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New Science programme a big hit

Regulus // Issue 1 // May 2023

More news for Preparatory School

Teacher, Christina Fitzgerald with Leona Smart, Alice Williams and Jack Blyde (all Year 5).

The new Practical Science programme introduced for students in Years 4–8 has proved so popular, that students are asking to spend some of their spare time in the freshly kitted out Science laboratory, says teacher, Christina Fitzgerald, who is running and teaching the programme in the Preparatory School three days a week. “The students really look forward to their weekly 40-minute hands-on session and many of them don’t want to leave once it’s finished. It’s wonderful to see the delight on their faces.”

Christina says Principal of Preparatory School, Jonathan Bierwirth, has given full support to the new Practical Science lessons, to enhance and support the delivery of the existing Science programme already in place in the Preparatory School. “The logistics involved for homeroom teachers to deliver practical sessions themselves is tricky, as the set up and pack up of the lessons can be prohibitive. A great addition to the programme is that the teachers work alongside me as we deliver the lessons to their students. The teachers love observing and interacting with their students in the laboratory. Having the homeroom teacher present has also meant the science concepts are being discussed and reflected upon back in their own classrooms.”

Christina has taught for many years at St Andrew’s, predominately as a Year 8 homeroom teacher. She is highly passionate about her new role and has put a lot of effort into making the laboratory an exciting, welcoming space. The room is brightened with plants, artwork and posters on the walls, cuttings and microgreens growing in small pots, and scientific models on display. The well-resourced laboratory has 35 microscopes, including modern electric microscopes and some ‘super-power’ older models, donated by the University of Canterbury. A fume cupboard provides safe fume management control when the children are observing more challenging experiments.

Year 4–6 students have been focusing on scientific method and design, and the concept of fair testing to develop controlled experiments. “This term has seen the students learning a lot of new practical Science skills, including how to use the equipment in the laboratory. As we progress further into the year, these wide-ranging skills will be applied in various contexts as they start to ask their own experimental questions and design their own experiments.”

Submerging Gummy Bears into different liquids to test their absorption/osmosis rate was an experiment enjoyed by the Year 5 students in Term 1. Submerging Gummy Bears into different liquids to test their absorption/osmosis rate was an experiment enjoyed by the Year 5 students in Term 1. “The students asked an experimental question, hypothesised, designed their test with variables, constants, and a control, followed procedure, gathered and analysed data, and then came to a scientific conclusion, all the elements of scientific method. “The only thing they didn’t get to do was eat the Gummy Bears,” says Christina. 

Many students have told Christina they have found their niche in the Science laboratory, which bodes well for their future progression in Science, she says. “I am thankful to be working closely with Secondary School Head of Science, Brent Cummack, to ensure we are helping students to progressively develop their Science skills and have an understanding of key concepts in the Science curriculum. One of my goals is to instil a love of Practical Science in the students, and to encourage them to see this as a pathway for learning throughout their secondary schooling, and even into careers beyond school.”

Newly implemented Practical Science programme for Years 4–8 students has sparked a love for science.