Let’s get physic-AL

14 November 2018

At the start of this month, Bury Grammar School hosted the University of Manchester’s Annual Primary Science Conference organised by Dr Lynne Bianchi (SEERIH).

‘Let’s get Physic-AL’ was a bespoke teacher conference with special focus on primary physics and arts-infused learning. One hundred and twenty-one primary teachers from across Greater Manchester attended this sponsored one-day conference which drew on partnerships with The Ogden Trust, BASF, Curious Minds and The Derby High School.

The conference keynote speaker was Professor Tim O'Brien, the Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics and Director of Teaching and Learning in The University of Manchester School of Physics. Professor O'Brien, who is regularly seen on television on programmes such as Stargazing Live and who has been a contributor to Radio 4's The Infinite Monkey Cage, spoke about ‘The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life.’ He inspired teachers with contemporary research and how this can form the basis for their own and children’s questions. This insight into the search for other planets from such a well-regarded physicist proved a great start to the day.

A series of workshops followed with sessions based on enhancing teaching and learning in the mainstream curriculum based on Earth & space, electrical circuits and light as well as primary assessment, engineering and use of the outdoors. Three workshops were led by representatives from The Ogden Trust: Amanda Poole, Resource Development Lead took delegates on a ‘Trip to the Light Fantastic’ as she gave a comprehensive insight into the teaching and learning of light at primary level; Simon Rhodes, Regional Representative for the Trust, delivered a practical workshop on ‘Creative Currents’ inspiring delegates to explore how electricity can be used to encourage creativity in science; and finally, Jackie Flaherty, National Teaching & Learning Lead, took the audience on a whistle-stop tour of the solar system with lots of interactive demonstrations and activities that were ‘Out of this World.’

Throughout these workshops, and throughout the day, participants gained confidence in the use of enquiry-based learning in challenging physics concepts, learning more about ‘working scientifically’ and understanding how to better avoid common misconceptions in the classroom.

In the afternoon, teachers explored how arts-based approaches can aid in the teaching of primary science. Delegates also had the opportunity to browse stalls from providers such as the BBC, the ASE, Curiosity Box, STEM Ambassadors, YPO and Catalyst Science Discovery Centre.

One participant, Dave Senevirante, science subject leader from Alexandra Park Primary School in Stockport, described the conference as being, "even better than last year. Lots of practical ideas, great collaboration and all at a great venue." Conference organiser and Director of SEERIH, Dr Lynne Bianchi, said that the conference had, "worked outstandingly well, in particular due to the collegiality and partnership offered by the Ogden Trust. What teachers saw from this was a connected and supportive network of primary science specialists focused on offering high-quality professional learning.

“This falls at a time where we find there is still a great need to enhance teacher confidence in science and engineering, which the workshops throughout the day did so well,” continues Lynne. “We hope to develop our partnership with the Trust so that children’s learning of science in Greater Manchester schools can go from strength to strength."

Overall the event was a great success, with the outcome of developing high quality science teaching, learning and assessment well and truly met.

Don’t forget the SEERIH Great Science Share for Schools 2019 takes please on 18 June. For further information about how to get involved with SEERIH please visit their website or contact fascinate@manchester.ac.uk.

A report on the day first appeared on the BGS website.

Circuits photo: credit to Muhammad Ibrahim and Tom Edwards from Curious Minds: muhammad.ibrahim@curiousminds.org.uk & Tom.edwards@curiousminds.org.uk

Other photos: Sam Gilliland SGilliland@burygrammar.com

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