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Ideas for ESB Science Blast
Incorporating an ESB Science Blast investigation into your classwork is easy and fun. You are already doing work with your class that can be adapted without too much effort. You don’t need to do very much extra to incorporate an ESB Science Blast investigation into your classwork, but your class will get a huge amount out of participation.
The work can be completed over a few weeks, dipping in and out when suits. This allows you time to examine investigations that may take longer to show results. Alternatively there are some short investigations that can almost be completed in a few days, if you think that this will suit your class better.
Our framework planner is here to guide you once you have a spark of an idea. This planner will help you embed the 4Cs of STEM education: Critical thinking, Collaboration, Creativity and Communication skills, into any investigation that you come up with.
All you need is a question. This question can be as simple or as challenging as you would like it to be.
Here are some ideas of areas that could be useful to think about:
Online Resources, Active Schools, Green Schools, Local surroundings
Don't know where to start? Look at what other schools were doing, (there’s plenty of examples on social media), and turn that into a question. Your investigation can be something that you spread out over a few weeks incorporating into different aspects of the curriculum as you go.
Shy of inspiration? Take a look below:
The Discover Primary Science and Maths programme is run by Science Foundation Ireland and is a great place to start. It has lots of resources for teachers – many of which can be easily turned into a question for ESB Science Blast.
Simple questions often make great investigations. Some we spotted during Science Week 2018 include: how do flour, eggs and sugar make cake? What do plants need to grow? What's the best way to make slime? What happens to eggs when soaked in different liquids? What’s the best home-made window cleaner?
Science on Stage Ireland has some great ideas for adapting to the classroom, with a range from the simple to the more challenging.
The institute of physics has a list of experiments that can be quickly be formed into question. Their cartoon characters can be helpful too.
While the language can be a bit heavy in SAILS Inquiry and Assessment Units once you get over that the project examples they give can often be quite straight-forward, but they have a lot of depth to them.
And while you’re probably familiar with Professional Development Service for Teachers, there are lots of good resources here that can be utilised and are perfect to get going with.
We think science should be for life. Make ESB Science Blast part of your learning plan for 2019.
Active school flag:
Many classrooms are already engaged in the active schools flag programme. Why not combine this activity with a science project? You don’t need to be involved in active schools to do this. If your class plays sport or just enjoys exercise, you will have plenty of scope to create an active investigation. You are already doing the exercise, why not learn a bit more?
There are loads of great investigations to do in this area, such as: does practice make you better at physical activities? Does exercise effect your lung capacity? Does it make a happier classroom? Does it make you healthier? Does it improve concentration? Does the equipment you use really matter? Does exercise improve memory? And many more.
Let’s examine one in a little more detail as an example: What effect does exercise have on your heart rate?
Where do you begin? By asking questions.
Start off by seeing what the class knows about heart rates and what might affect their own heart-rate? What do they think exercise might do to it? Get them to predict. Every prediction is valid at this point.
Measure it. Get everyone to measure their resting heart rates and other people’s in the class. Maybe do this after a relaxing lesson and a number of different times over a fortnight or more. It won’t take long, especially as they get good at it and might be a good way to move between lessons.
Record the results each time so get an average for each person. Make sure to include yourself in the investigation!
Now measure heart-rates after your exercise. Do it a few times over a fortnight or more to get an average for each person. Perhaps do it after different exercises to see if that makes a measurable difference?
Plot your results on graphs. Examine it individually and as a class. And you can stop there if you like.
However, you may like to explore the why behind the results. Why does the rate increase? What’s the heart doing? Why is that necessary?
And if the class wants to, there are many different avenues for further exploration. In what other scenarios does the heart rate increase? What’s the difference between adult and child heart rates? Why?
Each year we have a really strong showing on questions on the environment, from plastics, to climate change, to energy use. In fact all of the Green Schools themes crop up each year. Combining Green Schools work with an ESB Science Blast investigation is a really smart way to cover both and potentially delve deeper into the topic from a scientific perspective.
There are so many good resources that could easily be turned in to a testable question on the Green Schools Ireland resource page that there really is no need to mention any other resources out there.
And remember to speak to the class about your previous Green School initiative. They often have great questions and ideas having completed a project, which could be adapted or re-purposed into an ESB Science Blast question.
There is possibly no better inspiration for a class project than the immediate school environment and its surroundings. These are often some of the most interesting and engaging investigations, as each child knows their locality intimately and nearly all of them have something to add from the very beginning.
So what kind of questions are we talking about? That all depends on where you are. Schools by the sea have lots of opportunity to investigate what’s in local rock pools? What’s the best design for a raft? How does the tide work?
Rural schools have science all around them in farms and forestry, with any number of questions about rate of grass growing, bio-diversity in hedges, role of earth-worms, soil type, role of trees, etc.
And pretty much every school can examine how do street lights know when to come on? Are traffic calming measures outside our school effective? How clean is our local river? How diverse is our local bird life? How strong is our local bridge?
And this is just scratching the surface. Each year we are amazed at locally-sourced topics, which are often really well investigated using just simple methods of observing, recording, measuring, comparing and analysing.
Remember, our planning framework can help you navigate your way through your class investigation and our team is always available to help with whatever question you may have.