On Tuesday morning last I had a meeting with a Junior Science teacher in CBS Secondary School in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork. It was a brief meeting where I explained what my project was about. I then asked her to explain the current science set up in her school, i.e.
- what was used to teach science;
- what teaching methods were used;
- what were the benefits and disadvantages of the way science is taught in schools at the moment;
- what would she like introduced into the classroom;
- has the school participated in any science competitions in the past, e.g. BT Young Scientist
She had the following responses:
- She is a junior certificate science teacher and she said that she was delighted with the new junior cert reform in terms of science. The new junior science curriculum relates back to the students own lives, it has relevance to them. It relates to careers, industry etc. She said this was a great benefit of the new curriculum.
- One worry she had was the fact that the mandatory 28 lab experiments that students had to do before is no longer mandatory, it is at the discretion of the science teacher. She is afraid that the experimental aspect of science will be lost because of this. Teachers have a very packed curriculum to teach and she is afraid that some teachers may just ignore the experiments because the students won’t be marked on them anyway. She will however keep the experiments going as she feels they are a vital part of science learning.
- For her they are moving away from the book and Powerpoint side to teaching. She feels these tools are very outdated and are of no benefit to the student. Instead she encourages group work where the students are working together, actively doing things and she fells they learn more this way. When examining the students, she gives them a test and she uses an App to do so so she can see what question was most answered correctly, which question was the worst answered. She can see what each student scored and he can provide the student with an instant result without having to go away and correct each one individually by hand. She is trying her best to introduce this tool to other teachers across the school but she noted some are not so open to change.
- She would love to see more technology introduced into the classroom.
- On Monday in the school she said they were having their own science day. This was where students would meet with people from industry, they would also provide information about studying science in college and two companies (Blackrock Castle and another science company from Lismore) were coming in to demonstrate projects or activities they have created which promote science in a fun way. It last for 2-3 hours and it is the school’s way of promoting science. They had planned to do it for science week but the strike delayed everything for them.
- They do hope to enter BT Young scientist next year. They are currently developing projects as part of SciFest. If projects are good enough, they will enter them in the regional finals and if they get past that, they will go on to the national finals. If a project reaches the national final, they plan to enter it into the BT Young Scientist.
I also got a few minutes to talk to the TY Coordinator and she said that they are very busy in TY this year. The students are going on two weeks work experience before the Christmas break so she won’t see them again until after Christmas. Therefore she is busy trying to get the activities for after Christmas organised and these include Mini-Company and Young Social Innovators. She doesn’t want the students to be idle for any part of the year. She also coordinates the LCA Programme.
I suggested to the science teacher that I may come back in a few weeks and it in on a science class to observe what they are doing and to see what the current classroom set up was and she was very open to this.