Yesterday we did our second school visit, to watch a modern science lesson in action. Shane and I realised it was a long time since we were in a secondary school science lab, so thought we’d better see how it’s changed.
Strangely, it hadn’t in lots of ways. I found the knackered old benches, manky sinks and acid-stained test-tube racks comfortingly familiar. And the big periodic table poster actually made me want one of my own at home. But then I am a science nerd. What was different, was the teacher’s use of a computer (screen shown on projector, no interactive white board) throughout the lesson.
The teacher was doing a lesson on diffusion and used the computer screen in various ways – to show an animation of how diffusion worked, to put up text she wanted the students to read and/or copy, to show images…and then, at the end, to show a trailer for Jaws.
It was a great way of varying the lesson and adding some interest, but we were wracking our brains to work out what it had to do with anything – until she put up the last set of questions, about how a shark could detect blood from far away… We definitely thought top marks to Ms Forsyth for relating the scientific idea she was discussing to something unusual and interesting. And for having the imagination to use YouTube in that way.
I suppose the great thing about apps like YouTube (and the secret of their success) is that they do a simple thing very well, and people can use them however they want. As we keep realising in e-democracy, using existing (and popular) tools effectively is often far more useful than developing highly specialised bespoke systems – there’s no need for the public sector to keep re-inventing the wheel.