Why consider topical science? Additional support - topical science at early level Sources of information Topical science support for all levels Links to the world of work and careers Classroom activities Podcasting to support topical science Case studies Why consider topical science?
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Additional support - topical science at early level
Sources of information
Topical science support for all levels
Links to the world of work and careers
Podcasting to support topical science
‘By considering current issues of science, learners increasingly develop their understanding of scientific concepts and their capacity to form informed social, moral and ethical views. They reflect upon and critically evaluate media portrayal of scientific findings.’
Curriculum for Excellence - sciences experiences and outcomes
The table below shows Topical Science in the Curriculum for Excellence sciences experiences and outcomes. Although it is shown as a line of development, opportunities should be provided for the inclusion of topical science in all aspects of learning within the sciences.
By considering the language used at each level we can ensure progression, development of the four capacities and skills development, including the development of literacy skills.
The words highlighted in this experience and outcome provide information about the skills that will be developed by the learner.
Many of the skills are literacy skills.
I have contributed to discussions of current scientific news items to help develop my awareness of science.
Literacy is a medium through which children and young people access most information and learning. The possible approaches used in the delivery of topical science are literacy- rich and especially strong in the areas of listening and talking and reading.
Listening and talking for learning
Children and young people will engage with others in group and class discussions of topical science issues in a challenging way, at a level commensurate with their level of competence. They will learn collaboratively, explain their thinking to others and explore factors which influence and persuade them in order to think about the reliability of information.
Reading for learning
Finding, selecting, sorting, summarising and linking information from a variety of sources will be a feature of the learning experience. Understanding the differences between fact and opinion will be an important literacy skill that can be developed.
Progression in skills development will take place from early through to fourth level.
This is shown by the comparison of experiences and outcomes from two different levels.
“By encouraging young people to engage with science-related stories in the media, and equipping them to engage reflectively and critically with such stories, we are contributing to their empowerment as citizens in our increasing information rich society.”
Jarman and McClune, Science Newswise, (2005)
Suggestions for classroom activities are indicated in the experiences and outcomes.
Through research and discussion I have an appreciation of the contribution that individuals are making to scientific discovery and invention and the impact this has made on society.
‘You choose the news’ is an interactive game developed by Dr Eleanor Gilroy at the Scottish Crop Research Institute. It allows players to create a TV news item about the impending EU chemical pesticide ban and the potential effects and solutions to this proposal. By selecting from a series of short video clips players can produce their own news item and when completed the game will tell players just how biased, or not, their news clip is.
As well as considering an area of topical science, this resource can be used to develop literacy skills and provides a topic for debate in science.
This resource, produced by the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, comprises of three sets of video diaries recorded by members of the same farming family living in East Lothian in 2050. It can be used as a focus for debate and discussion on an area of topical science.
Each set of diaries describes their lives in different futures depending on how we have responded to the challenges of climate change.
The purpose of the diaries is to highlight how the choices that we make today will affect how we live in the future. It can also be used to stimulate discussion on the skills required for jobs of the future and the important role of entrepreneurial activities.
The science department at Webster’s High School in Kirriemuir, Angus uses science notice boards to add relevance and to link topics to real-life issues.
Click on the link below to find out more.
How to listen to podcasts
Other useful resources
The University of Strathclyde
SSci pod project
How to make a podcast
Science podcasts on the internet
Podcasting is a powerful way of allowing children to share their work and experiences with a potentially huge audience over the internet. Schools are increasingly using the internet to promote what they do and to celebrate the achievements of their children. Podcasting is an excellent way of exploring topical science issues. It also contributes to the development of literacy skills.
What is a podcast?
A podcast is like a radio show. However, instead of being broadcast live, a podcast is recorded and then distributed over the internet, so that you can listen to it whenever you please. There are thousands of podcasts available, ranging from general interest entertainment shows to those which focus on specific topics (eg science / computers / music / education).
You can usually listen to podcasts directly on the websites of those people who make them (see science podcasts on the internet section for examples). However, you can also "subscribe" to podcasts using software like iPodder and iTunes. These programs will automatically download the latest shows, and you can then listen to them on your computer and download them onto an mp3 player. To subscribe to a podcast, you need to know the RSS feed (this information should be on the podcaster's website). iTunes has its own directory, where you can subscribe to a show, simply by clicking the "Subscribe" button.
The link below is to an interactive introduction to podcasting from the BBC along with some FAQ’s.
The link below gives a step by step by step guide to producing podcasts. Although it is a resource developed for Modern Language teachers, it can be used in any curricular area.
Click on the image above to access the LTS podcasting resources.
The Education Podcast Network
Click on the thumbnails below to access a few of the science podcasts available on the internet. They can be used by staff to keep up to date with developments in the sciences or by children during research activities.
Podcasts for educators, schools and colleges
IntroductionThe project has been running with student teachers for the last 3 years. Students work collaboratively to plan, research and produce podcasts on topical science aimed at an S1/2 pupil audience.
Aims The project aim was to develop literacy approaches in promoting learning and teaching in the sciences.
Process The students were given the task of producing a 3 minute podcast which focused them on communicating essential information. The podcasts were submitted online and there was a time period of 48 hours where students could listen to each others podcasts and enter into an online dialogue.
Outcomes The project has developed the literacy skills of the students specifically in talking, listening, reading and writing. It has developed the students confidence in using literacy approaches in science and provided them with an insight in how ICT can be used to enrich the learning environment.
Click on the image above to access the podcasts produced by the teaching students at the University of Strathclyde
David Noble, a Chartered Teacher who teaches in Fife, explains how he has used audio files and podcasting with children.
This education podcast database has been constructed and is maintained by David Noble.
The NASA DIY podcast resource below allows children to use audio, video and images to make their own podcasts. This could be used as an introduction to editing and producing a podcast
Use of Glow
Links to the world of work and careers
Partnership working with higher education, colleges, businesses and learned institutions can give learners insights into the world of work.
Their understanding of the opportunities available to them in the future can be broadened.
Links also provide many powerful and motivating opportunities that help to contextualise learning and give it relevance and meaning.
“Partnerships may include those with small companies, social enterprises and entrepreneurs, providing a strong link between the school and the local community, as well as larger national or international organisations. Through such partnerships, pre-school establishments, schools and colleges can benefit from additional expertise and information about the work and social environment, enabling effective, relevant and contextualised approaches to learning and teaching.”
Building the Curriculum 4, skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work
Glow, the national intranet for Scotland, has the potential to enhance partnership working and give insights into the world of work.
Glow Meet is the web conferencing tool which allows people to interact using video, audio and a shared whiteboard space. An example of this being used to enhance partnership working and provide learners access to world of work, was the fulmar dissection which took place at the Seabird Centre in North Berwick. Wider participation in conferences has also been enabled through Glow, for example, the Think Darwin, Think Evolution, Think Now conference.
Glow can also be used to access resources and projects relating to career education and the world of work. An example of this is the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh project in which they worked with children and young people in schools, finding galaxies and exo-planets using real data collected by astronomers.
Seabird post mortem with Glow Meet
STEM Scotland provides information about relevant resources, organisations and activities for children, young people and their teachers. The organisation encourages interest and engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
STEM Scotland also manages the STEM Ambassador programme.
STEM Ambassadors come from a wide range of industry and educational establishments across the STEM disciplines. They seek to inspire young people to become the scientists of the future and bring experience of their area of expertise within the world of work.
Teachers can also use the experience to gain up to date information on new developments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Conferences can provide children, young people and their teachers the chance to speak to scientists/employers who are working in a particular field, find out about current research, get insights into their work and learn about the career paths they have followed to get to where they are. It can also provide an insight into the diverse world of work of the many members of staff supporting the scientists.
Information about conferences that will be taking place in the near future can be found on Glow.
The ‘Do something different, do science’ campaign funded by Scottish Government gives examples of a wide range of career opportunities in science.
Teacher TV has videos in which researchers or businesses give insights into their work/research.
Talks by people from a range of careers including scientists and engineers.
Planet science has a large database of profiles of scientists.
Links with the local community can provide learners with insights into the world of work and assist in the delivery of aspects of topical science in an enterprising way.
Inviting parents/carers in to school to talk about their careers can be a useful source of information. It also provides an opportunity for parents/carers to become involved in the learning process.
Partnership working with local employers and businesses can be another useful link with the community as illustrated by the case study opposite.
Click on the link above to read about a nursery class who were inspired by a science story to work in partnership with a farm to hatch eggs and look after chicks.
Ways to involve the learner
Different media to communicate ideas
Topical science at early level through science stories
Examples of science stories
At early level, science stories can be used to introduce topical science.
Skills that can be developed are highlighted in the experience and outcome for SCN 0-20a.
I can talk about science stories to develop my understanding of science and the world around me.
Science stories can be real or imagined. They can help children relate to the world around them, stimulating interest and questions which can be used as the starting point for discussion and investigation.
As well as appropriate items of science news from the wider world, things that happen in the children’s lives and the learning establishments can provide the basis for stories.
Fictional stories that involve science that children can wonder about are a further way to stimulate learner involvement in a science topic.
A story that involves science should stimulate children to discuss, ask questions and explore. This can be done in a variety of ways.
One teacher in a primary 1/2 class stimulated the children’s interest, questions and ideas at the beginning of their Schoolyard Safari topic using a clip from a cartoon.
“We started off watching A Bug Life and then had a discussion about how cartoons have some facts in them and some things that aren't true. Then in fours they discussed some statements to think about whether they were true or false. As part of a class discussion we decided what else we thought we knew and added them on cards to the true side. This then created lots of questions and ideas for when we began our mini beast safari.”
By stimulating questions and discussion through a story, the learners were involved in planning and had a real reason for investigating.
After closely observing living creatures in their natural habitats the children were then able to go back and see where they had got things right, which ideas needed refinement and which needed further research.
Children’s learning was given depth by the creation a safari learning area which added further challenge.