It’s always a bit hit and miss when you use free educational resources provided by big companies. Sometimes you question if the person who has provided the resources has ever set foot in a classroom or in fact ever had contact with the strange creatures that we call children. Others are pleasantly surprising and provide a great wealth of useful resources that you can dip in and out of. This is certainly the case with the BP Educational Service [www.bp.com/bpes]. As a bit of an old sceptic I thought that it would be the usual offering of a few posters but no content that I could use with my class without altering dramatically. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Flexible Science resources for all ages and stages
I work in a large mixed sex comprehensive school in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. The demographic of the school consists of students ranging from Level 5 all the way down to P-scale on entry in Year7; students come from the surrounding locality which is an area of high deprivation.
As I work with a wide range of academic abilities I want to be able to access resources that may be easily differentiated up or down dependent on the group of students being taught. At this time of year, like many in my position we are thinking about transition groups for the intake day with year 6. I thought we should try something new and used the free InvestiGATE Science resources available on the BPES website. InvestiGATE is a fantastic set of flexible resources so you can focus on a standalone session on scientific enquiry, say planning or put together a unit of work using all the key areas of scientific enquiry. I chose for the department to try out an entire investigation using the InvestiGATE resources for the students to research, carry out and evaluate a project on streamlining. All these resources are created around key topics such as materials or forces etc.
Free film clips, worksheets and powerpoints
InvestiGATE offers a selection of interactive and downloadable resources. A firm favourite with our Y6 intake students and Year 7 students were the mini film clips. Students found the two presenters in the film content very engaging and were often found to be asking each other, ‘What would Olivia and Marcello do now?’ The film content acted as a gateway for the students to start each stage of the investigative enquiry with more confidence than if they have been given a demonstration or worksheet / PowerPoint to start them off.
Once the students were working through the investigative enquiry, I was able to check their progress with the interactive quiz and worksheets (I used a combination of both with the groups dependent on the group being taught at the time).
Multiple uses for the comic strips from Y7 to Y12
With some of our Year 9 students I tried out the InvestiGATE comic strips to introduce the problem to be solved through scientific enquiry. The great added features with the comic strip work was the idea sheet on fun forces investigations and the teachers pack, an absolute god-send for the non-specialist teacher or a reminder of those great ideas we have all tried but forgotten about. As with all of the BPES resources they have easy scope to make the enquiry more or less challenging depending on the ability and age of the students involved. One of our A-level physics teacher set the Year 12 AS Physics students a task based on the comic strip on the ‘sister alarm’. The comic strip was used as an entry point for a much more challenging task for A-level students.
Students’ reaction to the Science resources
Students were asked for feedback on the use of these resources and they all were very positive about them.
‘The worksheets are great and lead us through the task’ Year 7 middle ability student
‘The comic strip helped to guide my thoughts’ Year 12 A-Level student
‘The investigations are much better than we get to do normally’ Year 9 lower ability student.
Other free Science resources from BPES
Once I had a handle on the InvestiGATE resources, I moved on to looking at the other free secondary resources on the BPES website. Like every teacher, I love a freebie resource and there they were ranging from worksheets, posters to order through to interactive quizzes. The winner for our Science department however, and our new favourite resource, is the interactive Periodic Table Challenge. This seems to be popping up all over the place as starters, fun plenaries, form-time quiz and even on a quiz night. There’s also a free Periodic Table Poster to order for your classroom.
If you don’t try anything else you must have a go at the Periodic Table Challenge – it will bring out the competitive side in even the most mild-mannered teacher!
By Sophie Brace, AST, Science, Secondary School, Stevenage