How do you keep five years’ worth of information in your head? And how do you make sure that all of that information will be there when the ‘exam panic’ hits in the hall?
These are questions that we have been thinking hard about in the science faculty recently. The nature of learning science is that there will always be lots of information to work with and lots of ideas to consider. Even the word ‘science’ itself comes from the Latin for ‘knowledge’, so it’s important that we think not only about how we communicate this knowledge, but also how we make sure it sticks. This year, we have been using Hinge Assessments in our GCSE science and child development lessons. These have been written so that they help the students to recall the knowledge they have gained over the last group of lessons, then challenge them to show they understand it and can apply it to a new scenario. The idea of bringing together all the component parts of a topic to build a strong, coherent idea is intended to help students to build secure, long term memories that can be drawn upon later, rather than individual lessons that can easily be forgotten or misremembered.
Our science curriculum has been designed to regularly revisit and build upon knowledge and skills from year 7 to 13 – we introduce big ideas early on and then gradually increase the level of detail, or the complexity of the concept that is being studied. With the addition of a little touch of ‘National Academy Magic’, such as building log flumes to learn about energy; making 3D models of cells or modelling electricity by moving around the classroom in a conga line, we like to make sure that the experience of science lessons is memorable in lots of ways! The school’s vision of experiencing Life in All its Fullness is at the centre of our planning – we want to share our passion for science and our joy in interacting with and understanding the world around us. It’s also important to allow chances to think about big questions such as our responsibility for the Earth, the origins of the universe and the ethical problems that scientific advancement can sometimes present.
This time of year is a good opportunity to reflect on some of the successes we have experienced too. Our STEM club started the year by completing a series of team building challenges, including making catapults and rafts to transport the greatest possible masses and researching and designing a plan for humans to live on Mars. Year 11 students in both science and child development have recently completed their mock exams, and we have seen exceptional achievement from Terry, Ava, Esme, Jaydn, Jack, Leo, Georgia, Liam, Josh and Josie already this year – well done to all of them!
We hope that through the lessons we teach in the science faculty, students will leave feeling proud of their achievements and with lasting memories, not only of the scientific knowledge they have acquired, but also of the experience they had in getting there.