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Primary Science Conference spreads ideas for high-impact science teaching

Friday 23rd June 2023

Thanks to dedicated teachers, hundreds of enthusiastic primary school children bubbling with energy visit the Science Oxford Centre each week to explore science.

So, we were pleased to dedicate a day at our centre this week to amazing teachers such as these, when we hosted the Primary Science Conference organised by the Oxfordshire and Reading Science Learning Partnership.

The annual event was held on Monday 19th of June and attracted 50 primary school teachers from Oxfordshire and Reading, who were keen to share good practices, learn from and inspire each other, and take home new, practical ideas for their classroom.

Gaining inspiration and ideas for teaching

Andrew Kensley, Science Oxford’s Head of Outreach and Training, says, “We were once again delighted to host the annual conference at the Science Oxford Centre, the UK’s first indoor-outdoor primary science education centre. As a leading provider of support to primary science teaching in our region, we’re always keen to engage with local teachers and work with them to ensure primary aged children are inspired and excited by their science lessons.”

Claire Hamnett, the region’s Science Learning Partnership Strategic Lead, says, “The primary conference provides an invaluable opportunity to learn from other teachers and from experts in their fields and to gain inspiration and ideas for teaching. In the current pressured environment of schools, this is more important than ever.”

Setting the scene for an inspiring day, Dr Jackie Bell gave a keynote talk about her dreams of becoming an astronaut, her experiences along her STEM journey, and her work with marginalised young people. She emphasised the value and importance of teachers in young people’s lives and implored teachers not to give up on young people from challenging backgrounds.

Photo of Dr Jackie Bell in gesturing in front of screen with photo of her and group of people
Dr Jackie Bell gives the keynote address at the Primary Science Conference

Practical workshops enable a purposeful learning environment

Over the remainder of the day, teachers were spoilt for choice from a large range of hands-on workshops, all which stimulated thinking and discussion, while also providing ideas for high-impact activities they could easily implement in their classroom.

Workshops presented by expert guests included: Lego Engineering; Data Logging in the Primary Curriculum; Bee Miles; and more. A surprising number of teachers enjoyed being hugged by a boa constrictor in Michael Noone’s ‘Making Space for Nature in the Classroom’ session.

Man with snake around shoulders and flashing a torchlight on scorpion in his hand
Michael Noone encourages teachers to bring nature into the classroom.

From our own Science Oxford team, Roger Baker took teachers through a ‘Science Outdoors’ workshop; Bridget Holligan guided an ‘Exploring Evolution’ workshop, and Emily Fisk shared the delights of our Exploration Zone.

“There was a real buzz in the centre throughout the conference and teachers really enjoyed the chance to network with their peers, share best practice, advice and tips, and re-ignite their enthusiasm,” says Claire. She smiles about a comment from one of the teachers: “It’s so nice to be able to talk to other primary science teachers about what we do and share ideas while we actually have time to finish our lunch for once!”

In offering feedback on the day, teachers commented on how they enjoyed the practical tools and strategies to support their teaching and that the format of practical discussions enabled a friendly and purposeful learning environment. They appreciated all the ideas for lessons and being made aware of the resources available in the area.

Continued professional development for teachers

“The conference provides an ideal opportunity to showcase some of the best resources and professional development opportunities for teachers and we really hope all those who attended left enthused and encouraged,” says Andrew.

Science Oxford supports continued professional development of teachers through various projects. To find out more about teacher CPD as well as our primary schools education programme, visit our webpage here.

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