Seven workshops in two days – Xperimania Science Ambassadors in Birmingham, UK

Altogether 150 students took part in the Xperimania chemistry and physics workshops during the Science Ambassadors’ visit to Birmingham, UK, on 29-30 March 2010. Despite the typical English rainy weather, the mood in the classrooms was full of excitement and enthusiasm.

In the third stop of their tour, the Xperimania Ambassadors had the pleasure of conducting seven workshops in three schools: Highters Heath Community School, Bartley Green School and St. Francis Primary School. The respective teachers, Hazel Colgan, Khatma Bibi and Clementine Epps, who had made the applications for the Xperimania Science Ambassadors visits for the three schools, welcomed the ambassadors to their two-day stay in Birmingham.

This time the age of the students varied a lot: five of the workshops were held in primary schools with students aged 9-11 and two workshops in a secondary school with students aged 14-16. This made the experience very interesting for the ambassadors, as they had to adapt the workshops to the different age groups.

At the beginning of the workshops, students had mixed opinions about science. The younger the students, the more they associated chemistry with explosions. Students connected science with playing with liquids, substances and test tubes. When they were asked about jobs related to chemistry, they mentioned factories, mines, oil rigs, car engineering and laboratories.

During the workshops the students learned that science is everywhere. Chemistry and physics help to explain the way the world works: why different materials react differently and how everything around us interacts. With the older students the ambassadors went a step further by showing how to extend the exercises into more practical experiments involving numerical data.

In the end the ambassadors pointed out that although the workshops were about playing with science and having fun, they actually followed a real scientific method by creating hypotheses and finding answers to the why-questions.

The ambassadors were thrilled to see that all the students were enthusiastic about carrying out the experiments. Both age groups enjoyed them and in the end the students said that now they have a different view of science.

“The children had a fantastic time and talked very enthusiastically about the science they did during the workshops,” said one of the local teachers. “The pupils and staff thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”

A video, to be available on www.xperimania.net in May, will give a good idea of the content of the workshops including the involvement of the students and their eagerness to really get their hands on the experiments.

Highters Heath Community School, Teacher: Hazel Colgan

Bartley Green Schoo, Teacher: Khatma Bibi

St. Francis Primary School, Teacher: Clementine Epps