Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Science - Expert Choice: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Science - Expert Choice: Resources

Article excerpt

Call on friends and family for a network of accessible 'experts'.

As teachers, we are constantly looking for new ways to engage pupils, yet we often overlook resources that are right under our noses. In my case, it was my 83-year-old grandfather John Smart, a retired hydrologist who probably knows more about some aspects of the science curriculum than I do.

But it took months of discussing various scientific concepts and experiments with him over the phone before the penny finally dropped and I invited him to be part of a lesson. He was thrilled and the results were priceless.

My grandfather worked for the Institute of Hydrology on a project in the Hafren Forest of Mid-Wales, where he focused on the management, monitoring and protection of water quality and its sources. So setting up a Skype call with such an expert, recording it and showing it to a Year 7 class to help facilitate their learning about acid rain seemed like a logical thing to do.

What was it that made it so special, and so different from me being centre stage? First, the access to such a specialist is often hard to come by. So finding friends or family members who can describe their experience in the field to pupils in the classroom is vital in giving purpose to young people's learning.

A new face is also engaging and, when used as a voice-over to pictures or videos, can give a whole new slant to the lesson.

The process was simple but effective. I showed a three-minute video of my grandfather to my Year 7 class, accompanied by footage from his home. …

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