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The Science of Skin

Skin colour matters to our students. As much as we’d like to pretend otherwise, it’s still something that plays a big role in how they define each other and how they define themselves. I’ve found that my students are fascinated by the brief discussion we have about skin colour when looking at melanin in the P2 unit of the 21st Century Science course. It’s refreshing for them to take a scientific look at the issue and it’s definitely one of the “relevant” bits of the course that actually makes an… Read more The Science of Skin

A is for Atom

This animated film from 1953 is charming. It’s an unashamedly didactic film, but done with wit and style. It contains a lot of material that students are required to learn at GCSE. In may ways, it’s better than some of the more recent films that cover this material and I feel it’s worth showing for the historical content alone (something that is often missing from modern textbook treatments). If your students can get over giggling at the 1950s narration, I think they’ll find this a really interesting and useful film… Read more A is for Atom

Life on Mars

It’s surprising how few teachers seem to have heard of the TED Talks. They are, simply, brilliant. More teachers should be “spreading the ideas” in them to their students. I’m going to try and post more videos here that are particularly suitable to the KS4 curriculum. Some of the best talks have no direct link to the curriculum but are nonetheless worth giving up 20 minutes of class time for. I treated one of my Year 10 classes to this talk by Dan Gilbert which shows how science can help… Read more Life on Mars

The Periodic Table of Videos: a great idea ruined by poor execution

The University of Nottingham’s Periodic Table of Videos is a genius idea – one that I wish I had come up with myself. I’d really like to recommend the site to teachers because short videos of those elements you can’t show in class would be incredibly useful. Unfortunately, due to the varying quality of the videos, the site fails to live up to its potential. The idea of inter-cutting footage of demonstrations with a scientist talking about the element just doesn’t work in a lot of the videos; I would… Read more The Periodic Table of Videos: a great idea ruined by poor execution

Supermagnetic beads – a new demo?

If you’re a science teacher, you’ll probably have to teach separation techniques to at least one class at some point in the year. I’m sure you’ll have taught the arts of filtering, distillation and chromatography endless times, but here’s a separation technique I’ll bet you’ve never seen – and one that will make an excellent short demonstration in class when teaching this topic: This wonderful little film was made by Dr Jim Caryl.

Free Science Videos

There has been lots written on the benefits of using video for teaching science, much of which seems to make the same couple of points animations and other forms of visualization can help get across difficult concepts such as the behaviour of particles or cells we can use videos to show experiments and demonstrations that we couldn’t otherwise do. My own view is that, where possible, we should use videos to supplement rather than replace live demonstrations. However, most science teachers will have had the horrible experience of a demonstration… Read more Free Science Videos

How should we teach Science?

I set up a couple of weeks ago to encourage people to take part in the QCA’s (poorly advertised) consultation on new criteria for GCSE Science. Thanks to a post on the Guardian Science Blog and a plug from Ben Goldacre, contributions to the site have been coming in slowly but steadily. A woman at the QCA promised “to look” at the responses I collect at… but I was given the clear impression that she would not be paying any serious attention to anything but responses to the… Read more How should we teach Science?