PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Bringing Cutting Edge Science to the Classroom

Victoria Pearson  

As part of UK Research Council's School-University Partnership Initiative[1] and their 'Bringing Cutting Edge Science to the Classroom' scheme, we have trialled the use of 'Labcasts': interactive, live web broadcasts from The Open University (OU) research labs to students at Denbigh School[2]. The objectives were: (i) provide students 'access' to an authentic laboratory/researcher without impacting on the school timetable, (ii) engage students with 'cutting edge' research via the curriculum, and (iii) provide a development activity for the teacher and researcher. The development, design, delivery and evaluation of the Labcast was a collaborative venture between The OU and Denbigh School. At the time of the Labcast, the Rosetta probe's Philae lander was broadcasting data from the surface of a comet to Earth. A member of the Ptolemy instrument team agreed to develop the Labcast in collaboration with a Physics teacher; the labcast was delivered from the Ptolemy lab. The Labcast incorporated passive elements, e.g. presenting to camera, interview style dialogue, and the use of video clips; and interactive elements, e.g. a lab experiment mirrored in the school, a maths workshop, and a problem solving activity concerning Philae's landing site. The Labcast was videoed by a team of three people, who produced a high-definition video stream broadcast via FaceTime to a mixed ability A-level (aged 16/17) Physics class (25 students) and teachers in the school. Third-party videos were also mixed into the stream. A webcam relayed a view of the classroom back to the lab and students/presenters interacted using the two-way video call. This paper will present details on the Labcast format, outcomes of its evaluation against the objectives set, and present outline future directions for the Labcast model. References 1. Select http://www.open.ac.uk/engaging-opportunities for the 'Engaging opportunities' website. 2. Select http://weblab.open.ac.uk/labcasts for more information on the OU's Labcast project for adult learners.

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