A day like no other: filming science demonstrations with Professor Brian Cox

School experiment

Looking back on my experience regarding teaching science with Professor Brian Cox, I questioned myself about how it all started.

What seems like a long time ago now, the Royal Society contacted me, as science leader of Britannia Village Primary School, about the chance to teach a science lesson with one of the most acclaimed scientists of our times. What a fantastic opportunity!

With the all clear from my head teacher, I then worked closely with the Royal Society to formulate a lesson plan that would be suitable for my own class, and work as a filmed lesson to enable teachers with developing experience the chance to see a great lesson. As the days approached, a feeling of nervousness came in. After all, I am only used to 20 sets of eyes looking at me, not a full camera crew!

The children were feeling more excited than nervous though. Having seen Professor Cox on television and in magazines, they started asking questions about the day and why they would be using our class. After explaining a camera crew would be filming us for most of the day, the children were now extremely excited.

The morning came and I introduced myself to the camera crew who arrived promptly to set up in the morning. We set up the classroom before the children came in to make sure all the camera angles would be perfect for the recording. 8.40. The children arrived. I introduced the camera crew to the class, which led some of the children to start posing, not realising the cameras were not yet rolling.

As filming commenced, the investigation began. We filmed lots of scenarios of what could have happened in the investigation, and questioned the children, who had some fantastic ideas and showed their scientific reasoning. After a morning of filming, Brian made his entrance in the afternoon. He introduced the investigation and the children had several questions about why he was here. We then carried out the investigation one more time with Professor Cox leading the activities. He was absolutely fantastic with the children, and made the investigation fun as well as beneficial.

After the children left, we debriefed how successful the day was. Here we discussed how to initiate a successful investigation that would be appropriate for primary school children. This included identifying the resources needed and discussing further investigations that could be carried out after the learning had taken place.

I think the resources that were made from the day could provide a solid framework for a great lesson in classrooms around the country. The videos were concise and easy to understand for teachers. This will put people at ease when teaching science, and also show how to present a successful lesson. There is also a video which links this lesson to real life issues, contextualising the Science we teach in school. Overall, this was a fantastic experience, one which the children and I will not forget.

About the author

Sophie’s school was filmed taking part in an investigation on cleaning dirty water for the Royal Society’s Brian Cox school experiments resources. These resources are designed to support teachers to carry out experimental science in the classroom, and relate it to real world experiences. Each written resource is accompanied by four videos; two with extra information on how to carry out the experiment and two on how the experiment relates to the real world. These create a flexible pack, for teachers to use as many or as few as suits them.

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