The British Science Association (BSA) has launched a free curriculum-based secondary teaching resource to help re-engage students with practical science learning. Entitled Investigative practical science in the curriculum: Making it happen, this resource will help teachers and students get back into practical science projects post-lockdown.

Created with support from The Gatsby Charitable Foundation (Gatsby), the resource follows its report into the impact of Covid-19 on practical science in schools and colleges, which found that 40 per cent of teachers were unable to plan practical science work last term.

Recognising that practical science is key to motivating students and engaging those traditionally less interested in science, the resource includes top tips, ideas and guidance for science teachers and technicians to set up open-ended, extended investigative practical work.

As a result of school closures and Covid-19 restrictions, many teachers have been unable to carry out practical science lessons in classrooms. Therefore, the secondary curriculum mapping resource is designed to bridge this gap and support teachers with planning fun and engaging STEM practical work now that students are back in the classroom. This includes case studies and best practice from schools who have successfully implemented investigative practical work at GCSE, A-level and BTEC levels.

With four fifths of teachers confirming an increase in workloads due to remote teaching during Covid-19, the resource will help to lighten the load for teachers. The resource explains how schools can integrate investigative work into lesson time, including examples of the projects other teachers have run in the past, thereby reducing the number of hours teachers have to spend planning.

The resource also incorporates the BSA’s CREST Awards, which encourage students to think like scientists and complete their own hands-on science investigations. This project-based learning approach enables students to get creative and expand their STEM knowledge and skill set, including:

  • improved motivation and confidence with practical science work
  • developed independent thinking and resilience
  • enhanced understanding of how science works in the real world.

Maria Rossini, Head of Education at the British Science Association, said:

“Teachers and students have been away from school science labs for a long while, which is why it’s crucial that we help young people rediscover their joy of practical science learning. The secondary curriculum mapping resource has been designed to provide a simple and easy way for teachers to incorporate exciting science investigations that will motivate and engage students.  

“Hands-on science learning is one of the most effective methods to get students having fun and experiencing real-world science in action, for themselves. This is important to help young people from all backgrounds understand that the sky is the limit when it comes to what they can do and achieve in STEM.”

Further research from Gatsby also found that, while girls account for 50 per cent of entries to Physics GCSE, they form just 23 per cent of Physics entries at A-level. Providing strong opportunities throughout the secondary science curriculum that appeal to all genders to experience STEM first-hand is an important step in breaking down STEM misconceptions and raising awareness of the different career paths available.

Beth Jones, from Gatsby Education, said:

“We are pleased to see the launch of the British Science Association’s new practical science resource. Gatsby’s previous international research into Good Practical Science demonstrated the importance of investigation and project work to the development of the scientific skills of students. This resource will help teachers to embed project work, particularly the CREST Awards, into the curriculum, ensuring more young people have access to this valuable experience.”

The resource is available to download now from the CREST resource library. For more information, please click here or contact us at [email protected]