When it's fun you remember it more

15th March 1996 at 00:00
Shirley English joins pupils inside theScience Festival's travelling Spacelab

An action-packed science festival at East Calder primary left one group of pupils in no doubt about what they want to be when they grow up. Hands shoot into the air when the primary 7 class are asked: "So, who would like to be a scientist when they are older?"

Their wide-eyed enthusiasm follows an afternoon in "Spacelab", an inflatable planetarium which touched down two weeks ago in the school hall. Scot Williamson says: "Usually when you have a science lesson it's nothing special because someone just tells you about it. But when it's fun, you remember it much more."

Samina Ahmed adds: "I'm looking forward to high school now, because I'll be able to do a lot more science."

Teachers decided to hold the festival to highlight the school's 5-14 science curriculum. Touring workshops from the Edinburgh International Science Festival cost pound;700 and were paid for by parent contributions and link with topics the children are studying.

Primary 6 and primary 7 have been learning about Christopher Columbus and navigation by the stars; children from primary 4 to primary 6 have been doing electricity; and primary 2 have been finding out about the weather.

At the festival the children made burglar alarms and lie detectors in MadLab and learnt about flight and air pressure in MadFlap.

Even the youngest children can join in, with a comedy puppet show called "Where's Rhona?" to help them understand the science of the senses. Some primary 7 children saw Rebecca Crawford's Physics is Fun show, which was sponsored on this occasion by Glasgow University to encourage girls to take up science.

Julie Cunningham, depute head, said: "The children are obviously seeing the amazing side of science, and not the hard sums."

This is the third year the school has booked shows from the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Ms Cunningham said: "The tour is very important for rural schools like us. We would not have been able to take the whole school into Edinburgh, because the cost would have been prohibitive."

Lyn Woods, a senior teacher, says: "Having all these experts and specialists in the school for a week is wonderful for getting new ideas."

The Science Festival is touring 168 schools in Scotland, the North of England and Northern Ireland. "We provide a resource which schools would otherwise not have," Adam Selinger, the co-ordinator, says. "It is particularly useful at primary level. Primary teachers do not necessarily have a science background and do not feel confident in teaching it. We would say the important thing with science is to answer questions with questions."

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