At Australian International School (AIS), practical science experiments are considered to be an essential part of the school’s approach to teaching the subject. On a regular basis, students are given the opportunity to don lab coats and protective goggles, and get their hands dirty, sometimes literally. Last month, we checked in with some of AIS’s Year 11 students, Chloe, Helen, Justin and Luke, to find out what performing practical science experiments was like at AIS, and to enquire on their thoughts on studying the subject as a whole.
‘I really enjoy the practical experiences because it helps me to understand more about the theory and the chemical reactions are so cool!’ shared Chloe, who had just witnessed a “Redox” reaction experiment conducted by her teacher, Mr Alexander Knight, during her chemistry class. Fellow student, Justin, echoed Chloe’s thoughts revealing that the practical experiments ‘make it easier for us to visualize what we are learning, rather than sitting down and only learning theories.’
Speaking more broadly, for some students, such experiments were felt to be unique experiences. ‘You don’t get to do this in your normal life, this is almost a once in a life time chance’ said Helen. While Luke shared, ‘You don’t get to see that anywhere else. For example, you get to see the bonds between two elements, and if the teachers teach it on the board, it’s a different feel to actually seeing it occur before your eyes.”
To gain a teacher’s perspective on the importance of practical experiments, we spoke to Mr Knight, who shared, “I strongly believe that science is primarily a practical subject and to demonstrate true understanding and appreciation of all scientific principles, we must observe the world around us and make predictions and test these predictions. The ability to gather evidence which links the physical with the theoretical is very important in student learning and understanding new concepts, and this is something that is done daily in the AIS Science Faculty.”
When asked what the students thought about studying science as a whole, the reasons shared varied considerably. Chloe revealed that, ‘Science is very interesting as you can learn a lot of theories about things in life that you didn’t even know.’ Helen shared, ‘I mainly like science because I get to know why things are certain ways.’ Whereas Justin enjoys the subject as it supports his long-term ambitions, ‘it helps me with my career, to be an engineer.’ While for Luke, he shared, ‘When I study science, I can see the world through a new perspective. It’s like when you are watching a movie, you can see the movie, but after that you may have a look at some movie analysis. This is kind of like what science is, but for real life.’
In the teaching of science, AIS is always eager to implement practical experiments and experiences in the learning process as the school fully understands the significant benefits they have. Not only do they help engage students, they also support them in obtaining skills, understanding scientific investigation processes, and developing a broader understanding of scientific concepts.
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