Bishop’s Hatfield Girls give us a strong bid in microscopic detail

We were very happy to grant Bishops Hatfield Girls School a STEM minor award to purchase microscope eyepiece graticules, micrometre and liver slides and two digital cameras for microscopes.  Isabelle Fautrero-Sayer (School Development Officer) worked with Sarah Keay (Science Technician) to put together a very detailed and persuasive bid: 

They started with the project’s aims:

“Our project is the Visualisation of the Microscopic World

Its aims are:
- To aid understanding of the microscopic world by providing better, more advanced and more engaging interactive equipment
- Make information clearer, more easily accessible to all and adapt teaching to current and future social distancing measures
- Improve observational and technical skills
- Improve grades at GCSE and A-level as microscopy and histological techniques are integral parts of both the GCSE and A level Biology specifications. See notes (1), (2) further on.
- Boost interest in STEM subjects through active participation in microscopy both within the class and as extracurricular activities (such as our Science Club and STEM activity days we organise with our local feeder primary schools). “

Then they detailed the number of pupils and teachers who would benefit e.g:

“Teacher(s) trained: 20 STEM teachers + 2 or 3 trainees on placement + 2 professional technicians

There is the option to share the new equipment with the four other secondary schools in our Sixth Form consortium - Monks Walk, Stanborough, Ridgeway Academy and Onslow St Audrey's.

We also have 2 science teachers who are STEM Ambassadors that visit other secondary schools to discuss and demonstrate STEM excellence in the classroom, of which microscopy is a vital component.

The more advanced techniques will also be shared with students from our Sixth Form Consortium of 5 Secondary Schools.

To add to the above, the whole school will also benefit through our extracurricular events which 200-250 pupils attend yearly. The equipment will also benefit each year group every year over the 5+ years life of the equipment

Through our Primary Links Programme, we hold regular Key Stage 2 Science events to inspire 50-90 pupils from 4 local feeder primary schools several times a year, every year.”

Sarah and Isabelle then explained just how each element of their bid would benefit pupils’ learning:

Having a set of slides to use when we visit years 5 and 6 will allow primary pupils to see links with their curriculum (e.g. how organisms are classified and what arteries/veins look like and their relative size). These hands-on activities, led by our A level biology students, introduce primary pupils to the microscopic world and fuel their interest in the life sciences. They are also vital in the development of our STEM Sixth Formers… Acquiring several sets also means class work will not be compromised by taking the equipment out of school to visit the community.

The addition of microscope cameras would allow us to extend the primary link sessions to encompass more primary pupils e.g. both year 5 and 6 (approx 60-90 pupils) and still provide a visual and interactive STEM session.

2) Microscope camera:
By having microscope cameras available, the teachers can also project a microscope image onto the whiteboard.  This will enable students to identify what to look for, teachers to highlight key components (e.g. kupffer cells in the liver) and allow any students with visual issues to participate more in the process, making it more inclusive.

These cameras will help us accommodate larger groups when working with our Sixth Form Consortium biology students (from 4 other schools) or running regular whole school events such as British Science Week, Biology Week and our annual Science Fair.”

The bid was even linked to current events…

“We are currently working on a STEM event, suitable for all key stages, that would look at a pandemic scenario and allow students to use both biotechnology and microscopy to follow through various virus related tasks. This is designed to help pupils make sense of the last few months and all the information they have heard on the news and see how it all fits together to overcome a virus like COVID-19.

While social distancing is in place, this equipment will enable us to offer our students access to live microscopic images without compromising safety.”

Another strength of the bid was they explained the more specialist equipment to better extol its virtues:

“3) Eyepiece graticules and slide micrometres:
These allow students to calibrate the microscopes in order to calculate image size. This is a requirement for A-level and having only one per A level group delays teaching and learning time whilst students wait for the microscope and graticules to become available. By having more, it also means there is scope for this skill to be opened up to other year groups, enabling extension practical work at e.g. GCSE, to be carried out.”