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Experiments and Explorations: Huili’s first Science Week

17 December 2018
Last week saw Huili’s pupils enjoy their school’s very first Science Week, an exciting exploration of not just scientific knowledge, but also the many ways in which that knowledge is applied to make the world a better, safer, healthier and more adventurous place. The theme was “A proud tradition”, taken directly from Huili’s own slogan. We chose this because our overall aim when preparing the school’s first Science Week was to start a proud tradition of giving every pupil the opportunity to understand the positive impact that science has made to the world and in shaping its future, while also giving them a taste of what it actually means to be a scientist.
In order to make the week as age-appropriate and relevant as possible, the pupils enjoyed a mixture of whole-school science activities as well as separate events. For example, grades 4 and 5 became members of a CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) team, investigating the ‘murder’ of one of their own teachers! This was designed to teach them various scientific methods and techniques in a fun way, hooking their interest while demonstrating just how widespread and varied the real-life applications of science actually are. Grade 6 pupils did exceptionally well in their very challenging role of mentoring their younger peers in grades 1-3 during the ‘Pupil Teachers’ sessions throughout the week. Grade 6 planned, prepared and then demonstrated several simple yet visually engaging experiments, such as adding sodium bicarbonate to vinegar. This was a chance for them to try their hand at teaching and directing younger pupils, who carried out the experiments for themselves under the careful supervision of grade 6. This was very important for all of the pupils involved, as they not only gained knowledge of the experiments, they have also begun to think more widely about the methodology of learning science itself. As with all of this past week’s activities, we wanted pupils to have fun, while at the same time forming a solid foundation of knowledge about the scientific principles and logical mindset they will need to be successful in all the scientific disciplines. They will need to be aware of the technical terms involved in science, its language, its methodologies and the need to develop investigative instincts. With events like Science Week, we can inspire them early on to get excited about exploring deeply every facet of this new way of thinking and learning. It was great to see so many Huili parents coming in to support Science Week. It is important for them to witness the joy of discovery experienced by their children, which leads to better learning. The grade 6 pupils also demonstrated their Science Fair to the visiting parents, who were encouraged to ask them science-based questions such as:
  • What is your hypothesis for this experiment?
  • What variables are involved?
  • Do you have a control group?
  • How are you collecting the data in a way that ensures it remains accurate?
  • What safety precautions have you taken? Have you done a risk assessment?
  • What would you do to refine the experiment and improve the accuracy of the results?
One of one Huili parents, Gordon Gu, also gave a short presentation on communication technologies, specifically 5G technology and the quantum computer. Again, this served as an ideal opportunity for the pupils to think about the impact of science on our world and perhaps even consider a science-based career. To reinforce this idea, this week grade 6 pupils revisited the ‘Cool Science Careers’ interactive computer programme we introduced at the beginning of term. This is a free science skills game where pupils select and role-play various science-related jobs, allowing them to make decisions, get feedback and understand what their daily tasks would be if they pursued such a career. On Wednesday and Thursday we held the Primary and Secondary School Science Bowl events. Pupils were split into their houses to compete in a science-themed quiz for house points and the honour of winning the Science Bowl itself! The quiz focused on the achievements and ideas of famous scientists throughout the ages, to help pupils place science in a real-world context. For grades 3-6 this was followed by the Science Talent Show, a more laid-back event that was just for fun and involved singing songs, telling jokes and performing dances, all of which were of course science themed. We were fortunate that the preparations for the upcoming school production had already put the pupils in such a theatrical mood – our timing couldn’t have been better! We believe that Science Week has helped show pupils how science is not only important for its own sake, it is also intimately connected to almost every other part of our lives. It informs the way we communicate, how we express ourselves, solve problems, find better solutions and generally try to live better lives. Most of all, we wanted them to have fun and realise that science can be very cool indeed!

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