Working in Role as a Scientist
We have a focus on working in role as a scientist within each of our science units throughout the school. It is central to a number of our key ideals of science teaching. Firstly, that it links to real life applications and secondly that it inspires children to real career paths in the sciences. I liken this to areas such as sport – many children may say they want to be a footballer –this is a specific dream, a real life job. They have an interest and a love of a sport. However, they may not love all sports but they have a passion for football. I want children to find their passion within the sciences.
If you want to have an idea of how children perceive scientists within your school set them the task of drawing one.
If you are the science subject leader for your school this is a great way to get a snap shot of any stereotypes they hold. Unless, they have had a good educational diet of real life scientists I am sure what you will find is a set of drawings that depict a mad science character often portrayed in comics and cartoons.
This is what I found the first time I conducted an activity like this. What I found most disappointing was that not a single child depicted a female scientist. We must tackle and work against these stereotypes if we want to encourage children to see the real life roles within science today. Last year when I conducted this activity it was great to see that there was only the odd mad science character. 40% of the drawings were female scientists, 45% were actual scientists like Hawkin or Edison and 90% reflected real life science roles and skills. You can also make this a class-focused task and use it to demonstrate how you have helped their idea of a scientist to progress throughout the year.
How do we achieve this?
Each science unit has an allocated science role. For example when learning about seasonal change the Year 1 children will also work in role as a meteorologist. They will learn about the skills needed for the role and have a go at these within practical lessons. Within lessons we constantly refer back to who we are working in role as.
I walked into Year 3 last term and asked a boy what he was doing and he told me he was a geologist.
This is reflected on our working wall displays as the children build up a picture of the scientist throughout the unit. We constantly refer back to this throughout the unit. Where appropriate the children will also learn about real life people within the field of science. By the time children reach year 6 they will investigate and debate who they think has made the greatest contribution to the field of science they are studying. Keep an eye out for future posts when I will outline how this works best within each key stage.