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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 13:01 GMT
Pupils call for ethics debate in science
science lesson
Students want to debate hot topics
Pupils say they want more chance to debate controversial topics such as cloning and genetic engineering in their school science lessons.

An online survey of 2,000 UK students aged between 16 and 19 found 68% wanted their lessons to take in topical ethical matters such as genetically-modified foods.

Over half thought such topics would also be worth introducing into the science curriculum for the under-16s.

science lesson
Over half thought GCSE tested memory more than understanding
And 60% of the students questioned through the Science Year and Science Museum websites felt smaller classes at GCSE level would improve grades in science.

Over half thought GCSE science tested the ability to memorise things, rather than understanding.

Almost half said there should be more emphasis on comprehending why things worked, rather than how.

Three quarters of the students wanted more real life practical examples to assist them in their understanding of science, with 79% saying practical and experimental work helped them to understand topics.

And 86% thought pupils should be given the choice whether or not they wanted to take part in dissection in biology.

'Valuable opinions'

"These new findings into the science curriculum are dramatic and fascinating and show those in the education community that students have clear, informed and valuable opinions," said acting head of the Science Museum Roland Jackson.

"At a time when the government is trying to improve the take-up of science courses and the recruitment of science teachers it makes sense to listen carefully to these views," he said.

The Schools Minister, Catherine Ashton, said: "This review has come at an appropriate time as we are exploring an innovative and flexible structure for GCSE science that will engage pupils in contemporary scientific issues.

"This effort reflects our commitment to meeting the needs and aspirations of all young people and raising levels of achievement."

Science Year - which runs until August - was set up to highlight the impact science has on our everyday lives and the opportunities available for young people with a science qualification.

Moral vacuum
Your views on teaching science ethics
See also:

16 Jul 01 | Education
'Moral vacuum' in science lessons
19 Apr 00 | Education
Cash boost for school science labs
18 Sep 00 | Education
Primary science 'too hard'
02 Jan 01 | Education
Scientists stuck with geek image
28 Jun 00 | Education
2001 'year of science'
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