Two Ogden representatives were amongst the UK delegation of 14 who attended the European Science on Stage Festival, which was this year held in Debrecen, Hungary.
Under the festival motto of "Inventing the Future of Science Education", Ogden Primary Consultant and Scientist in Residence at Gillespie Primary (London), Carole Kenrick presented The Manuka Honey project: children as scientists.
The idea behind the project, says Carole, came from a question asked by a parent, who wondered whether claims about the honey’s benefits to health could be substantiated. Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand from the nectar of the Manuka flower. The honey is commonly sold as an alternative medicine and a component found in the honey has demonstrated antibacterial properties in vitro. However, Carole could find no evidence that eating it had an impact on people’s health. So, she put together a team of child scientists, aged seven to eleven, to investigate.
In the summer of 2015, children at Gillespie Primary made international news when the findings of their double-blind controlled trial suggested that Manuka honey is not effective in preventing colds and minor illnesses.
“Whilst the numbers involved in the trial may mean that the results are not entirely scientifically reliable,” says Carole, “the experiment has led to our child ‘beesearchers’ really seeing themselves as scientists. Children from across the school helped with data input and analysis and they would like child-led research groups in other schools to double check their results by trying the experiment out in their own schools.’
“Science on Stage was the most wonderful and confidence-building experience. I felt a bit disruptive - every time I explained to visitors that primary school children had carried out this research, their eyes widened in amazement. Especially secondary school teachers, who I hope will go away reflecting on how to challenge their younger pupils more, and maybe even to collaborate with their local primaries. I now have a notebook full of contacts and ideas to follow up on – can’t wait to see where we go next!”
Ogden Teacher Fellow, Jackie Flaherty was also at the conference to represent The Ogden Trust; she was tasked with visiting as many stands, workshops and shows as possible! Jackie will be using the information gathered to bring new ideas to her Ogden work and will also be feeding back to The Royal Society who will be looking at new ways to share the best practice seen by the UK delegation from their international peers.
“The opportunity to hear about the best practice in science teaching from all over Europe was amazing,” says Jackie. “I have come back with a long list of new ideas. I would urge our Ogden Trust teachers to think about projects that they could submit to the festival in 2019, so that they can experience this inspirational networking event. It was great to see Sam Croston at the exhibition this year. Sam is a Specialist Teaching Assistant at Shrubland Street Primary School – hub of the Ogden Leamington Spa Primary Partnership. She was in Hungary to showcase the fantastic work that she does at the school with Space Camp UK – a programme of residential experiences, immersing pupils into the amazing world of space science.”
The conference was attended by over 450 teachers and technicians from all over the world who came together to exchange innovative teaching concepts and share ideas. The ultimate goal of Science on Stage is to improve science teaching by encouraging creativity in science teachers and spreading good teaching concepts; through this, they hope to encourage more schoolchildren to consider a career in science or engineering. Since its launch in 2000, Science on Stage estimate that it has reached about 100,000 teachers and teacher trainers in 30 countries.
UK teachers and educational professionals can find out more about Science on Stage UK by inviting the UK delegates to participate in national and local teaching events such as annual conferences, local teach meets and teacher network meetings.
For more information visit: http://www.science-on-stage.eu/page/display/4/88/0/festival-2017