Activity Ideas For British Science Week

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Ian McDaid

Ian is a Teaching and Learning Science leader, as well as the author of 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Outstanding Science Lessons and winner of the ERA Best Secondary Resource 2016.  He was winner of the Enthuse Celebration Award 2014 for Best Secondary Science Leader...
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How will you be celebrating British Science Week?

British Science @ScienceWeekUK week runs from the 9th to the 18th of March. Schools and venues all around the country will be hosting and taking part in special events throughout the week. All the events are found on the Science Live website here.

Exploration and Discovery Activities

The theme of this year’s activity packs is Exploration and Discovery.

Here are some of my favourite activities that are easy to set up in the classroom this week.

1. International Space Station Model Making

This is extremely quick and easy to set up if you have access to some A4 or even A3 white card.  It will easily keep groups of students busy for a whole lesson and beyond.

All they need are glue, scissors and copies of the downloadable templates. I have even considered building a more permanent school model on a larger scale using a laser cutter and flexible plastic sheeting. The template, instructions and loads of ISS facts are available to download free of charge from NASA.

2. Model Solar System

This is always a good activity to do outside if the weather is good, or in the sports hall if not so good. This download link will take you to a page where you can enter your own dimensions and it will calculate all the orbit sizes and planet diameters to build a model.

Just a warning, you will need over 300m of school field if you make your sun 100mm wide! So be careful, but this shows how big the solar system really is in comparison to the size of the planets.

If you are ever in York and happen to be a keen walker of cyclist the you can explore an even bigger 6.4-mile version of a solar system. Starting near Askham Bar park and ride and following the old East Coast mainline you will encounter amazing models of the planets along the route. Full details are available here.

3. Timeline of Elemental Discovery

Always a great research activity for pupils and a great link to the reactivity series. You could provide pupils with a simple number line and a list of the elements to research, or give them more of a free reign.

4. The Oceans

The Royal Society have an excellent resource for GCSE chemists which will help them to look at the sustainability of natural resources.  It investigates the possibility of extracting resources from the ocean floor using their Future Ocean Resources Map.

5. Balloon Powered Cars

This is my favourite full day activity, great for creativity, teamwork and crammed full of science. You can introduce aerodynamics, speed, acceleration and forces to a variety of different year groups. Let the pupils run wild with their imagination and link the activity to the attempt to break the land speed record by @BLOODHOUND_SSC.

Resources for all levels

There is also the opportunity to take part in a citizen science project in partnership with The Plastic Tide charity. Here you can upload photos of plastic waste on beaches to help train an algorithm to help identify plastic waste. You can also take part in the Run To The Deep project, where you can run a virtual 10km race to the bottom of the ocean.

The organisers have put together their resource packs crammed full of activities you can quickly and easily set up in the classroom, with dedicated packs to download for early years, primary and secondary. They can all be downloaded here. My top pick from each pack by level are as follows.

Early years

Escape the Ice. This is a great, fun activity where pupils learn about state changes by investigating figures trapped in ice.  It takes a little pre-planning but it’s well worth the effort.  The activity is also sensory based and very hands on.


Ocean Grabber.  All you need is some very simple equipment including card, elastic bands and some split pins and you’re ready to go with this engaging activity.  Pupils use the template provided to make their own grabber for excavating the ocean floor.  Pupils can evaluate their creations and there is even more information available to take this further from STEM Learning UK.


Polar Explorer Food.  For this activity pupils must plan a diet for polar explorers.  What do they need to eat to provide the 3550 calories every day?  I would take this further and give them a shopping budget.

You can find more ideas at the hashtag #BSW18 and do share your photos from the classroom with us throughout the week!

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