By LOUISE THOMASON
The world of science and technology was opened up to school children this week with an exhibition at Clickimin designed to allow them to have fun while they learned.
The five-day Science and Technology Fair 2009, which began on Monday, included a visit from experts from Edinburgh Zoo and Glasgow and Dundee science centres.
There was also a host of companies that aim to make science and technology fun, such as Techfest, SCI-FUN and K-Nex Generation, as well as local exhibitors, such as the Shetland College and the Shetland Amenity Trust.
A total of 185 activities were available throughout the week to inspire and educate.
In the multi-use studio, the NAFC Marine centre gave pupils the opportunity to try their hand at sailing ships with a simulator or explore the touchy-feely tank to discover marine life.
Also in the studio, in the Cosmic Dome, the wonders of the skies were explained. Daisy Smith, five, from Lerwick, said: “The stars were my favourite, because I learnt about all the different bits of the sky.”
The main hall was home to the electronics workshop, K-Nex activities and archaeology displays. Alongside its archaeological displays, Shetland Amenity Trust used the event as an opportunity to launch its new education pack.
The pack will help teachers and children get the most out of a visit to the Old Scatness broch and Iron Age village and aims to link the site, and Shetland’s archaeological heritage, with the curriculum for excellence, promoting hands on learning and cross-curricular teaching.
Created by the trust’s archaeology unit, the pack is aimed at primary children and those in S1 and S2. It contains a booklet, Old Scatness Broch guidebook and a CD, which features examples of site visit lesson plans, from a highlights tour to a workshop on Iron Age clothes, and details the huge range of activities children can experience.
It will be distributed to all schools in Shetland and has already been successfully piloted at Baltasound Junior High, which is also featured as a case study.
A visit to the site is also a great way to back up themes already taught in schools across Shetland, such as early peoples and the Vikings. It is open throughout the summer, from Sunday to Thursday, although school visits can be arranged at any time of the year. Teachers can get more information on the pack or book a place by calling the trust on (01595) 694688 or the site itself on (01950) 461869.
Val Turner, archaeologist with the trust, said there had been a positive response from children and adults alike.
Ms Turner said: “The launch went really well. All the children enthusiastically engaged with the hands on activities and the teachers who brought classes have been incredibly positive, all taking away copies of the pack.”
Speaking before the event, project coordinator Christine Geldard said she was really pleased with the response to the fair: “The week-long programme of activities is open to all schools and partner providers and we’re delighted that almost everyone has been able to book into the event.
“I feel that it’s important to stimulate a child’s interest in science and technology from a young age and believe that this fun and hands-on set of activities is the perfect forum for sparking an interest.
“If we can inspire and motivate individuals to take an active interest in science and technology as a result of visiting the fair, then we’ll have a successful outcome.”
Although the fair was open to schools all week, on Wednesday evening parents and children were treated to a free event session to explore the exhibitions and workshops and there was a good turnout.
The Scottish Science and Technology Roadshow, SCI-FUN, was one of the exhibitors set up in the bowls hall, which was buzzing with activity.
An array of science based games, puzzles and informative boards was set up, including electronic interactive displays examining how infra-red cameras and fibre-optic communication work, musical scale tests, and a Batak wall, which put reactions to the test.
SCI-FUN roadshow manager Stuart Dunbar said the children had shown a great deal of responsibility, especially when it came to some of the more physical activities.
Mr Dunbar said: “The groups have responded really well and we’re pleased with the way the kids have worked together, they’ve really looked out for each other and taken care around activities like the spinning chair.”
Roadshow technician Mark Reynolds said the exhibition had been a great success: “It’s gone very well, we’ve hardly stopped. All the classes we’ve had in have been very good.
“The main aim is getting the kids to think about things and ask questions – we’re not asking them to rebel, obviously! But just to ask their teachers about the way things are and question science.”