Updated: Saturday, 22nd February 2020 @ 5:50am

Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry bridges gap when it comes to practical science lessons

Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry bridges gap when it comes to practical science lessons

By Andrew Little

The Museum of Science and Industry is filling the gap left by schools in providing children with practical science lessons, new figures have revealed.

The museum announced last week that it has had record numbers of children attending science classes in the past year.

This follows September’s report by an influential parliamentary committee that said schools are not doing enough to provide children with a practical scientific education, to which the Department for Education are due to respond this week.

Sarah Roe, spokesman for the MOSI said: “MOSI offers a variety of practical, hands-on science sessions which are linked to Museum's own collections.

“Children are more engaged with the science because they can experience how science works in the real world and see practical applications in the Museum's galleries.”

MOSI is the Manchester centre for STEMNET (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network) – an organisation which aims to inspire young people within those fields with practical training and by providing links between schools and professional scientists.

Iain Morley, learning manager at MOSI, said: "Here at MOSI we have fantastic new science facilities and a brilliant team of Education Officers who can bring Curriculum-based science to life for both primary and secondary pupils, and show how it relates to the real world.

“We want to develop this programme over the next few years and would love to hear from more teachers who want to provide inspiring practical science education for their classes."

The report in September by the Commons Science and Technology Committee said that the lack of practical science education in secondary schools is stifling the next generation of scientists.

Andrew Miller MP, chair of the committee, said: "We heard evidence that the pressures of managing a busy curriculum, challenges in finding time for specialist continuing professional development, or time to get out of the classroom, are all factors contributing to a decline in the quality of practical science.

This is worrying. If the UK is to be confident of producing the next generation of scientists, then schools -encouraged by the government - must overcome the perceived and real barriers to providing high quality practicals, fieldwork and fieldtrips."

The committee urged the government to finalise a coherent plan which will help them achieve their goal of increasing participation in science subjects, incorporating STEM centres and in-school visits from professional scientists and science presenters.

Michael Gove, secretary of state for education, is due to respond to the committee’s report this week.