Scientists in Schools

Starting off with a bang

  • Maree Clark, Wynnum West State School, Queensland
  • Sarah Mathews, Queensland University of Technology

The timing was right for a big bang to get this partnership off and running. Sarah Mathews and Maree Clark were paired up a few weeks before National Science Week in 2007, so decided to create some spectacular science for the whole school as their first Scientists in Schools activity.

Sarah, whose three children attend the school, has been helping out with experiments during National Science Week on an informal basis for some time. They started their formal Scientists in Schools partnership with WOW-factor demonstrations as a special science treat for all year levels.

The demonstrations were chosen to link with the students’ curriculum learning: Year 1 students watched and joined in with fun experiments related to colours and plants, Year 4/5 used dry ice to investigate the different states of matter, and Year 6/7 explored DNA and extraction techniques.

From this exciting beginning, Sarah and Maree are meeting regularly to develop a series of science projects for the Year 4/5 class that the students can complete as open investigations. These lead to mini-units (3-4 weeks each) with Sarah attending once a week to help the students with their work. The learning is linked to the curriculum, with a focus on both science content and scientific methodology.

Sarah is also getting involved with the other year levels by providing a science quiz each term to stimulate students’ and teachers’ enthusiasm for science.

Both partners are working hard to develop students’ interest in science in order that they continue science subjects in high school.

Update! Sarah has "jumped ship" to become a teacher herself. She's no longer working in this partnership with Maree, but might soon apply to have her own scientist through Scientists in Schools.