We were pleased to welcome year two children from St Peter’s Infant School in Portslade who visited our science labs for ‘Electricity Day’. They arrived with their class teacher Tracy Bennett and four teaching assistants. Some of our year three BA (Hons) Science specialist students volunteered to help out on the day along with planning activities beforehand with lecturer Keith Triggs.
Seen from one of the student’s perspectives, Michael Blanchard writes:
The day began with the volunteers and lecturers from the University meeting the class at the station and then walking up towards the campus. The children were very well behaved, walking in their partners and taking in the awe-inspiring "massive" University campus.
Once inside, the efficacious learning began. The class were clearly engaged throughout and thoroughly enjoyed the activities as there were extensive amounts of playing with equipment and other 'hands-on' learning. The main improvement as a consequence of the day was the amount of improved vocabulary learned by the children and the necessity of a 'whole continuous circuit' for anything to be successful.
The children also thoroughly enjoyed the fusion of science with the picture book, which involved the senior lecturer [Keith Triggs] dressing up as Mr Grinling from the picture book ‘Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch’. I read the story out aloud to the class, with the ‘Lighthouse Keeper’ barging in half way through providing the children with a context to create their own lighthouses incorporating a working circuit; which the class all thoroughly enjoyed!
As a student volunteer and science specialist, I received useful extra experience of teaching science to a year 2 class on the often difficult topic of electricity. Being able to discuss misconceptions, scaffold and promote new learning provided me with opportunities to contextualise the pedagogical theory I have been learning while at University and provide me with the rationale behind collaborative learning. I will certainly be looking for opportunities such as this one when I have my own class; it is beneficial for everyone (be it the class teacher, the children and the University)!
The class and teacher/school themselves benefitted from being able to use equipment and expertise they would not necessarily otherwise have. The class teacher from the school commented on how well the day went from her opinion and how much she appreciated it.
With topics - electricity being one of them - which could be enhanced through external visits, I believe it is a teacher’s responsibility to look for outreach opportunities and allow children to strengthen their experiences of science through learning outside the classroom, as such opportunities provide a plethora of holistic benefits for children.
From the class teacher’s perspective:
I would like to say a huge thank you for the brilliant electricity day we spent with you recently. Your enthusiasm, planning and preparation ensured that all of my children were completely engaged in their learning. We have never before been on a school trip where the most memorable part of the day wasn't eating a packed lunch! Back in the classroom, the children have been able to demonstrate just how much they learned that day with storytelling and circuit making. We have redeveloped our role play area to have a working lighthouse, we visited Shoreham Lighthouse and our literacy is based on the Lighthouse Keeper stories. So, thanks again and hopefully we can plan another day to come up and work with you and your brilliant student teachers. It was a thoroughly inspiring day - not just for the children, but also in terms of reinvigorating my own classroom practice.
Staff from the School of Education felt that this event epitomised the true nature of partnership, with everyone involved benefitting from the shared experience. It was incredibly useful for our tutors to liaise with the school and then plan and teach alongside students. It was also an opportunity for a tutor to teach a class of children and model the pedagogy associated with the teaching and learning of primary science. This included working with children’s ideas and misconceptions, practical exploration and problem solving in a cross curricular context.