CREST Star - A case study
After coming across CREST Star at a training session, Sarah, inspired by the activities, went back to school and started a club with years 3 and 4 (ages 7 to 9). Because the CREST Star activities involve very little writing, Sarah felt they would be ideal for a group of lower ability students who were enthusiastic about science but needed some extra guidance through tried-and-tested ideas. She got another colleague involved, running her through the brief training, and together they started up the new club. The club ran for an hour every week, and soon word was spreading among the students about how much fun it was. So much so that Sarah trained another two colleagues and they ran a new club with year 2 students.
‘The fact that everything is in place really helps’ said Sarah. ‘You have all the resources there and you just need 10–15 minutes before, to get yourself together and do photocopying, etc. It’s very little extra work. It was great for our students’ she added ‘because of the emphasis on investigation and talk, rather than recording. And they can see progress through their log books. It gives them a sense of achievement that can be celebrated in assembly.’
‘The science club had far-reaching effects beyond its evening slot. The whole scheme and the process of running a CREST Star club really impacted on staff, children and the school. It built my confidence’ she explained. ‘It gave me more creative ideas that I could then take back to the classroom. It also reminded me that you don’t always have to record [in the traditional way] but that there are different ways to keep evidence of the children’s work … we took lots of photos!’
• Having run the club for a number of terms and trained up other colleagues, Sarah now plans to run a training day for the rest of her staff as she thinks the activities could inspire creative class science throughout the school. She also has some tips for anyone planning to run a club:
• Be prepared! Even if you are using a pre-prepared scheme such as Crest Star, give yourself the time to get your head around what you are doing.
• Have a regular (and large enough) space where you can really spread out and do lots of practical investigations.
• Don’t cancel the club if you can help it.
• Have accessible resources (so everyone involved knows where they are).Talk to the children, find out what they know and what they would like to investigate.
• Be flexible: have the confidence to go with the children’s ideas and give them some independence in learning.
• Get parents involved: giving students challenges to take home can really help with this.
• Rewards and goals: it helps you and the students to have a sense of purpose and something to celebrate (the CREST Star scheme has this built in, but you could create your own if you wanted to).
• Another pair of hands really makes a difference; share what you are doing and get other staff on board.
Sarah’s students had plenty to say about the impact of the club on their lives and their learning. Like other children involved with the scheme, most felt that doing CREST Star Investigators had helped them get better at solving problems, learning science, talking about ideas, listening to other people’s ideas, doing science investigations, and talking about what they did and what they found out.
After a few terms of the club running, the highlights of a science club were explained by some of the children. ‘Doing activities and meeting people I did not know so well’ said one 10-year-old-girl, and ‘We got to do fun experiments’ chipped in an 8-year-old boy. ‘The best one was when we got to make airplanes’ said another boy, while one of the younger girls insisted that ‘bubbles were better’ than planes. ‘What would make club better?’ I asked. They all wanted a club that continued to the end of primary school and had more extended projects (they had just done the CREST SuperStar awards up to that point, made up of discrete activities that change each week). They were delighted to find out that the MegaStar award (which is all about longer extended projects) was exactly what they had been asking for. They were all clearly interested and engaged with the club, even though it had not yet started up again that term. It had obviously had an impact on them, and it was wonderful to see the real difference that doing CREST Star activities was making to their confidence and their love of science, which, after all, is the whole point to running the club. Their enthusiasm was infectious. One boy even suggested that they start having science club at the weekend. ‘We could do it on Sundays after church!’ he exclaimed.