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Science Trip for KS3

9 February 2018 (by Northern House School (Wokingham))

A great day to nurture exploration , creativity and imagination in out of classroom KS3 science learning at Reading University.

Taking students out of the classroom is like unclipping their wings. Suddenly their minds are free to explore and they often end up with some very creative results. The Reading University's Tropical Biodiversity glasshouse, called the Herbarium was the best place for KS 3 science students to learn about some rear plant species found all over the world. The tour given by Dr Alastair Culham was based around independent learning and encouraged the students to immerse themselves more in the material by using all their senses; smelling, touching, tasting and looking at the plants and also a listening activity. It was fun watching the students turning into explorers and giving them an opportunity to practice their investigative skills. The collection included over 300,000 specimens brought from Africa , America , Asia and Europe. The small peri winkle plant caught our attention because of it’s valuable properties. It is used to treat leukaemia. There were endless questions about the Mexican moss, pitcher plant, coffee plant , ferns etc . Dr Alastair Culham praised ks3 students for their questions and excellent behaviour. On our way back to the Biology Department we very lucky to see some tropical plants used for genetic engineering projects. From flora we moved to fauna and popped in the famous Cole Museum which supports the teaching of Zoology to undergraduate students at Reading University. With hundreds of specimens of great zoological significance , it demonstrates the rich diversity of the Animal Kingdom. At the entrance , we were greeted by the huge skeleton of an Indian elephant that used to be an ex- circus performer from Liverpool and was acquired by Professor Cole in 1921 at a price of £42. The 5 meters long Reticulated Python with over 400 vertebrae was very impressive. It,s one of the largest snakes in the world and lives in the jungle of Southeast Asia. Hanging from the ceiling was the skeleton of a killer Whale and some giant spider crabs. Not to mention the beautiful vertebrates / invertebrates collection including primates , dinosaurs and sea sponges. No wonder that the Cole Museum has the status of the most important and completed U.K. museums of comparative anatomy. Our students enjoyed seeing the whole animal kingdom under one roof. Their excitement and enthusiasm put a big smile on their face. The learning objective of inspiring them to learn more about animals and plants in the out of the classroom learning activities was achieved.As a bonus for good behaviour and attitude towards learning DR. Elizabeth Farquhar allowed us to visit the small Botanical garden and the Greek History Museum.