Jun 14 2012 by Clare Damodaran, Blairgowrie Adv
IN OCTOBER last year Coupar Angus Primary School and Blairgowrie High were invited by Professor Susan Rodrigues to become involved in a Partnership In Primary Schools science project funded by pharmaceutical company AztraZeneca.
And after the successful conclusion of the project, Professor Rodrigues returned to the school recently to hand over certificates to senior pupils Rebecca McMillan, Marc Pattullo, Chenice Wishart and Cameron White.
Professor Rodrigues, who specialises in science and health education at Northumbria University, said she was impressed at the way the pupils treated the project so realistically
“The pupils got so into their role that they all dressed in white CSI suits for the Glow meet,” she said.
Coupar Angus headteacher Margaret Cameron said it was a highly motivating project and developed into something much bigger than they originally thought it would be.
“All the pupils want to be forensic scientists now,” she said.
The project was planned to motivate pupils to learn science and become increasingly digitally literate and to help primary pupils develop informed views about transition to secondary school.
The project also planned to help P7 and S1 pupils become more engaged and enthusiastic about secondary school science. In addition it supported teachers in developing creative ways of teaching science with support from colleagues and professional scientists.
“The context of the project was Forensic Rookies, and involved children working through a crime scene investigation,” said Mrs Helen McCulloch, P7 teacher at Coupar Angus.
“Children had to use Glow [a schools’ intranet] to share findings with investigators at Blairgowrie High and also use S1’s results to come to a conclusion backed by evidence gained through robust scientific enquiry.
“Highlights of the project included a visit from a retired CID officer who explained finger printing procedures and their role in providing evidence to secure convictions. He also explained about toe prints and DNA!
“Children were then able to take their own fingerprints and find out if the common type in this group matched the general population.
“The children also enjoyed learning about the importance of securing a crime scene and the dangers of cross contamination of the scene with their own fingerprints, hair, and DNA. This led to the wearing of white CSI suits whilst investigating blood splatters, hair evidence, and footprints.”
Mrs McCulloch went on to say the children also became very interested in the video clips of ‘police interviews’ with a cleaner who worked at the crime scene, a suspect who had been seen near the crime scene, and a witness who worked near the crime scene.
At the high school several more classes became involved than was initially anticipated because of the buzz that the project created.
Through the children’s interest in solving the crime the “science” context became cross-curricular in the P7 classes. The interviews linked to work being done towards becoming a Rights Respecting School, with children forming an ‘Eric is Innocent’ campaign, supporting one of the suspects who was innocent, with posters, posts on the Glow site and letters to the chief constable about his treatment during his interview.
“Pupils also became very interested in fictional detective stories and have created their own characters who are investigating the disappearance of a member of staff!” Mrs McCulloch continued.
“Once the children had decided which one of the three suspects was guilty they had to share and justify their findings with their partner schools in the project in Shetland and West Lothian.
“This took the form of a Glow meet. Also joining the meet were Professor Sue Black’s representative at Dundee University and Professor Susan Rodrigues.”
Other issues arising from the project were the representation of positive female role models in science. There was increased confidence of non-specialist teachers in delivering stimulating science projects which really captured the children’s interest.
A key skill which the children developed was being able to identify and use facts appropriately to justify their opinions.