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Independent Schools’ Inspectorate, 2010 (Girls’ Division)

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Teacher Selected to Present at European Science Education Showcase

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Boys’ Division Chemistry teacher Dr Kristy Turner has been selected as a member of the UK delegation for the Science on Stage festival in London next summer. She has been invited to create a stand for the festival, and also to give a workshop based on her work with pupils in school.

Dr Turner has come up with a new way for GCSE pupils to visualise the covalent bonding in molecules using pipe cleaners and beads.

Covalent bonds occur when pairs of electrons are shared between two atoms. Dr Turner asked her students to create models that show the covalent bonds within molecules by using the pipe cleaners as the orbits of the outer electrons of a molecule, and differently coloured beads to represent the different atoms. Where there is a covalent bond, the pipe cleaner ‘orbits’ overlap.

Using their knowledge of different molecules, pupils were then able to identify what molecules and atoms might appear in one another’s work. By looking at the number of electrons in the orbits of the atoms, they could figure out what groups these elements are in. This is a great way to visualise and understand covalent bonding.

“The bonding topic is one which is typically quite dry.  There is very little practical work and students find it difficult to visualise the processes occurring on an atomic scale.  The idea just came to me while I was looking in a craft shop for things for my young daughter to do one weekend.  The models present something kinaesthetic and visual, breaking up the topic and making it memorable for the students.  The use of modelling allows teachers to explore what students understand about covalent bonding starting with the electrons, the models can be critiqued using careful questioning, extending their knowledge beyond the specification.”

Dr Turner will present this teaching method and her pupils’ work before her peers at the Science on Stage festival.

Science on Stage is a major European conference, showcasing the best in science education from across Europe and Canada.  The theme of the Science on Stage festival is “Illuminating Science Education”, and teachers from all over Europe and Canada will be sharing experiments and teaching ideas for science, technology and mathematics at stands, in workshops and on stage. Dr Turner’s work was selected following a competitive application process, and has been judged by the UK’s National Steering Committee as one of the country’s best teaching ideas and therefore worthy for inclusion.

Biology teacher Mr Teasdale has also been invited to present his Animal Care Club at the festival.

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Dr Turner with a display of students

Dr Turner with a display of students' covalent bonds

Covalent Bonds Display