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Science on Stage UK head to the hills of Wales

As a nice start to the week, Elizabeth Chambers from Science on Stage UK keeps us updated about the latest activities of our network at the UK:

"Alessio Bernardelli and Shirin Sheikh-Bahai, both UK delegates from the 2015 international festival, waved the Science on Stage UK (or Gwyddoniaeth ar lwyfan UK in the Welsh language) flag at the British Science Festival in Swansea. The festival took place between the 6 and 9 September and was the latest edition of Europe's longest-standing national event which aims to connect the public with scientists, engineers, technologists and social scientists.

The annual festival has a special evening event dedicated to STEM education, aptly named the STEM in education evening. For the first time, Science on Stage UK held a stand alongside some of the UK’s largest STEM supporters, to raise the profile of the opportunity and live application process with Welsh teachers and technicians.

Shirin, head of Science at the Harris Academy in London, and Alessio, former teacher at Croesyceiliog School, spoke about their projects, teaching ideas and also the amazing opportunity Science on Stage was for them to teachers, STEM professionals, scientists and even members of the Welsh Government.

This September will also see two articles about Science on Stage UK coming out in well respected and well read education publications. Colin and Deirdre tell their story of Science on Stage UK in the 265th edition of Education in Science, and Alessio has written about his workshop with Giovanni Pezzi from Italy back in the summer in the September edition of Classroom physics.

We are looking forward to sending our UK delegates out to more events in the UK and internationally and writing more articles in this new academic year before the festival in Hungary, to continue to highlight the amazing opportunity and benefits from engaging with Science on Stage."

From Italy to UK: Take a workshop to your country

From 23-24 June 2016 Giovanni Pezzi from Associazione per l’Insegnamento della Fisica went to UK to present his 'Smartphones in Physics Experiments' workshop at the Institute of Physics in Gloucester and at Exeter University. This workshop was presented before at the European Science on Stage festival 2015 in London. After the event Alessio Bernardelli from the British Science on Stage teacher team and Giovanni Pezzi from the Italian delegation applied for the Science on Stage programme 'Take a Workshop to your country'.

The workshop itself was a great success and the teachers attending were very excited to learn the potential of their smartphones and what their students can do with them in physics experiments. Giovanni’s starting point was that 'Kids often forget their books at home, but never their smartphones', so using smartphones to enhance their learning instead of just for social media has to be a good thing. In addition to the workshop all particpants also received the 'iStage 2' booklet, which contains further examples of effective use of handheld devices in science teaching and learning.

The ideas for practicals explored by Giovanni ranged from Mechanics to Optics, Acoustics and Thermography. Especially fascinating to the participants was the introduction of the app 'Sensor Kinetic', which allows to access the raw data from the sensors on the device. This is invaluable for developers who need accurate measurements of sensor outputs in various situations to write their apps, but its power can be harnessed by students doing physics in the classroom. Examples of ideas for this ranged from measuring g by dropping a smartphone in a polystyrene beans box to SHM experiments by hanging the phone on a spring.The teachers also looked at great accessories like the IR camera FLIR ONE and some excellent examples of how it can be used to help learners understand thermographs.

About 130 teachers of physics attended the workshops over the two days and the results were really promising, because they could go back to their schools with ideas, resources and tools they could use the very next day.

UK and the Netherlands: Teacher exchange in progress

At last summer's Science on Stage European festival in London David Teasdale from UK met Hans Mulder from the Netherlands. The teachers became friends at the event and decided to carry out a joint project together. Both teachers were interested in slime mould and thought their students could learn much about both the mould itself and the scientific method by carrying out practical experiments.

Teasdale and Mulder started working on a project together and in early February, Hans Mulder came over from the Netherlands to Bolton with the support by Science on Stage Europe. He visited the school of David Teasdale, Bolton School Boys' Division, and got to observe some lessons and learn about the way of teaching science in UK. Mulder had prepared some resources which he had brought over from the Netherlands, and used them to deliver a lesson of his own to one of the classes at Bolton School.

The resources were pieces of piping with four pieces of string running through the pipe. The piping was opaque so the students could not see inside, instead they had to try and suggest what was going on inside the pipe, based on the behaviour of the strings when they were pulled. There were nine different tubes Hans Mulder had made, each with strings which responded differently. To the British students it was a really interesting lesson and Hans Mulder kindly left the resources with Bolton School as the students loved them and wanted to use them again.

David Teasdale and Hans Mulder also used the time together to work on their joint project. They shared resources on the growing of slime mould and discussed a medium term plan for the project. Hans Mulder met with David Teasdales' technician to discuss the technical aspects of growing slime mould and saw the set up. He also met the students who are carrying out the project and discussed it with them. 

'The visit of Hans definitely accelerated the progress of our project' says David Teasdale: 'I hope to pay a return visit to his school at some point in the next academic year.'

Science on Stage UK at ASE Conference in Scotland

A Science on Stage strand running through the ASE Scotland Annual Conference at 5 March 2016 was organised by Stuart Farmer, member of the UK National sterring Committee. This began with David Featonby delivering his workshop 'What Happens Next?' to a packed room of delegates enthused by his ideas and demonstrations. Richard Spencer then followed on with his 'All Singing, All Dancing Biology' where he included his Mitosis Mamba he had everyone perform in the main hall at the Science on Stage Festival in Copenhagen in 2011.  The Science on Stage workshops concluded with a 'Best of Science on Stage' session where Catherine Dunn and Jo Matheson presented activities they had done as part of the UK delegation at the London festival in 2015 and David, Richard and Tim Browett shared ideas they had picked up in London and at previous festivals.  In addition Science on Stage had a stand, along with The Royal Society, in the conference exhibition area ensuring all delegates could find out about Science in Stage activities in the UK and beyond. The ASE Conference took place at the Robert Gordon’s College, Schoolhill, Aberdeen.

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