It’s British Science Week!
This year, British Science Week runs from the 11th to the 20th of March. The theme is ‘Growth’ and there are loads of free resources on the website to help plan activities.
Does any of that information really matter? No. If those dates don’t fit well into your school calendar it doesn’t matter and if the theme isn’t your cup of tea that’s fine too.
The question you must ask yourself is…Why are we having science week?
What do you really want to achieve?
Are you hoping to raise the profile of science in school; do you want to promote STEM careers and prove that all scientists don’t wear lab coats; do you want to share your children’s science learning with parents or the local community; make connections between science learning and everyday lives; look deeper into the world’s eco-issues or do you just want to celebrate your love of science?
There is no right or wrong answer as long as it will impact your children and meet their science learning needs! It doesn’t even have to be a week!
Here are some tried and tested ideas that can be made as complicated or as simple as you fancy and can be adapted to fit any theme:
Science Selfies #whereisthescience?
Challenge children to find science at home and ask parent/ guardians to send in their ‘Science Selfie’. The challenge is for children to identify where the science is in the picture. We have done this for the past two years in school and received all sorts of brilliant entries from painting nails (changing states) to jumping off furniture (gravity). We made it into a competition and shared a few in assembly!
Tip: lead by example, ask school staff to share some of their own science selfies to kickstart the challenge!
Whole school enquiry
Pick a scientific enquiry (In the past I have picked them from the ASE TAPS resources, got ideas from Pinterest or delved into the primary science twitter community) and adapt it so that each year group throughout the school can access it. For example:
Growing gummy bears
If you put a gummy bear in water and wait, it grows. This simple observation over time can be used in many different ways. EYFS could make predictions and Year 6 could plan their own enquiries to answer their own questions: How does it work? What happens if different liquids are used?
If you fancy your chances at a show assembly filled with elephants toothpaste, burning tea bags and ‘popping’ ziplock bags over the heads of the SLT, GO FOR IT (but don’t forget to check your school’s CLEEAPS membership first).
If this is too optimistic, there are lots of other options too. You could lead an assembly on different scientists – ones from days gone by or more current ones. You could talk about how not all scientists wear lab coats and how science is important for so many different careers.
At the moment, there is a big push to involve girls in science but I personally prefer the angle that everyone can be a scientist regardless of gender. The last time I did this, I prepared a simple enquiry and picked a boy and girl to carry it out. Both children succeeded and proved the point nicely!
Although Science Selfies can tick this box, there are lots of other ways that you can involve parents and the wider community in your scientific celebrations! Science 4 Families has lots of great ideas starting with simpler activities such as science selfies and science home shares and builds up to full science extravaganzas. Each activity is broken into five bite-size chunks and there is something for everyone! Last year, we held a science fair at school. Across the school, children set up their own stands outlining an aspect of science from the year so far and parents were invited to share in their children’s learning. It was a great success and we even invited the Mayor and local councillors.
There are many exciting (and at times expensive) visitors that you can invite into school to enrich your science week…or just science learning in general. One free option is STEM Learning’s STEM Ambassadors scheme. You simply apply on the website and explain your aims and you will be matched with an appropriate STEM Ambassador.
However there are probably a number of ‘scientists’ sitting right under your nose…parents and guardians! They might not even realise that they have a job in STEM or might not think they have anything relevant to say but they most certainly do. Science is an important factor in so many jobs today and many people don’t even realise it!
Yes, lab technicians and doctors are brilliant but what about farmers, firemen and chefs? Plants and animals, reactions and nutrition are all important parts of the primary science curriculum. Really, the possibilities are endless!
There you have it! If you are still unsure or would like some more inspiration, don’t forget that you can always ask for help. The primary science community on Twitter is incredibly rich and filled with invaluable experience and they love to lead a hand – anything to help children and teachers develop a love of science!