Posted by: gillarbuthnott | June 19, 2011

Hoorary for Science!

If you think that children aren’t interested in science or reading, you should have been shadowing me for the past few days.

On Friday, I was in Dundee, taking part in their Science and Literacy project, now in its fourth year. In the past, this has been based round Crazy Creatures, but this year a new strand to the project –  sponsored by the Society for Applied Microbiology – has involved Germ Wars. Dr Katie Blackett from the Sensation Science Centre in Dundee has been going out to  local primary schools to introduce primary 6 classes to the wonderful world of bacteria, and I got to meet them, (pupils, not bacteria), talk to them and sign their books. Their enthusiasm for the project was incredible: they’ve carried out experiments, made posters and bookmarks, even designed a game in one case. It’s clear, talking to them and hearing their questions, that they are really hooked by the idea of scientific investigation. Two of them have even asked for microscopes for their birthdays! I’ll be back on the 24th to meet the rest of the schools involved.

On Sunday I was in Melrose to take part in Borders Book Festival, talking about Life Story to an audience of 120 ranging from age 6 to about 75. DNA is a great topic to engage an audience – there are so many references to it in the news and in progammes like CSI that almost everyone is interested before I even start. I extracted some DNA on stage, and was delighted that all my instruction sheets for how to do this at home were picked up at the end of the session. There were lots of really excellent questions too, which I just about managed to answer!

Both these visits have shown me again that primary age pupils have huge enthusiasm for both science and reading. We need to get more books out there to keep their interest once we have grabbed it!

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