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Museums help students' view of science

09 November 2007

Feedback shows secondary students' view of science is positively influenced by attending workshops at natural history museums. The success of these activities is the focus for a conference at the Natural History Museum today.

Out-of-the-classroom learning

The Real World Science programme aims to get students learning outside the classroom, seeing how science works in the real world and inspiring them to continue their scientific studies.

Students in the Mammals Blue Whale gallery

Students in the Mammals Blue Whale gallery

Students are invited to meet scientists, attend workshops and discover the varied, interesting careers that science qualifications can offer and will hopefully encourage students to continue their scientific studies to A-level, university and science careers.

'I enjoyed the workshop very much because of the science experiment we did in the museum. I'd never realised that science could be so fun and interesting,' says a Stockwell Park School student.

Government partnership

Speaking of the invaluable role of museums, Minister of State for Culture Media and Sport, Margaret Hodge, explains, 'Real World Science is a great example of how museums can support science teaching in secondary schools.'

'This shows that the Government's partnership with our museums is contributing to the modernisation of science education.' 

'As every parent knows, most of the obstacles to getting children interested in science stem from outdated preconceptions and prejudice.  Real World Science helps to blow them away and bring science alive.'

Memorable experiences

'We work with museum scientists to design memorable experiences that will stick in students' minds when they return to school, from considering how a deep-fried mars bars can represent the earth's structure to using authentic science techniques in the lab,' says Honor Gay, is responsible for learning and education at the Natural History Museum.


'We consulted teachers and exam boards before creating the programme and we've followed their advice to make sure we support concepts that are harder to teach in the classroom, such as evolution, plate tectonics and the difference between theory and evidence.'

Scientist's enthusiam

Bob Ponchaud, former HMI (Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools) subject advisor for science, did an evaluation of the programme and says, 'The scientists' ability to communicate with students and enthuse about their subjects and professional life is possibly the most powerful influence on students' attitudes and aspirations.'

Now in its third year, the programme has reached over 17,000 secondary students. Real World Science is devised by four museums, the Natural History Museum, Manchester Museum, Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Tyne & Wear Museums.

Real World Science conference

Real World Science conference is on at the Natural History Museum, Friday 9 November, 9.30 - 16.30 and is funded by the DfES/DCMS Strategic Commissioning Education Programme.  DfES launched the Out of the Classroom manifesto at the Natural History Museum In November 2006.

Further Information

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