Monday 18 January 2010

Baccalaureate Students Given Unique Learning Experience

Students from schools in the Forth Valley area have been learning how to engage with an audience and present their scientific findings at an interactive training day at Glasgow’s Science Centre, as part of their Science Baccalaureate course. The students also heard from Scottish meteorologist Heather Reid about the importance of effective communication in science.

The students are all studying for the Scottish Baccalaureate in Science, being delivered by Forth Valley College in partnership with a number of secondary schools in the Clackmannanshire, Stirling, Falkirk and West Lothian local authority areas. Their projects range from space exploration, carbon capture to treatments for diabetes and the manufacture of biodiesel.

The students heard why communicating science matters, how to engage with an audience and how to make the unintelligible readable. They also were given the opportunity to practice these skills through active learning. In teams they created and delivered a presentation based on one of the Science Centre’s exhibits, allowing them to explore a diverse range of more applied science communication techniques including novel approaches to science demonstrations, copy writing skills and pod casting.

As well as the training day, the students were also given a year’s membership of the Science Centre, which will help them to develop their interests further and benefit from the many resources of the centre.

The Science Baccalaureate, developed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), aims to encourage a higher level of study in the sciences in line with high profile government initiatives such as the ‘Skills Strategy for Scotland’ and ‘Curriculum for Excellence’.

The unique element of the Baccalaureate is the Interdisciplinary Project, which focuses on a self-developed research topic relating to specialist areas of interest and career aspirations, e.g. renewable energy, life sciences. Through working on the project, students will develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of subject areas and be equipped with a range of employability skills, such as effective communication.  They will also broaden their learner experience through interaction with universities, colleges, organisations and employers outwith the school environment.

In supporting today’s event, SQA Director of Qualifications Development, Dr Gill Stewart said, “SQA are delighted to support this partnership and wish all the pupils involved well in their studies for the new Science Baccalaureate. The training day at the Science Centre will provide the students with invaluable experience that will assist them in their studies and in future years of further study and employment. SQA has a key role in ensuring that training and education, which foster skills for learning, life, work and business, make science in schools and colleges more challenging, relevant and exciting. SQA is committed to promoting all aspects of science, technology, mathematics and engineering through our qualifications.”

Joanna McGillivray, Depute Head for Department of Applied Science and Computing at Forth Valley College said: “We are delighted to be one of the first Scottish Colleges to be involved in this new and innovative qualification.  We have 34 students studying the Baccalaureate with us this academic year and we’ve been thrilled with the progress so far.  Already we can see how the project element of the qualification is helping to inspire our young scientists by offering them the opportunity to develop a deeper and broader understanding of an area of interest.  It’s also been great to see such a broad range of project topics and it’s fascinating to think how these could influence scientific research in the future.

“We would also like to thank the SQA and Glasgow Science Centre for their support.  The Science Communication event has been fantastic and will be invaluable for the students as they progress with the Baccalaureate and their science careers.”

Robin Hoyle, Director of Science at Glasgow Science Centre said:  “Glasgow Science Centre provides an outstanding resource in Scotland both for what we offer visitors and in terms of our HMIE approved educational programmes so we are very pleased to work with the SQA and Forth Valley College to support this initiative.  Our mission is to inspire, challenge and engage Scotland with Science and today it has been a real pleasure to meet and work with students as they strive for their Science Baccalaureate.”

Tags: Applied science and computing, Corporate, Schools

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