In every aspect of life, science is more important than ever – and schools are rising to the challenge.
Just as technology is now involved with every aspect of life, the school subjects that used to be considered the preserve of boffins and nerds are becoming much more integrated with other parts of the curriculum. And a proper grounding in theoretical and practical sciences is now essential for careers in an ever-increasing range of areas.
Schools are rising to the challenge, investing in innovative science blocks and taking new approaches to teaching these subjects, making them more approachable to the broadest range of pupils.
Nick Ellwood of Tonbridge School explains the thinking behind the school’s state-of-the-art new science centre.
Science at Tonbridge took a great leap forward this year with the opening of the Barton Science Centre, a truly ambitious development which provides a world-class environment for innovative teaching and learning.
“Science should be a creative and exploratory endeavour, not dry fact learning…”
Named after Nobel Prize-winning chemist Sir Derek Barton, a former Tonbridge pupil, the spectacular three-storey building places science and technology at the heart of school life, blending new classrooms and spacious laboratories with many architectural features from the school’s original Victorian science building. Features include an interactive periodic table, a TV wall, a beehive, thought-provoking sculptures, a roof garden, a greenhouse and three libraries.
The school’s Head of Science, Bill Burnett, describes the centre as: ‘striking, innovative and simply fun to be a part of.
‘Everything reflects our approach that science should be a creative and exploratory endeavour, not dry fact learning. Practical work is used to stimulate questions pupils want the answers to, not to confirm what they already knew beforehand.
‘Classrooms have a flexible layout, with a range of imaginative designs. There are specialist labs for optics in Physics, microscopy in Biology and fume extraction in Chemistry. Other rooms provide opportunities for independent project work.
‘The centre’s location, in the middle of the school, is significant too. Staff and students are encouraged to wander through and take notice of the presentations, experiments and other activities that happen in its shared areas. A sixth-form international science conference, an art exhibition and a ‘Mission Discovery’ educational course run by NASA astronauts all took place in recent times.
‘The Barton Science Centre will also have a wider public benefit and the school hopes it will become a regional hub for the community. It will enable the school to enhance its outreach programmes, such as the popular Science for Schools project that benefits hundreds of local primary school pupils each year, and to host more public lectures.’
‘When you walk around,’ adds Phil Deakin, Head of Physics, ‘you are more likely to see teachers and students building a Heath Robinson machine side-by-side, than you are to see a teacher lecturing at the front of a class laid out in rows.It is an extremely exciting time for science at Tonbridge.’
Tonbridge School, Tonbridge, Kent
01732 365555 tonbridge-school.co.uk
The school’s Head of Science, Bill Burnett, describes the centre as: ‘striking, innovative and simply fun to be a part of.'
Classrooms have a flexible layout, with a range of imaginative designs.
Named after Nobel Prize-winning chemist Sir Derek Barton, a former Tonbridge pupil, the spectacular building places science and technology at the heart of school life
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