Celebrate our diverse planet in secondary science

Celebrate our diverse planet in secondary science

26 February 2020 By Deborah Roberts - International education consultant, author and trainer

soil sampling

This year’s chosen theme for British Science Week 2020 is the diversity of our planet. We've compiled a few simple science activities surrounding the theme to help you celebrate at your secondary school.

The diversity on our planet goes beyond biodiversity to social and cultural diversity. Therefore it's only appropriate that how we learn and celebrate this is also diverse too! Here are some activities to help get you started...

How does diversity in nature affect soil and insects? 

Plants and animals have evolved to survive in extreme environments resulting in huge diversity. Why not observe insects in different areas or design and make collection vessels for insects? Use a stick to uncover the samples!

The resources that the planet provides for us demonstrates further diversity. Soil samples from local areas can be analysed, and upon investigation can show huge diversity. But when these are compared to soils further afield, the diversity is even more evident. 

How do plants and flowers show diversity? 

Plants are at the start of most food chains so they are essential to life on Earth. They also demonstrate a huge diversity in shape, size and even colour. You could collect and compare leaves or flowers and explore if the colour of the flower attracts different insects or not.

Experiment questions:

  • Use coloured trays placed strategically - are more insects attracted to one colour over another?
  • Does this correlate with the colour of any wildflowers or weeds growing in your area?
  • Observe the area where the previous soil samples have been collected, are there any plants growing there?
  • Do the constituent parts of the soil sample affect the plants growing there?
  • Is there any link in soil type to plants growing there?

What diversity can science careers offers? 

Getting students to research the jobs and careers in science and seeing the endless possibilities of subject combinations can both inspire and educate.

Try asking them to survey family and friends to find out how their jobs rely on science, in some way or another. It’s interesting for example that chemists make good lawyers and physicists make good dentists. Could students research any other interesting facts along these lines?

Challenge students with more diverse data collection 

Students could also take an experiment home to try out. This is a key method of not only collecting a wider range of data but also engaging family members in scientific investigation to help support the student.

These investigations don’t have to be complex or expensive. In fact, kitchen science means that the investigations can be repeated more as they usually rely on everyday items that can be found easily and cheaply. The more repetitions there are of an investigation, the more reliable the results. An easy example can be investigating air pollution. 

Air pollution can be detected using a vacuum cleaner hose with a paper towel covering the end. Switch the vacuum cleaner on and collect air samples and the solid particles will be collected on the paper towel filter.

Experiment questions:

  • Do the results differ after trying different areas around school or home?
  • Does the amount of air pollution change from area to area?
  • If so, can you suggest why this is the case?
  • What is it that could be polluting the air?
  • Are the causes human or natural?

Explore the diversity in living things 

Humans and animals are diverse even though we share many traits and characteristics. Test the work of other scientists. How about carrying out a survey of eye colour of people in school or in your class?

According to recent research, 79% of the world’s population has brown eyes, 10% have blue eyes, 5% hazel and 2% green. Does this data match the data collected? The data is based on averages so there will always be some anomalies. This opens up discussions about data handling in scientific enquiries. 

Go ahead and start celebrating our diverse planet! 

There are many activity ideas to choose from, and even more free resources available too. Our previous blog discusses the importance of inspiring our future generations to enjoy science and examines the diversity in and around science. The diversity of our world is a diverse subject in itself and your science week can follow any direction that you and your students wish to!

We’d love for you to get in touch and share your ideas. Tweet us via @ypoinfo using #YPOBritishScienceWeek to let us know how you’ve celebrated British Science Week 2020!

We’ll also be running a competition over on our Facebook page on Monday 9 March, with the winner being revealed on Monday 16 March. Visit our page to be in with a chance to win.

Categories: Education

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