Mark Jones is a Philosophy graduate now teaching Science at a Pupil Referral Unit in Hertfordshire. Mark taught Science at secondary schools for 15 years and has just completed an SASP course improving his Physics credentials at the East of England Science Learning Centre.
This is my suggested outline of a plan for a lesson early on in Year 10, when you may have students who do not particularly see the value of Science
Outline Lesson Plan Year 10 Core Science (From KS4 Science Programme of Study, 2006), “During key stage 4, pupils learn about the way science and scientists work within society..”
Aims: To build motivation for the study of Science; To clarify what a Scientist really is; To get students to think of themselves as potential future scientists.
Starter: Show the first video clip: walking on coals etc.Ask for comments. If this triggers any interest or comment, go with it.
1) a) What is Science? and b) Is Science a good thing? (Groups of 4) Ask groups to discuss and report back to class. Allow each group to choose one of the questions, and a few minutes to discuss and write down their answer.(If you like, have sets of two colours of card ready, each with one of the questions on it. “Does your group want blue, or yellow?) Be prepared for some students to be negative, but ready to challenge the negativity via this lesson…. For example, if they have hated Science lessons in the past, ask “was that science?”. Also talk about Science programmes on tv eg CSI, Bones, Bang, etc they may have seen.
2) Each group reports back, which question they chose and what their answer was. Ask other groups for any reaction or comment.Allow time for class debate (one person speaking at a time) if forthcoming. Support and encourage and try to get a discussion going.
3) Show clip 2, the pgce students.
4)Explain that GCSE requires them to learn more about the way scientists work. What do you think all Scientists have in common? ( give examples on the board or on cards, with illustrations if you like…).Forensic Scientists; Dinosaur Specialists; Science professors; Sports Scientists; Space scientists). Each group to come up with their list of 4/5 things that all scientists have in common. Again, try to get each group to report back to the class.
4) Challenge: Can girls make better Scientists than boys? Ask this question, see if you can get a reaction and stir up some debate!. Show the footage of Elaine Greeney, rocket scientist (clip 4. End on the green/black “monkeys evolve” section). Ask: Do girls make better scientists than boys? (And if so, why are there more male scientists than female?)
5) Conclusion: Show clip 13, Susan Blackmore. That could actually be the inspiration to help some of the students to see the value of Science - and of higher education!
6) PLENARY:Ask: Would you ever consider a scientific career (eg vet; nurse; space scientist; forensic scientist; archeologist/bone expert; engineer; doctor; etc)
Extension tasks for fast groups: Can you think of reasons why everybody should learn some science? (3 reasons). Can you think of 10 topics everybody should know about? (cloning, radiation, climate change, DNA, electrical safety, pollution..). Be prepared to explain and justify your ideas to the class.
Possible Homework: research a scientist of your choice and prepare a short presentation (or be prepared for a balloon debate!) OR prepare a list of the top 10 scientists of all time (female if you like,,,) OR use the internet to come up with your top 10 scientific challenges of our time… OR choose a television science programme and find 5 examples of things they do which prove they are a scientist. OR find the Why is Science Important website and make your own contribution.
FLEXIBILITY : with some classes, the discussion could last all lesson. With others it’s over in 10 minutes or never gets off the ground. So you need extra activities in reserve. A suggestion would be: have a simple practical activity ready, where you ask them to think scientifically. This could be almost anything eg a fair test for how strong paper towels are. Let it have several possible stages (eg dry strength; wet strength; absorbancy) and several options as to how to carry it out (eg slotted masses AND newton force meters). Get each group to plan at least one stage, and then write down HOW they would make their approach “scientific”. Report back to class, and perhaps invite a “vote” as to how scientific they have been out of 10.