Students at Blackawton Primary School investigated the vision of the buff-tailed bumble-bee Bombus terrestris. Photograph: Alamy

Weekly I roam the websites of English news papers in a Word Hunt: expanding my vocabulary by searching for words that I am not familiar with.

Of course education and art are my main interests. But I also have a penchant for silly articles about lifestyle, crime, human relations, cooking etc. I learnt from reading such articles what it meant “to be on the pull,” discovered the “hemline,” every so often words pop up that are not even to be found in my Cambridge Advanced Dictionary nor, amazingly, in the Urban Dictionary, like “gazzy.”

I am not versed in science though I am fascinated by evolution and the workings of the brain. This week I came across an article which covers science and education in a most interesting way. If you are a science teacher you may be interested.

“Students in secondary school routinely produce original works of art in their art lessons, compose original pieces of music in their music lessons and write original poems, stories and plays in their English lessons. However, except perhaps at A-level, it is rare for schoolchildren to produce original scientific research in their science lessons. Instead, they carry out the same “experiments” children have been doing for decades – measuring how the resistance of a piece of wire changes with its length, “investigating” how the concentration of hydrochloric acid affects the rate of its reaction with sodium thiosulphate, and seeing what happens to the length of potato chips soaked in varying concentrations of sugar solution. These are classic school science practicals and, while they may be useful for teaching some aspects of science, it is wrong to call them “experiments” because most students know what the results will be before they do them.”

The article features an experiment done by primary school pupils, the results of which have been published in a prestigious scientific journal.

The art teacher I am learned some words from the realm of chemistry.


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