Science Teaching Leadership Programme –
Professional development opportunities for Year 1 to 10 science teachers
Launched in January 2015, the Science Teaching Leadership Programme provides opportunities for primary schools and secondary science departments to enhance the teaching of science within school communities. The programme, funded by MBIE, is managed by the Royal Society of New Zealand and supports A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara, the Government’s national strategic plan for science in society.
To date two teachers from Hawke’s Bay are participating in the programme – Murray Gosling and Sarah Hope, both of whom are teachers at Hastings Intermediate School.
An integral part of the programme is a 6 month placement (Phase One) for participant teachers in a host organisation that uses science in a significant part of their work. This placement is vital for teachers to develop their understanding of science in action and how this links to the Nature of Science strand in the New Zealand National Curriculum. Murray completed Phase One during the first half of 2015, and Sarah is on Phase One for the second half of 2016.
Murray was hosted by the Entomology team at Plant and Food Research (PFR) in Havelock North, where he was involved in strategies to control pest populations in horticulture. Murray trialled a computer programme to count insects trapped on a sticky board – a lot quicker than a human doing the job! In June 2015, he demonstrated his work to a group of senior secondary students and teachers visiting PFR to get an insight into science-based careers.
During Phase Two of the Programme (12 – 18 months), back at school participant teachers and schools work together to improve science teaching and student learning. They also foster relationships between science organisations and school communities, so students have relevant contexts for their science learning.
In May 2016, Murray participated in a Science & Technology Camp for Year 7 and 8 students and their teachers, run by the Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society, with funding from MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund. Over the two days, Murray ran 4 workshops on the science of bridge design. Students learnt about the different structures that bridges are made from and how the weight of vehicles is distributed as they travel across the bridge. The students then designed and built their own truss bridges, using only wooden stirrers and hot melt glue. The strongest bridge survived a hanging weight of 12kg! The workshops were supported by young structural engineers from local businesses, who described the application of maths and science in their work, and brought along equipment they use in their jobs.
Sarah Hope is being hosted by the Crop Production and Pipfruit Breeding teams at Plant and Food Research (PFR). With the Crop Production team, she’ll be participating in research trials of various vegetables, including beetroot and onions. The objective of these trials is to understand how seed quality affects quality of the harvested vegetable, which is very important for improved export returns. In the Pipfruit Breeding team, Sarah will be involved in the pollination process: she’ll be hand-pollinating apples and pears to produce specific genetic crosses, with the goal of developing new varieties of fruit with improved characteristics – both for orchardists and consumers. The aim of Sarah’s placement is simple: to develop an on-going relationship with PFR, and use the leadership skills and science knowledge she develops to design enhanced science programmes for students with ‘real world’ contexts.
Applications are now open for schools wanting to begin Phase One of the programme in either term one 2017 or term 3 2017 (this start date is subject to government funding). Applications for this round will close on Thursday 8 September 2016. For details, refer: http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/teaching-learning/science-teaching-leadership-programme/