The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has a set of teaching resources you can use if you are getting your students to explore the topic.
They have actually split the material up into 2 lessons’ worth: one where your students familiarise themselves with various forms of biofuel, and the second which involves a role-play exercise about the impacts of biofuel production on countries around the world.
The resources contain a wealth of content such as case studies, important questions, and background science, plus helpful scaffold material for presenters, all of which you may find useful even if you don’t follow the lesson plans to the letter or don’t have time to dedicate 2 lessons to the topic.
So take a look at what is available, as you can really adapt the material to your needs.
If you are looking for a way to add a bit of ‘spice’ to the discussion, throw in some Talk Science techniques- for example, you may like to use our powerful question generator to help you come up with some great hook questions that make the topic of biofuels directly relevant to your students, or begin and conclude the discussion with a vote or a human barometer exercise to encourage your students to voice their own opinions in the debate.
Have you ever wondered how DNA evidence is used to solve crimes? What is the National DNA Database? And why should it matter to us anyway?
Explore these questions and more in our new show ‘The Great DNA Debate’, all about genetic information, how it can be used, and who should have access to it.
Socks and chromosomes go together in the Great DNA Debate show
This interactive show is designed to support your teaching of KS3 and KS4 Biology and How Science Works, including applications and implications of science. Your students are also encouraged to participate in the discussion and have their say, so it’s a great PTLS activity too (check out the video here for a taste of the show!)
Planning to take your students to the Who am I? exhibition to explore genetics, brain science, and how they make each of us unique? This show will really enhance your visit.
The Great DNA Debate is free but requires prebooking, upcoming performances are on Tuesday 8th November, at 11am and 1pm. The show is 45 minutes long.
Call our Learning Support Team on 0207 942 4777 to find out more and book your class in!
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Talk Science team with lots of exciting stuff happening. We have been on a mini UK tour working with the Museums Libraries and Archives council delivering our training course with Science ITT students and museum educators.
New resources coming soon….
We have been filming with the Science Museum in house comedy team Punk Science to create short films for you to use in the classroom. The Punk Science team bring a hilarious twist to difficult to understand science concepts and ideas while making the science crystal clear for your students. So if you have ever wondered how two men, some bungee chord and a balaclava can demonstrate the end of the universe these films will be just your cup of tea. You can get a little taster of what they’re about on our YouTube Channel.
Punk Science team
Punk Science are the minds behind the best selling children’s science book Do Try This at Home.
Do try this at Home
In addition to the films, Punk Science will also be sharing their top tips for teachers who want to ‘Punk’ their lessons. The films will start appearing on our site from July onwards.
Join us for a course
It’s very nearly summer and there has never been a better time to come and join us on our training course about running great classroom discussions. Summer term dates are as follows:
10th June - Belfast
15th June – London
17th June – Manchester
24th June – Cardiff
1st July – Norwich
6th July – London
The course is packed with practical tried and tested ideas and fits with all UK KS3 and 4 curricula. For more information or to book a place click here
The world’s biggest atom smasher is back on track.
iny particles zoom around the Large Hadron Collider's 27 km underground tunnel
The Large Hadron Collider was switched on this week and the last time we checked on their Twitter account it was all going well. The scientists will continue in their work to unravel our understanding of how the universe came into exisitence. The project has been beset by problems and delays since opening in 2008 but has been back up and running since mid March this year. This week should see the LHC running at half its potential power capacity.
The LHC has great discussion potential for the classroom, with many teachers having had plenty of questions from pupils who want to know if we are all going to be swallowed by a black hole created by it. (The answer is no, in case you were worried!) The Science Museum’s Antenna team first reported on the LHC back in 2007 and put together this handy mini site with all the back ground information you need for a discussion.
Looking for ideas to kick of the discussion? Try our handy powerful question generator activity to link the topic to what your students love talking about.
Could a single drop of your saliva tell you if you are prone to genetically inherited diseases?
Model of DNA (SSPL)
Well this could soon be a reality according to scientists at Edinburgh University. They are developing a quick and cheap swab test to analyse your DNA. the Results could tell you if you were healthly, likely to develop a disease or diagonse conditions like cystic fibrosis. You can read more about this research here
Would you take the test? Would you like to know what your future health might be?
This story is a great starter for a dicussion around DNA, gentetics and gentic inheritance. The human barometer technique would be the perfect way to measure your student’s opinion and see how they would feel about having this test done.
A trip on a Virgin Galactic sub orbital space flight next year will set you back at least $200,000 …..we can all dream! But will these trips ever be affordable and should public money be used to fund them?
A report published this week recommends that Britain invests more money in the space industry in order to take advantage of key market opportunities including space tourism.
Take advantage of the current media coverage to run a discussion lesson on space tourism.
Some ideas to get your students thinking…
How far could a space tourism trip take you?
How long will it be before we can book a hotel on the moon or holiday on Mars?
How much risk are the public willing to take? What if there was an accident?
Do you need to be as fit as an astronaut to go?
What is the carbon footprint of a trip into space?
The increasing public interest in space travel may well be of a benefit to scientists doing research by making extra funding available. However, it could also be a hindrance if there was an increase in health and safety scares linked to space exploration or if funding gets diverted away from research and invested in space tourism instead.
To get your class discussing this topic you could get groups to each research a different area and follow this with mixed group discussions using the marketplaceformat. Run a search on space tourism on the web to find multiple news articles and websites with both sides to the story.
As part of the Exploring the Universe Theme Day at the Science Museum on 17th May the Talk Science team will be running a discussion activity on Space tourism for secondary school groups. To book or for more information give our friendly bookings team a call on 020 7942 4777.
‘Would you wear second hand pants to save the Earth?’
How do you get your students interested in discussing a topic? Well one simple technique to hook them is to ask a powerful question. The Talk Science team have devised an easy way to come up with great questions that link what your students are interested in outside of the classroom with what you want them to discuss in lessons. Click here to find out how we do it and you too will find yourself asking your students great questions like :
Is your New year’s resolution to brush up your classroom discussion running skills? If so help is at hand!
The Talk Science team will be running their teacher training course at venues across the UK in 2010. We will be sharing our top tips on getting your students talking about hot science topics in our one day teachers course packed with ideas and resources to hook your students into a great science discussion (and we guarentee its more fun and less difficult than all those other resolutions to loose weight, give up chocolate, run a marathon etc.) Here’s what one teacher in York thought about the course:
‘The course gave me lots of ideas, and was delivered in a fun and interesting way. It has inspired me to run more discussion lessons in the future.’
The course takes place on the following dates:
21st January – Bristol
28th January – Edinburgh
24th February – Nottingham
18th March – Glasgow
25th March – London
27th May – Birmingham
10th June – Belfast
15th June – London
17th June – Manchester
24th June – Cardiff
1st July – Norwich
6th July – London
13th July – London
The course is free and is supported by BP as part of the Enterprising Science project. Click here to register for a course.
The Science Museum learning team will be at the ASE conference in Nottingham on the 7th, 8th and 9th january 2010.
We are delivering a number of sessions including a taster session of the Talk Science training course, and our classroom activity News+Views which lets students create Museum style displays on a contemporary science topic.
The full line up includes:
Thurs 7th Jan
1400-1600 News and Views: Create a Mini Contemporary Science Exhibition BC16 Biology B39
Don’t forget to stop by our stand F14 in the marketplace where you try out some of our free online resources, chat with our friendly staff and even get your very own CO2 bubble to carry round with you. See you there!
Top tip: Engage your students by making your discussions topical
It could be the Copenhagen conference or the Large Hadron Colider – take advantage of whatever’s happening in the news to get your students talking. On a Christmassy theme here’s a great idea generated by teachers in Newcastle on a recent Talk Science course.
Using the format of popular TV show Dragons’ Den, students work in small groups to pitch ideas on how to make Santa’s sleigh more eco-friendly – even Santa is looking for ways to reduce his carbon footprint these days!
Santa, his sleigh and a polar bear
This is a fun and easy way to look at alternative fuels and energy sources. What do you need?
Some dragons (technicians do this very well as do fellow science teachers! alternatively get your students to play the part)
Give the groups time to come up with a new way of powering Santa’s sleigh to maximise his green credentials. The add in whatever extra constraints you like – a budget limit, must generate enough power to travel round the world, does it work in the dark etc.
Each group pitches to the Dragons who can cross examine the ideas. The Dragons then decide if they want to invest or not.
For more information about role play activites click here.