Science badges encourage students to work independently21/10/2013
From optics to meteorology: science badges inspire students to explore further.
Whether it’s ornithology or electronics that captures the interest of your science students, earning special science badges are a way for students to delve deeper into a particular field of science inquiry.
The badges, which are aimed at students between Years 7 and 10, promote student initiative without entailing extra work for their teachers. Students are encouraged to complete the work at home, within twelve months.
The tangible reward of a metal badge and certificate harks back to the proud acquisition of Girl Guide and Scout badges.
They’re administered by the Science Award Trust, along with two other types of awards: Science Activity Challenges (for Years 3–4), and Science Certificates (for Years 5–6).
Students can choose their particular badge to work towards from a possible 24, then send away for the activity sheet. There are around 47 ‘points’ per sheet, and at least 20 of these must be completed in order to earn the badge. Supervising parents are encouraged to let children get on with the work independently.
Sue Jarvis, Science Award Trust chair, answers some questions for New Zealand Science Teacher:
How did the science badge idea come about?
Someone saw a science badge scheme in Singapore, so we based our first badges on that, but since then, we have developed the scheme in our own way, in response to New Zealand teachers, students and the curriculum. After operating for about six years prior, we became a ‘trust’ in 1993.
How do you hope students will benefit from working towards the badges?
The students benefit by being able to follow their own interests. They’re encouraged to try out practical activities, often relying on help and interest from parents.
The badge activities are often utilised by science teachers as extension work. The badges, certificates, and challenges are used (they are for different age groups), especially by primary school teachers, to help them focus on the areas of the science curriculum that they have trouble with.
Many teachers order ‘class sets’ for their students. The ‘investigations’ badge is very popular, as it helps teachers and students with planning and carrying out a practical investigation, which can then lead on to other things including science fair projects.
How have the badges been received by students and teachers?
They seem to be very popular – we sold about 6000 last year and they’re going well this year, too. We also get enquiries from parents who are homeschooling their children or who simply want extra science extension work for their children.
Visit the Science Award Trust for more details about the different science schemes offered.