Biology: The Importance of Practical Science
At Bede’s, we follow the Pearson Edexcel A Level Biology course, which involves a fantastic amount of practical, hands-on biology.
As any science teacher knows, hands-on experiments offer innumerable ways to enhance a student’s learning, and over the duration of our two year A Level course there are 18 assessed practicals in which the students must demonstrate mastery of certain skills.
In addition to these, our lessons are planned to incorporate as much experiential learning as possible. We more or less look for any excuse!
With the course divided into two halves, we get going with the assessed practicals straightaway with material designed to pique interest and promote a love for biology. Last week for example, in the topic “Lifestyle, Health and Risk”, the students were learning about the structure and function of the heart.
Of course, there is no better way to understand this most essential of organs than through dissection!
Having located the key structures within the heart itself, such as the chambers, the valves and the major blood vessels, the students were asked to draw diagrams of the tricuspid and semi-lunar valves.
This was more challenging to them than the dissection itself – scientists tend to make poor artists – but creating diagrams is a key skill they will need should they go on to university to study a biology-related degree: I can remember spending hours with my head in a microscope, drawing cells in histology!
Without doubt, this was a lesson which had them gripped, and I hope that we may have just started a few of them on the road to a budding career in medicine.