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Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 16:36 GMT
Science pupils want more ideas
Pupils want lessons to discuss topical scientific issues
Ethics and issues should be discussed in science - and not just equations and experiments, says a survey of pupils.

There have been concerns at the apparent declining interest in science subjects - and the survey confirms that teenagers want a different approach.

The survey, commissioned by science bodies including the Science Museum, found that youngsters want lessons to look at issues such as cloning.

A new style of science GCSE is currently being piloted in schools.

This "science in the 21st Century" GCSE, which could be extended to all schools by 2006, is intended as a way of addressing pupils' appetite for a type of science which is about the "real world".

This could mean looking at topical scientific issues, such as GM food or global warming, rather than theoretical learning, which is perceived as less attractive to youngsters.

Science for citizens

This "science for citizens" approach would appear to be in tune with the survey's findings, based on interviews with almost 1,500 teenagers and published by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta).

The current approach to science, based around the demands of GCSE exams, was accused of being boring by pupils in the survey.

This echoes the damning conclusion of a cross-party committee of MPs which last year found that the current GCSE science courses were "overloaded with factual content, contain little contemporary science and have stultifying assessment arrangements".

"Coursework is boring and pointless. Teachers and students are frustrated by the lack of flexibility," said the science and technology committee.


Janet Morrison, deputy chief executive of Nesta, says that "a great deal needs to be done urgently to reverse the findings in this review".

"What comes through loud and clear in this review is that students have an articulate voice about their learning experiences, and we, the adults should listen and learn ourselves.

"There is currently a crucial debate about scientific issues, like human stem-cell research, so if we are not engaging with young people now we will not be engaging with them in other future debates."

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04 Nov 03  |  Education
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