National survey or c. 2,000 students reveals Top Ten favourite experiments | Conducting practical experiments is the most popular aspect of science learning
A survey of almost 2,000 United Learning secondary school students has revealed that their favourite aspect of science lessons is being able to conduct practical experiments. The survey was conducted by the United Learning Panel which Year 7 to 10 students across the Group were invited to participate in.
When asked why they like chemistry, 83% of students said they liked the subject because it gives them an opportunity to watch explosive reactions. 79% of students also said they like being able to conduct hands-on experiments when studying chemistry, while 76% enjoy the practical investigations in biology lessons either ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’.
Students were also asked to name their favourite science experiments. Over half (51%) of students listed the Methane Bubbles experiment in their top three experiments with a third (33%) listing it as their favourite. The experiment, which teaches students about gasses, involves methane gas being channelled into a soap solution. Bubbles then appear and grow into a column. The bubbles are put into someone’s hands and then ignited with a lit splint. The bubbles transform into a large flame which quickly disappears.
The second most popular experiment is Rainbow Fizz, which teaches students about acids, alkalis and neutralisation, with 38% of students listing this in their top three. This experiment involves a long glass tube being filled with a neutral solution of universal indicator. Hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide solution are added at opposite ends. A ‘rainbow’ of universal indicator then appears allowing students to see the transition between acids and alkalis.
The third most popular is the Flame Testing experiment in which students put a metal wire in a Bunsen flame and then watch how it changes colour revealing the different compounds which are in the metal. 36% of students put this in their top three.
The full Top Ten list is:
- Methane Bubbles
- Rainbow Fizz
- Flame Testing
- Burning Money
- Egg Drop Experiment
- Looking at Cells under a Microscope
- Building Electrical Circuits
- Animal or plant sampling
- Collapsing Can
- Choice Chambers
Other experiments which did not make it into the top ten include dissections and the Van der Graaf experiment.
The students were also asked where, outside of school, they learn about science. Nearly half (45%) said they used BBC Bitesize whilst 40% said they learn about science by talking to their parents.
Jon Coles, Group Chief Executive of United Learning, said:
“Children gain the most from subjects they love and identifying what excites and intrigues them in their science lessons is an important part of building their confidence and enthusiasm for learning.
“What is so encouraging is that the excitement of experiments – the whizzes and bangs –sparks an interest in the theory behind it. Excellent teaching is about building on this interest and turning it into a lifelong love of science.”