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Case study: Hands-on science

Date Posted: 18/12/2014

School: Ty-Sign Primary School, Caerphilly, Gwent
KS: Foundation and KS2
Destination: Techniquest, Cardiff 

Some pupils from a Gwent school got hands-on with science at Techniquest.

Techniquest was founded in 1985 by professor John Beetlestone and his colleagues from Cardiff University. In 1988 it launched its education programme for schools and in 1995 moved to its current site, the UK’s first purpose-built science centre, in Cardiff Bay.

As an independent registered educational charity, Techniquest engages pupils with science and leaves them eager to learn more. With more than 120 interactive exhibits and Wales’ only digital planetarium, the centre has updated its school programme for 2014/15.

Caerphilly’s Ty-Sign Primary School is a keen supporter of the attraction that offers workshops, science theatre and shows, linked to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths curriculum, for Foundation Phase pupils through to post-16.

In addition to standard fees for individual school visits, Techniquest has launched an annual membership scheme, available to primary schools in Wales, which provides free visits for a one-off fee.

Science co-ordinator and Year 6 teacher Sara Griffin said: “We’ve been using Techniquest for many years at our school. Last year we joined their membership scheme which was great value for money.

All our pupils visited as part of our science week, it also meant that year groups could return whenever it suited them. There are plenty of science shows throughout the year that link in nicely with topics.”

In total, 400 hundred pupils from the school’s six Foundation Phase and eight KS2 classes visited Techniquest.

“The shows are interactive and fun and the pupils talked about the light show for weeks after,” said Sara. “As well as the shows pupils enjoy the hundreds of science activities around Techniquest. The activities are stimulating, challenging and interesting.

“Techniquest also provides schools with a science kit as part of the membership. We were able to use the light and sound kit for several days.

“We used the kit throughout KS2 to stimulate learning and provide that extra ‘interest’ in lessons. We have booked to use the maths kit this year.

“I would recommend schools to sign up to the membership. It really does provide pupils with further learning opportunities, whether it be a school trip, science show or Techniquest kit, and shows are adapted for pupils in Foundation Phase and KS2.”

A typical visit will include a science theatre show followed by time on the exhibition floor where pupils are guided by their own curiosity and are encouraged to experiment with the hands-on displays.

There is the opportunity for additional activities in the science lab and teachers are provided with pre and post-visit materials.

For older pupils there are planetarium shows tailored to KS3 and KS4, A-Level laboratory workshops and a summer season of Mathamagic, which explores practical mathematics. 

Areas can be reserved for visiting schools to have packed lunches and the cafe serves drinks and snacks.

Summing up Sara said: “Pupils thoroughly enjoy exploring Techniquest and all it has to offer.”

For more information visit www.techniquest.org.

School Travel Organiser's Guide