Issue 34

October 2009

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Group Updates cont’d

Science

On the afternoon of July 15th, fourteen members of the Science Group embarked on a trip to the National Science Learning Centre  in York and were we in for a surprise!

Met by the very attractive, efficient and enthusiastic Mrs. Miranda Stephenson, Deputy Director and former chemistry teacher, we were invited into this most impressive £11 million purpose built light and airy centre. There are teaching laboratories, a 300 seat demonstration lecture theatre, a centre containing the UK's largest collection of science teaching resources, well equipped teaching rooms and areas for relaxation plus residential accommodation. Mrs. Stephenson had a hand in the design of this building and her touch was apparent everywhere.

The reason for this investment is a growing awareness that the future prosperity of the UK will be heavily dependent on science based innovation and industry. There is a shortage of qualified scientists and some reluctance by students to enter on a course which they know will be demanding when easier options are available to them. However the employment prospects for science graduates have never been better. How could this shortage in the nation’s skills be met in the future?  The response was a joint initiative by the government, science based employers and the country’s largest charity, the Wellcome Trust, to set up the National Science Learning Centre and 9 Regional Centres at a cost of £51 million.

The aim of this vital project is to get youngsters of school age interested in and enthusiastic about science, and if you want to enthuse the learners the first step is to enthuse the teachers. They will then spread the message that science can be interesting, enjoyable and challenging!

The centre is primarily for science teachers teaching 11 to 19 years olds and primary school science teachers, science lecturers from FE colleges and science technicians.

These are only short courses from two to five days with a vast number of science subjects and teaching methods to choose from.  Mrs. Stephenson. allowed us to have a look into ongoing classes where hands-on skills were taught and creativity encouraged. Rooms full of small scientific objects were on display to invite the curious to experiment with.  We were all "having a go" - intrigued by the way they operated.

The building itself is a response to a Scientific Challenge as it is heated or cooled by water fed through an underground aquifer and has many futuristic features which we found very intriguing.

The reports back from head teachers on the effectiveness of this course are very encouraging.  Teachers have often started extracurricular Science Clubs. Many heads have sent further members of staff after their first experience. The centre started with 4000 training days per year in 2005 and now  aims to achieve 8800 in 2009.

Any initial cynicism we may have harboured was soon swept away by the atmosphere of enthusiasm and efficiency which fills the place. We eavesdropped on some of the training sessions and enjoyed a lively question and answer session with our helpful guide. We came away with a far more optimistic view of the future of the sciences in the UK.

 

Meet on third Wednesday of each month at St. Robert’s Centre at 2 p.m. All are welcome

 

Programme for Next Four Months

 

21st October              Yorkshire Butterflies and Moths – David Baker

18th November           Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome:  Physiological Effects of Chronic  Stress – Clare McKim

16th December           Discussion with DVD

20th January                Sexual Selection and Sperm  Competition related to Gammarus, a  crustacean – Katie Arundell

 

John Kendal

Sketching On Location

We have had another enjoyable year, which started with a visit to the lovely village of Bishop Monkton in October. We have tried a couple of new locations this year, which include the Castle Museum in York and the new Leeds Museum.

Two of our members allowed us to use their homes, and we went to Maureen and Chris Rush’s lovely old cottage in Birstwith, and as it was such a beautiful day, we were able to go into Maureen’s beautiful garden.

We finished the year with our annual planning meeting and lunch at the Three Horse Shoes pub in Killinghall. We have added a few more new places into our programme for the coming year, which includes a visit to Otley, and to St.Wilfred’s Church in Harrogate.

We have seven  regular members, and would welcome some more. We are a small and friendly group. We aren’t experts, but we are a self help group and Peter Kearney has joined us on two occasions and has given us some help and encouragement.

 

Jill Pullman

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