John recently completed a PGCE in Secondary Science Education at the University of Bristol. Prior to the PGCE, he worked as a data analyst for five years in a variety of sectors, including finance, clinical trials and marketing. He will be teaching Mathematics and Physics at St Brendan’s Sixth Form College from September. 

“Scannable technology provides a wealth of opportunities to enhance existing teaching methods. Plickers is an example of this which allows real-time formative assessment data to be collected in the classroom. Aurasma can be used to bring augmented reality into science lessons. This could be used to provide additional information on practical procedures during lab without having to produce large amounts printed material. Mayfly Sound helps students to enhance physical notebooks by linking their own sound recordings to their notes or text books using QR stickers. Using these, and other apps, scannable technology helps teachers and students work in different ways both inside and outside the classroom. 

Quiz technology like Kahoot and Socrative is becoming increasingly popular in schools. With some schools introducing bans on mobile phones it is important to have alternatives to run quick formative assessment tasks in the classroom. Plickers provides an elegant solution to this. 

 Instructions for practical experiments run the risk of acting like recipes. Through following the instructions students can produce the correct result without understanding why they have followed these procedures. Some of the detail given on worksheets could be reduced and accessed instead through apps like Aurasma. This approach could help stretch more able students who could try to complete the experiments without accessing the information. At the same time less able students could access the additional material to help scaffold their practical work. 

 In spite of the ongoing advancements in ICT, physical notebooks are still used in almost every classroom. Mayfly Sound showcases an approach which could be used to help bridge a gap between physical notebooks and the more multimedia world of computers. Students can record sound files to give additional information about topics in their own words. This could be useful to students with dyslexia or other processing difficulties.  

 The new curriculum has added more content which means time is even more precious for teachers and students. For technology to be used repeatedly it needs to be effective and easy to use. The time taken to set up and implement the technologies must be offset against the return on investment. 

The biggest problem in science education is the manner in which science is examined. The increased volume of content in the curriculum means that teachers have to work through material at increasing speeds to help students learn a series of facts. Teachers are increasingly turning to rote learning to prepare students for exams. While this can lead to good exam results it does not prepare students for science careers in industry or academia. Students must have time to undertake meaningful learning wherein links can be made between different topics across the sciences, and across the wider curriculum. This aim can be achieved through good quality science communication both inside and outside the classroom. Flip learning and virtual learning environments can be used to encourage students to think about ‘wicked problems’ which link together different science areas. Exams can create a fear of being ‘wrong’, classrooms must encourage a culture where open discussion is encouraged and mistakes are seen as part of the learning process.”

We’d love to hear what your favourite #edtech science tools are – tweet us @nanosimbox!