Every state secondary school to be offered University of Bristol science teaching tool
Press release issued: 1 April 2010
The teaching of A-level Chemistry across the UK is set for a major boost thanks to the free provision to over 4,000 state secondary schools of a revolutionary e-learning tool. Called Chemistry LabSkills, the tool is produced by Learning Science Ltd and Bristol ChemLabS, part of the University of Bristol.
Called Chemistry LabSkills, the tool is produced by Learning Science Ltd and Bristol ChemLabS, part of the University of Bristol.
Memory sticks containing the tool are being funded by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) to support chemistry teachers and enhance practical science in the classroom. The TDA is an executive body of the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
The Royal Society of Chemistry and the Association for Science Education's national Getting Practical programme will be supporting the rollout by making a LabSkills memory stick available, on request, to every secondary state school in the UK.
The new tool meets head-on the call for more practical science in schools. It helps get students up to speed quickly with the scientific approach to enquiry and how to carry out experiments, thereby allowing teachers to fit in more practical work. And by rehearsing key practical skills in a virtual environment before lab sessions, the tool builds student confidence in the laboratory.
Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, said: "We're very proud that the excellence of Chemistry LabSkills has been recognised in this way, and that it will play such a key role in supporting and inspiring young scientists across the UK."
Annette Smith, Chief Executive of The Association for Science Education (ASE), commented: "ASE welcomes all good quality resources that support effective practical work in science and LabSkills does exactly that. Students who explore their own practical skills in a safe and constructive environment, using this, will become more confident and competent scientists in the future."
National Science Learning Centre and National STEM Director, Professor Sir John Holman, said: "Learning science without practicals is the equivalent of studying literature without books. It is important that scarce laboratory time and resources are used to the best effect: practical work needs to be carefully planned so time is used well and genuine enquiry takes place. I am impressed by Chemistry LabSkills because it helps prepare the ground so that effective practical work can take place, as well as improving students' confidence and capability."
President Elect of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Professor David Phillips, said: "In order to ensure a talented supply of chemistry students into university and beyond, we must adequately support the teaching of practical chemistry. LabSkills provides an opportunity for both students and teachers to refresh and hone their skills before laboratory sessions, thus allowing more useful and efficient practical sessions in the classroom. This unique tool will enhance practical chemistry and encourage students to engage with experimental science."
Chemistry LabSkills is the culmination of five years' research and development into the use of technology to enhance practical chemistry education by Bristol ChemLabS within the University’s School of Chemistry. It is used by schools and universities in an ever-growing number of countries including Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Jordan, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Romania, Holland, Malta, Uganda, South Africa and Canada.
In 2009, nearly 2,000 copies of LabSkills were given to trainee chemistry teachers to boost their own confidence in demonstrating practical chemistry.
LabSkills contains over 150 resources, including simulations for setting up and optimising experiments. Anyone can have a taster of LabSkills via www.labskills.co.uk.