World context

27th February 2004 at 00:00
Science: The Global DimensionDevelopment Education Association, pound;5.

Available from the Association for Science Education. Access to the Global Dimension website and associated links is free

This is a great resource to get pupils involved in discussion about science-related moral and ethical issues. It provides opportunities for pupils to collaborate with each other by giving them problems to solve in a worldwide context and, at the same time, it encourages them to examine their own values and attitudes.

The accompanying website gives access to a large number of links containing up-to-date news articles and pupil activities that will direct them to data handling and encourage them to evaluate evidence and formulate opinions on new - and sometimes controversial - theories. The sites deal with the origins of scientific ideas, conflict between faiths, the arms industry, environmental protection, as well as science and the media. It's a rich homework resource. "Hot issues" are updated monthly and articles about school buses running on vegetable oil, actor Leonardo DiCaprio's electric car, and a new fungus that threatens to wipe out bananas in the next 10 years will catch the attention of any pupil.

Studying global scientific issues emphasises the relevance of the science we teach every day. Pupils can study real-life examples of people and places, such as the 10,000 Somalis who have been taught basic literacy and numeracy by the BBC World Service, and the world's biggest hydroelectric project, which is nearing completion in China.

The booklet encourages schools in Britain to form links with schools in developing countries, giving examples of activities that can be shared. One example is a school cluster in the UK linking with schools in Kenya to study local environmental issues: the building of a supermarket that threatens historic woodland on the one hand, and new tea plantations threatening indigenous forest on the other. The pupils drew up guidelines based on their research and presented their findings to the relevant local authorities.

The booklet, together with the resources available through the website, could be used for teaching one-off lessons and for more long-term projects at key stages 34. This fresh approach to science teaching should really engage pupils in the learning process.

Stephen Dewey is KS3 science co-ordinator at St Bernard's Catholic High School, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria

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