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Why science matters: Getting students excited about chemistry and beyond

09/02/2021 Anthony

Science is one of the key pillars of education around the world, yet in the United Kingdom we are facing not only a shortage of scientifically-literate primary school teachers, but also a lack of dedicated teaching time. This has led Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman to express a concern about science being squeezed out of primary school curriculums. While the focus on science in schools appears to be diminishing, its dominance in everyday life – particularly future careers – is only accelerating.

By 2030, it’s expected that 1.5 million people will be classified as under-skilled in one STEM workplace skill. This, coupled with the falling grades falling grades in GCSE science, paints a clear picture that more needs to be done to inspire students to engage with the subject. For science teachers at all levels, the opportunity couldn’t be clearer.

Science teacher getting students excited about chemistry

Every child should have a background in science

While not every pupil will be a budding Isaac Newton or Marie Curie, they should all have, at the very least, a solid understanding of basic scientific principles. While it can be difficult for children to grasp, science is all around them – from the transport they take into school in the morning to the trees that produce oxygen for them to breathe – and can give them the skills to ask questions, collect information and solve problems. Applying science practically in this way, and engaging students with the science that is around them is a top teaching technique for biology teachers.

Keeping pace with the digital transformation

Professor John Baruch, director of the Leeds Beckett University Centre for Education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, says that science is at risk of being left behind in primary schools, despite it being the backbone of new technologies - such as robotics and AI - that will play an integral role in societies of the future. PwC revealed that by the mid-2030s, around 30% of jobs are likely to become automated.

Professor Baruch is, therefore, insistent that British education should be science-based in order for children to prosper in the future, providing hands-on experience with materials and models as well as an understanding of the practical sciences of biology, chemistry and physics. As a fundamental pillar of innovation, human advancement and global competitiveness, science helps the world to advance – and helps children learn to question the world around them.

Make a difference in your teaching

Students with good teachers can make progress twice as fast as those without, according to Wellcome, yet many primary school teachers have ‘inadequate’ knowledge of basic science, as says IVF pioneer Lord Winston. So how can you improve your science teaching skills and better engage your students?

Practicals

One of the best ways to get pupils to connect with science is by incorporating practical, hands-on activities into your lesson plans. Practical lesson ideas can include classic chemical reaction demonstrations, or activities such as egg in a bottle (which demonstrates pressure) and generating electricity with a comb and lightbulb. Anything that pupils can try out themselves – and can be linked to a theoretical science learning – will help them to understand more about this subject and prepare them for mock exams.

Incorporate technology

Research shows 87% of parents believe their children would be more engaged with science lessons if teaching used the most advanced technology, and while hi-tech products and software may not be available in all schools, teachers should look for ways to incorporate technology in their science lessons.

The value of digital tools in science classes goes beyond helping students visualise complex processes; it also adds an element of role play and gives students an insight into the exciting work that scientists do. Augmented and virtual reality can be one cost-effective way of doing this, with some programmes accessible through mobile apps and low-cost headsets. Try Anatomy 4D, AR Cell and Science AR to get you started.

Rediscover your passion for science

Finally, it’s essential that you are enthusiastic about and committed to bringing science to life for pupils. Wellcome research shows this has a direct impact on how engaged pupils are in science lessons. Develop your understanding by searching the STEM Learning to find specially curated resources for both primary and secondary science. This includes everything from booklets, PowerPoints and videos that are useful for supplementing your own learning and taking your lesson planning to the next level. Professional development courses, such as Teaching Personnel’s CPD Academy or SKE courses, can also help you strengthen your specialist subject knowledge and overall teaching abilities.

Find your next science teacher opportunity

Are you ready to put these teaching practices into action? Whether you’re looking for a primary teacher or secondary teacher job, we could have the perfect opportunity to help progress your career. Take a look at our science teacher jobs and start your application.

Teaching Personnel has been partnering with UK schools since 1996, helping to match the right candidate to the right classroom. We're the UK's leading education recruitment agency, but we do more than help candidates find their next teaching job. Candidate care is a huge priority for us, and we'll do everything that we can to make your job search as easy as possible, like helping you understand how to renew your DBS check. If you’d like to hear more about our service, get in touch

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