Offering free and heavily subsidised CPD on carbon capture and storage, it ran events in Clackmannanshire, West Lothian and Fife last year. This week it is in Fife, Falkirk and Aberdeen.

Gifted seminar


Teachers can hear the latest research and share ideas at a CPD seminar on access to learning for gifted and talented children at St George's School in Edinburgh. Guest speaker will be Dr Niamh Stack, a psychology lecturer from Glasgow University's Scottish Network for Able Pupils. 7 June, 4- 5.15pm; 0131 311 8000; 10 fee.


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