Learners at LVS Oxford celebrated British Science Week with hands-on science activities involving chicks, computer coding and penguin counting from Monday 13th to Thursday 16th March.
Much anticipation surrounded the arrival last week of 10 eggs in their incubator with clear, visual instructions for the students to follow so they could give the eggs the best possible chance of hatching out in the classroom. The school’s webcam provided a live link to the incubator so learners could check progress from home, whilst LVS Oxford’s residential students did the temperature checks and topped up the water in the evenings and early mornings. After 24 hours, seven chicks had been born. The remaining three hatched the following night. The fact that the students achieved a 100% success rate gave them a huge sense of achievement and pride.
LVS Oxford sought to encourage students to learn about science in an interactive way and also work together and become comfortable around animals, with all the sensory challenges that brings. Students from across the school have kept a careful eye on the chicks and helped move them when the time was right from the incubator to their brooder box. Students learned practically about the various aspects of looking after animals, such as feeding, watering, daily bedding changes, and checking on their behaviour around the lamp that gives them extra warmth. When the chicks are two weeks old, they will be rehomed to a friendly farm by Living Eggs, the company who organises this fantastic hands-on science activity for schools.
Class 2 student Emma said: “It has been amazing to see how fast the chicks have grown and how lively they are now, compared to last week when they had just hatched out. I’ve loved being able to come into the classroom and hold a chick for a while, it’s really calming and they often fall asleep on my lap which is really cute.”
The LVS Oxford Science Week moved from cute and cuddly to computers and coding, using BBC micro:bits in the school’s dedicated ICT suite. Students developed their computer coding skills during workshops with Science Oxford who visited the school to introduce them to python coding techniques and saw them code to create images and words on the LED screens, and sounds and visual outputs using speakers and lights. They even made working compasses and thermometers.
Student Tom really enjoyed his first experience with a BBC micro:bit and said: “I thought computer coding would be really hard, but once I got into it and understood how it all worked I had great fun. I’m looking forward to doing more coding in ICT lessons at school.”
During British Science Week, LVS Oxford has also been encouraging students to participate in citizen science challenges such as Penguin Watch, which invites students to help scientists to examine hundreds of thousands of wildlife images from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean that have been taken over the past three years.
Head of School Louisa Allison-Bergin said: “Our British Science Week activities have really awoken the curiosity of our learners in many positive ways. Trying new things and having new experiences can be hard for young people with autism, but through careful planning and thoughtful delivery we’ve seen a huge amount of excitement and enjoyment around our special science activities this week.”
Parents and carers speak positively about the ways in which staff promote positive behaviour. One said "staff are very caring, they talk to students positively and handle things fairly"