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Getting kids excited about science CHUGD November 5th, 2007 ‘Your Planet Earth’ is a new programme to take basic science into schools, using major themes.

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Presentation on theme: "Getting kids excited about science CHUGD November 5th, 2007 ‘Your Planet Earth’ is a new programme to take basic science into schools, using major themes."— Presentation transcript:

1 Getting kids excited about science CHUGD November 5th, 2007 ‘Your Planet Earth’ is a new programme to take basic science into schools, using major themes in the earth sciences

2 Aims of YPE Tell kids about volcanoes, global change, dinosaurs… Use these themes to develop analytical skills Get them thinking seriously about studying scientific subjects (especially Earth sciences) at University… And so maintain a flow of good students into science- based jobs

3 Background Your Planet Earth was launched in 2007-8 as a part of the UNESCO International Year of Planet Earth (2008) It is a programme developed by the Geologists’ Association, in association with the Geological Society of London, and the Earth Science Education Unit The initial work in 2007-8 has been sponsored by Shell The powerpoints were prepared by Dr Jess Trofimovs, a volcanologist, with close involvement from Professor Mike Benton, a dinosaurologist, both at the University of Bristol

4 What’s next? We have prepared talks initially for the 14-15 age group, but will soon make versions suitable also for the 8-9 age group as well We will add another 5 or 6 topics We will seek additional funding to produce posters and mail shots to schools throughout the UK We will extend the website provision with follow-up information, and careers and university advice The website [] is easy to remember: 4567 Myr is the age of the Earth (more or less!)

5 How does it work? The YPE team have produced five ppt shows about Dinosaurs, Global change, Interior of the Earth, Geohazards, Volcanoes These are available from The images are all in the public domain. Each talk has a commentary/script built in, so you can use the talks with confidence Samples…

6 What is a volcano? A volcano is a vent or 'chimney' that connects molten rock (magma) from within the Earth ’ s crust to the Earth's surface. The volcano includes the surrounding cone of erupted material. vent cone magma chamber conduit

7 Practical Exercise 1. What controls the violence of an eruption? How fast is magma ejected out of the volcano?

8 Practical Exercise 1. What is the biggest possible size a dinosaur could be?

9 Exercises in analytical thinking are available as work sheets Can be done as part of the show, or later Talks constructed in 3 segments, with practical exercises interspersed

10 Why do volunteers need training? Presenting science in schools can be huge fun, but it has to be done right A badly prepared or badly presented session will do great harm Some people are ‘naturals’, but a few practical tips can avoid difficulties on the day

11 Long-term value for students Presenting science to kids is a great way for students to learn a subject Talking in schools is excellent preparation for all kinds of presentations - and presentation skills are of key importance in most graduate jobs Some students may find the experience useful in deciding whether they want to go into teaching or other educational work as a career The students’ institution/ department may decide to provide credit points or certification of proficiency - in any case, this kind of experience is good on the c.v.

12 It really isn’t so difficult… Kids are keen to learn…

13 How do kids learn science? Good ways to engage kids are to relate a scientific idea to something familiar or to a joke For example, if you want to explain the concept of safety factors in biology (small animals have relatively higher safety factors than large animals), try these: –A flea can jump thirty times its body length… so, why can’t an elephant do that? –[In a thought experiment,] drop a cat and a cow from the roof of the school - which one breaks its legs… and why? –Why can’t elephants really gallop; and why could the sauropod dinosaur Diplodocus only walk?

14 Engaging older kids You might think 14-and 15-year olds are quite scary in large numbers But they can relate to a story well told: much of science is like a detective story - you have clues, you have a problem to solve, and you have to work through the clues, and do some lateral thinking… Humour and gore can help [examples on last page] Career aspects are important - it’s worth talking about yourself and your aspirations, and the kinds of careers open to scientists [this is probably less interesting to younger age groups]

15 How to do it We stress five aspects of presenting a successful science show in a school: 1.Preparing the show 2.Preparing the school 3.Preparing yourself 4.Delivery 5.Follow-up Students are given a half-day training session on these issues, and they are each asked to present a 5- minute segment so the instructor can decide if they are up to it.

16 Practicalities for a HoD A member of staff, perhaps called the Engagement/ Outreach Coordinator, ought to look after the programme Student volunteers should be sought (perhaps final- year UGs, MSc, PhD students) Training should be organised - either by the coordinator or by a Set-squared trainer The tricky thing is finding school contacts and making the bookings - may need some dedicated secretarial time until a mailing list of interested teachers is built up

17 Who and where? We suggest that HoDs encourage trained students to take the talks back to their home schools, but also begin to take them out to local schools Target appropriate teachers - Geography, Chemistry, Physics, Biology (Geology is you’re lucky) Your university may have a Schools Liaison Officer who can provide lists of schools and teachers At present, aimed at 14/15-year olds, so at time of GCSE and A-level choice. Plan to extend to 8/9 year olds

18 Follow-up The teachers may have asked you to provide worksheets or to leave specimens or other materials If they have not done this, ask if they’d like follow-up activities Follow-up worksheets might refer the teachers and kids to a recent article or website for further reading, or you might have a problem sheet they can use - problems can be simple numerical calculations or debate questions Make sure they ask for another presentation on the same topic, or a different topic

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