This year, the Bodmin Partnership has been focusing on raising the profile of science in their school communities and developing aspirations. To help them achieve this, they have held a virtual science fair that all 10 of their partnership schools took part in, with children joining in from nurseries all the way to Year 6!
To coincide with the science fair, many of the schools also held their own science week and there was exciting science happening every day, including whole school investigations, STEM challenges, family science quizzes, workshops and more!
It was awesome! I’ve had so much fun doing all the science this week. I think we should have science events more often because I want to be a scientist when I’m older!
Phoenix, aged 7
Alongside this, the schools also ran science busking. The school science ambassadors (which were set up in all of the schools in September as part of their Ogden partnership) recorded videos of fun experiments to try at home. These were shared on Facebook and other social media, allowing more children in the schools to have a go!
“The buzz that this event has created in our schools about science is huge!” enthuses Simon Rowe, Partnership Co-ordinator. “It has been wonderful to see our children so excited and enthusiastic and many now want to be scientists when they grow up! We have already decided to hold this event again next year as it was so successful. But we have set ourselves the challenge of next year’s science fair being carried out across all 19 schools of the Kernow Learning Trust!”
Hundreds of children submitted video entries to the virtual science fair. Nursery, EYFS and KS1 children explored ‘Science all around us’ and the KS2 pupils had ‘Fun with physics.’ Each school selected winners across the groups and awarded science books, kits and goodies! Seven main winners were selected from each school and given tickets to a virtual science show delivered by Wonderstruck. The show explored forces and energy with the online audience and included gherkin lightbulbs, exploding rice crispies, rockets and egg-plosions!
Ogden regional representative, Sally Fulford had the difficult task of selecting one overall winner. In the end she chose Mako for his amazing ‘magic water rising’ experiment and fantastic explanation of the science involved. Mako received a large home science kit, a personalised lab coat and a year’s subscription to the ‘Whizz Pop Bang!’ science magazine.
"When I was sent the shortlist of videos from the science fair I watched each of them with a huge smile on my face," says Sally. "The standard of presentation and science content was incredibly high and the video format really allowed the children to portray their passion and interest for their projects.
"It was incredibly hard to pick just one winner! A big thank you to all of the staff involved in this project - their support and enthusiasm allowed the science fair to be run so successfully despite COVID restrictions," concludes Sally.
Thinking about planning your own virtual science fair? Simon explains some of the technical logistics behind the event.
When the plans for the Science Fair first began to take shape, the intention was to have a traditional face to face event, but the COVID-19 restrictions meant that we had to be creative and use technology to ensure it could still go ahead. After exploring a variety of options, we decided to use ‘Flipgrid’, a video and discussion platform.
Flipgrid allows children to record videos of a few minutes long where they could show an investigation or demonstrate science around them and explain what was happening. Once posted, the other children could then leave video responses or text comments to these. It was great to see so many conversations and discussions taking place about science!
Our Ogden regional representative put us in touch with a teacher from another Ogden partnership who was able to provide training on using Flipgrid and it was great to see everyone so enthusiastic about the possibilities it has! We created trust-wide guidance on using Flipgrid for both parents and teachers and shared ‘how to’ videos on social media. You can download the pdf of our school’s Flipgrid guide.
Interestingly, at our recent evaluation meeting for the event all the teachers in the partnership said that the virtual part of the science fair is something they would choose to keep the same for next time even when COVID restrictions have been removed. We felt it meant that we could share our science wider and further; the science fair had a greater uptake with many children trying things at home with their families. It has also made it easier to judge across many schools and it has provided us with lots of evidence to show how our children are enthusiastic and passionate scientists!