“At Head Squeeze, James May and his crack team of sci-geeks, maths-nerds and tech-heads provide answers to all your burning questions. From everyday curiosities to the latest mind blowing discoveries; our experts break it down for you and give their own left-field insights, sideways interpretations and bizarre, entertaining facts.”
You can find the free resources from head squeeze here.
Listen to James May talk about Head Squeeze:
Examples of the type of video (that you might use with students)
If you visit and find the resources useful, tell them that I sent you!
I have updated the KS4 Science FAQ with all the responses I have received so far. It can be viewed by following the teaching tips menu and navigating to KS4 Science FAQ (or by following this link)
It isn’t too late to contribute – a lot of teachers marked my Tweet as a favourite and then didn’t respond. I want feedback from everyone from techicians, NQTs, teachers right through to heads of department. Everyone is equal in the KS4 Science FAQ!
KS4 courses are a necessary evil for science teachers. As part of the core curriculum we see all of the students in the school. This can present a number of problems in itself in trying to select a qualification that best suits your school population. Do you go with one qualification or two? How do you choose which exam board to follow? Are all exam boards equal or are some boards better than others? Have you had a good experience running a qualification or do you have a darker story to tell?
Whatever your experiences I want to hear about them and collate them for other science teachers to use. It doesn’t matter what you have to say – good or bad experiences, comments on coursework, customer service, pupil results etc.
You can contribute in several ways:
You can email me (by filling in the contact form on my site)
You can tweet using the hashtag #KS4Sci (You don’t have to @cleverfiend for me to see these)
You can leave a comment on my Facebook page
Leave a comment on this post
Send smoke rings using a bunsen burner and a lighted splint (I can’t guarantee seeing all of these though).
This experiment will only work if lots of teachers make a contribution, so you can help by spreading the word and of course by providing me with comments and information yourself. There is no such thing as too much information – it only takes a minute to feedback. I look forward to hearing from you…
Social networking was something I could never have imagined as a student. I sat as a third year university student chatting on amateur bulletin boards over my high-tech dial-up modem and using chat rooms on CompuServe (who charged for access by the minute). I was using the internet before the WWW started and thought it would never catch on but my imagination didn’t extend to a powerful computer in my pocket with the internet, GPS and social networking. Today our students (often labelled digital natives) have grown up with this level of technology and they aren’t phased by it. Of course with this familiarity comes a level of complacency that has recently surprised me.
I hear on technology sites that Facebook isn’t cool anymore (it’s where your parents hang out) so youngsters are moving to Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr instead. After years of nagging and much publicity our youngsters have grown used to the privacy settings that keep them safe. Unfortunately these privacy settings aren’t as detailed in the other networks that are intended to be more open and public. On Twitter you are either private or public, and in an ecosystem where the number of followers matters, many teenagers opt to leave their steam public meaning it is open to all. Many Twitter clients also have the ability to attach a location to individual tweets meaning that these tweets are searchable by location.
This is a screenshot of an app called Banjo for iOS. You can enter a location and see tweets and instagram photos on a map, many of these people are posting status updates from home. I’ve zoomed out of the map on this screenshot but you can zoom to street level quite easily.
So does the content of your twitter stream matter? Perhaps being from an older generation I think differently to the youth of today, but many of the tweets I see contain obscene language, sexual references and reference to drunken behaviour. If this information is public it is quite possible for it to come to light at a later date and scupper employment prospects as Paris Brown found out when she got a high profile job. The same is true of teachers who tweet the same kind of tweets.
The moral of the story is to exercise some common sense before you post and turn on location reporting with caution (and only use it where you want the location to be reported). How do we get that message through to our students?
I indulged in one of my guilty pleasures last night watching Secret Eaters on Channel 4. As part of the programme, an ‘expert’ has a theory about eating and they get a single group of students in a room to test them out (once!). They then present what they have found out as scientific fact. Granted the theory has probably been postulated and tested elsewhere but this gives the impression that a quick experiment is enough to test a theory. No mention of repeating or other measures we might take to ensure the reliability of the data. I’ve watched a few episodes and sit grating my teeth every time – for those of you who have never seen Secret Eaters there’s a clip here with the science here.
Today I was indulging in another guilty pleasure, reading the Times on my iPad (before I get berated it’s my partner’s subscription!) and I saw a headline grabbing article about the dangerous levels of sugar in ‘natural foods’ and how many are higher than Coca Cola. The graphic below immediately had me blowing steam out of my ears – how can you compare a litre of cranberry juice, 500g of All-Bran, a jar of chicken sauce and a can of Cola? What do they mean by ‘natural foods’? Why let science get in the way of a good headline?
As a science graduate and science teacher, I see through lots of the information presented to us by the media as ‘scientifically proven’ but my students will not. That means I will likely have to do extra work to unpick the bad science and explain how it should be. Worryingly there seems to be plenty of examples to choose from…
If you can think of any other examples you might want to leave a comment below or tweet me @cleverfiend and I’ll add them as a comment.
The BBC learning zone currently has some useful resources available for you to use in the classroom or link to from your own websites (perhaps those of you who share a blog/Twitter stream with your group).
Here they are, courtesy of the BBC, for your viewing and teaching pleasure!
The ImagineersA series of inspirational films (in production) celebrating the work of young engineers trying to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. Presented by Fran Scott
Beneath the Lab CoatTV presenter Rani Price explores existing and future aspirational careers involving science, meeting young men and women working at the cutting edge of fashion, food, rocket science and computer chip technology.
Alchemist’s ApprenticeCambridge chemist Dr Peter Wothers offers 12 Key Stage 3 students the unique opportunity to join him in his laboratory for a master class exploring the four ancient elements: Water, Earth, Air and Fire – with explosive results.
The Code (reversion)Each film begins with a mystery that will be explained by a mathematical concept, taking viewers on an odyssey to uncover the code and reveal its meaning. Presented by Professor Marcus du Sautoy.
Genius of Invention (reversion)Our experts explain how these inventions came about by sparks of inventive genius and steady incremental improvements. They separate myth from reality in the lives of the great inventors and celebrate some of the most remarkable stories in British history.
Wonders of Life (reversion)
Ep 1-Prof Brian Cox explores how Earth became host to the incredible natural world we see today.
Ep 2-Prof Brian Cox explains how life is shaped by both the environment and the laws of nature.
Wonders of the Universe (reversion)Professor Brian Cox witnesses the wonders of the universe through some of the most breathtaking environments on Earth. In the process, he reveals how the most fundamental scientific principles and laws explain not only the story of the universe, but the story of us all.
Bitesize ScienceScientist and rapper Jon Chase has 60 entertaining minutes to reveal his top 20 demonstrations and brings school science to life using music, magic tricks and everyday objects such as toffees, coins, and cups of very sweet tea.
Inside the Human Body (reversion)Using spectacular graphics based on the latest science and stories of remarkable people around the world, Michael Mosley takes us on a fantastic voyage through our inner universe.
Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey (reversion)Presenters Kate Humble and Dr Helen Czerski follow the earth’s voyage around the sun for one complete orbit, to witness the astonishing consequences this journey has for us all.
Just as Alien was followed by Aliens, Terminator was followed by Terminator 2, William Hirst has produced a sequel to his popular science dictionary. Like all great sequels there has to be something to link it to the first publication and something different to grab your interest. William’s word games for cells has vocabulary (and therefore literacy) at its heart, in just the same way that William’s words in science did. However the format of the book is much different to before, and it designed to be used with students rather than as a reference material.
The book opens with a list of key words and a rationale for the book. William explains that he wants students to learn the meanings of key words by using them in context rather than just being words copied down from the board or on a worksheet. To this end he has created a set of activities that have key words at their core, some of them more familiar than others. There are also teaching ideas that explains when you might want to use the activities and how they fit into starters or plenaries (see example below)
Connect-a-WordThis is a smaller version of the scattershot; the difference is that connect-a-word uses the whiteboard alleviating the need to distribute paper.Pupils have to match the words to the definitions in the boxes; excessive writing by pupils is avoided by using numbers as identifiers for the words, and letters to identify the definitions.Difficulty can be increased by leaving a blank box, or by scrambling the letters of the word.
The book contains all the resources a busy teacher needs to use these ideas in class with students. There are wordsearches and crosswords of different types (a favourite of many teachers), card games, ‘circle 6′ activities, connect-a-word, fortune flippers, give us a clue games (a variation on a crossword). Other activities include ‘loop frames’, scattershots, scidoku (yes you read that right!), spell & check, trionimos and so on. There are many activities ideal for science teachers of all levels of literacy teaching capability, and answers are provided where appropriate (for those with low self-confidence!).
Examples of activity from the book
The image below shows a word step activity (there are three of these on an A4 page)
This image shows scidoku:
This is part of a trionimos activity:
Whilst some of the techniques are familiar to teachers new and old, there are many here that I haven’t come across before and this book could easily be used as a “how to teach key words” book as well as a resource for teaching cells. Many of the activities appear useful for children with special needs, although the font could do with changing if William intends to target this market.
Unfortunately a lot of purchasing decisions in education come down to cost, and William has done his best to keep costs low for the school or the individual. The book is available in two formats, a printed copy (which is available for £46) and an electronic copy (available direct from William) for a more reasonable £15. Either price represents good value for money for this 200 page resource.
I would advise purchasers to consider the range of activities and teaching ideas available in this book, it is easy to write it off at first glance as “just another book of crosswords and word searches” but it really is much more than that. At its worse this book is a wide range of literacy activities for teachers who teach cells as a topic. At its best this book contains a wealth of ideas and strategies for teaching literacy in science (vocabulary and key words) together with examples of what the activities look like in practice.
William’s book isn’t on his site yet, but interested parties should go to his site and contact him directly to ask about it (and tell him where you heard about it). For those of you who prefer dealing with Amazon I’ve linked both of William’s books below: