‘Hands-on’ resources to enrich and consolidate scientific learning in schools can often be hard to obtain. Following successful pilot outreach workshops in local primary schools and pump-prime funding from NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections we developed loanable rucksack resources to support teaching and learning and the delivery of public health messages to children in a fun and appealing way.
Through collaboration with local primary school science clusters and the Primary Science Teaching Trust, workshop activities were reviewed and developed into lesson plans and appropriate hands-on resources identified. Resources and lessons were piloted, observed and evaluated in schools by teachers, Public Health England (PHE) and local council colleagues. Feedback then refined the activities to ensure they were fit-for-purpose. Colleagues at Imperial College London advised on delivery of content and evaluation methods and the accuracy and scientific content of the resources was reviewed by subject matter experts.
Two rucksack resource packs have been created: “Operation Outbreak” (Key Stage 2) and Tricky Ticks” (Key Stages 1 and 2); each containing: curriculum-based lesson plans; slide packs; child-friendly summaries; non-consumable supporting equipment and digital resources. Public health messages and information form the core of these resources; hand hygiene and disease prevention are very relevant topics in the school environment and tick awareness is a particularly important intervention in areas of high-risk of Lyme disease.
The lending of rucksacks to schools and STEM ambassadors is currently managed through local school science cluster networks and STEM ambassador loaning schemes. Digital versions of the non-physical resources are available on the tes website to extend their reach and allow them to be used independently of the physical resources. Because the lessons and activities are delivered by teachers and STEM ambassadors, their potential reach and impact of these health protection messages is wide.