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Schools Visits

We visited the following schools in Cambridge and surrounds:

  • Kings Hedges Primary, Yr 3.
  • Great and Little Shelford Primary, Yr 6.
  • Foxton Primary, Yrs 5/6.
  • Barton Primary, Yr 3/4.
  • Great Abingdon, Yr 4/5.
  • Teversham, Yr 6.
  • Colville, Yr 6.
  • Oakington, Yr 2.
  • The Grove Arbury, Yr 6.
  • Trumpington, Yr 6.

look at some of the pictures and comments from children in the primary schools we visited

more information for teachers and parents and some feedback we received from teachers.




Some comments from the pupils of Years 5/6 Foxton School after Dr Koenig’s visit with her daphnia:

  • I liked seeing them close up with the microscope - Tom
  • I found it really interesting learning how the heart beat changed when they were given caffeine - Jo
  • I found it really interesting because they were like us - with the heartbeat and everything - Andrew
  • I thought it was interesting that they moved by waving their antennae - Ben S
  • They were really funny because they head-butted their babies! Lucy
  • I liked it when I saw them have babies - Holly
  • It was really good just being able to look at them through the microscope - Alasdair
  • I liked transferring them from dish to dish. Also. I didn’t know they were see-through - Lee
  • I really liked it when we got to look at them through the microscope - Ben C
  • We liked transferring the waterfleas from the pots to the dishes ¬Jake & Callum
  • I liked it when we looked at the waterfleas in the dishes - Theo D
  • It was very interesting. I didn"t know waterfleas could be so interesting! Arianna
  • I thought it was amazing how big the baby fleas were when they came out - Sam
  • It was really interesting. I didn't know animals could be see¬through – Jenny
  • It was really cool but I think we shouid’ve done the caffeine test on the waterfleas - Jim
  • I enjoyed learning that the blood is clear when it’s a temperature they like and how, when its cold, it becomes red - Conal
  • I learnt how waterfleas poo - by sticking their gut out and flicking it!! Josh
  • I enjoyed looking at them through the magnifying glass - Beth
  • I enjoyed when we got to move them from one plate to another -Heidi
  • It was really fascinating - Jacob
  • I like it when they open their shells and their tummies come out -Matthew
  • I never knew they had so much in common with humans -Brooke
  • I liked the microscope because you got to see the fleas up close -Theo P
  • I didn"t know that they could have so many baby fleas at once. I think ours had nine! Amelia
  • I thought it was pretty cool how on the telescope it showed up on he Starboard (interactive whiteboard) - Ashley W
  • I liked the way it only has one eye - its just freaky! Harry


Information for Teachers

Dr Jenny Koenig, who is a Science and Engineering Ambassador, visited 10 different primary schools in the Cambridge and nearby area during February and March 2008.

The workshop outline is below. What actually happened varied a lot depending on responses from teachers and students.

    • A little talk with powerpoint slides introducing the workshop (5 - 10 min depending on the age group and number of questions)
    • Give the students water fleas in little beakers with plastic pasteur pipettes and get them to transfer a few fleas to a petri dish. Look closely with a magnifying glass and draw a picture of what they could see.
    • I got the microscope hooked up to the interactive whiteboard and displayed a magnified version
    • They labelled a pre-prepared diagram (there were two different versions aimed at the younger and older age groups musch like the one in

(What They Look Like

  • Children came to see the microscope in small groups (usually 3) whilst the others were doing either step 4 or 6 or both. They could ask questions, see how it worked, look more closely at the water fleas and discuss.
  • The variable bit (see below)
  • A little talk about the effects of caffeine on children (their own experiences) and then showed them a pre-prepared video of a water flea's heart beat before and after the addition of diluted coca-cola. They counted the number of heart beats in a 20-second clip and decided that the heart rate was faster after the coca-cola. I then showed some newspaper article clips of teenagers who had been hospitalised because of drinking too much caffeine (described the symptoms of palpitations, nervousness, anxiety etc see the information in (Caffeine In Cola).

The variable bit (step 6) really did vary enormously. One teacher had recently covered life cycles and wanted to have a bit of an extended discussion about that and compared what they had learned the previous week with what they had found out about water fleas. Another class had just done some work with statistics - calculating the average of a set of numbers - so we picked up on that and we talked about the variation in the counts of the heart beats over the 20 second period. A couple of schools had laptops or PC's either in the classroom or nearby and I gave them the URL's of two good websites which they could explore. Before they went on the computers we did a brainstorming to collect together some questions that they were going to find out the answers to. Then at the end we all got together to hear the answers and discuss them. In the afternoons we generally had less time than the morning sessions so a couple of groups didn't really get much of step 6.

Feedback from teachers we visited.

  • she was “just another mum” where was her white coat? will discuss more in class (note from Jenny – we had a little discussion about what the students preconceived ideas were of how scientists looked and dressed)
  • It has reminded me of the benefits of close observational work as a means of generating questions
  • I thought the idea of using water fleas was excellent. Although we’ve done pond dipping I've not used pipettes to pick up and transfer small water creatures before.
  • Using the microscope on the large screen was a fascinating way to show such small creatures. I think I will use microscopes more often with children. Maybe focus on small pond creatures more.
  • excellent presentation and it was good that you planned a practical part to the lesson. Also being able to see plans/ideas prior to the lesson was very helpful
  • Children love learning!! They learn so much by interacting with a wider group of adults, especially specialists. Yes! I really do need to make science more “hands on” and now have great new ideas for making better use of the outdoor wildlife area.
  • A fabulous, fun-filled morning with great opportunities for learning. Thanks so much.
  • It was great for making links between PSHE (drugs) and science, also adaptation and characteristics of living things.