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Kim Haynes, science co-ordinator, formerly at Lingwood Primary School, Norfolk

3 weeks ago

‘My confidence in teaching science has grown; I no longer fear pushing the children, or worrying they will question my understanding.’

Kim Haynes, a teacher with 20 years primary school experience, was part of the pilot scheme that helped shape the launch of Empiribox. Here she explains the impact that Empiribox had on her and her classroom.

Empiribox is an innovative and inspiring new approach to teaching and learning science in primary schools, which has been launched in the UK. It provides teachers with access to all the equipment they need.

“Our initial reaction to the scheme was very positive. Dan (Sullivan, the creator of Empiribox) was very enthusiastic about his ambition to improve the quality of science in primary schools.

“Science is an exciting subject but is often taught by teachers with little science knowledge like myself. Science also requires a lot of equipment for all children to be involved in practical activities.

“The concept of supplying full lesson plans, all the equipment and training provided a fantastic opportunity we wanted to be part of. Dan also introduced some outstanding “wow” moments to excite the children and challenge their thinking.

“The training explained the scientific concepts behind each lesson and the material excited me and the other staff in the training session: we were ‘wowed’ and so couldn’t wait to see the children’s reactions.

“The children were interested in all the equipment that arrived. Safety glasses, risk assessments, and full lesson plans with explanations meant the lessons could happen with confidence. Enough equipment arrived for all children to work in pairs and not large groups.

“A good example was the number of foot pumps supplied for the bottle rockets. Usually we would have one or two, so children would have to stand around watching and waiting for their turn. Dan supplied 10, more than we could store in school for when the topic would be repeated.

“Girls and boys were fully engaged and our science lessons came alive.’

“We noticed the children’s scientific language improving, their independence in gathering and sorting equipment, their confidence in talking about the concepts they are learning; and they were eventually working at a much higher level of scientific understanding.

“Both girls and boys were fully engaged and our science lessons came alive. On visiting the local High School, the children felt confident and excited, both about their existing knowledge, and what they may learn in the future.

“During our time using the scheme we had lots of visitors looking to see how effective it was. The children seized these moments as opportunities to rise to the challenge, impress the adults with their understanding, wowing them with their use of equipment and language and understanding of concepts; about which sometimes the adults were unsure.

“At a practical level, the scheme offers all resources, planning and support needed to teach high quality science; the work has been done for us. My confidence in teaching science has grown; I no longer fear pushing the children, or worrying they will question my understanding.

“The scheme explains everything clearly and takes the adults’ understanding to another level. It also relit my passion for teaching the subject – new equipment, new concepts, new challenges, it was such a fantastic opportunity.

“But most importantly, watching the children taking ownership of their learning has given me some of those special moments, when all the hard work disappears and you’re left with ‘Yes, this is why I do this job’ moments.

“As for the future? I’d like to see it extended to Key Stage 1 and I hope many schools take the opportunity to use the scheme.”

Kim Haynes, who does not have a science background, has over 20 years of teaching experience and most recently was the science and maths co-ordinator at a primary school in Norfolk

“Watching the children taking ownership of their learning has given me some of those special moments, when all the hard work disappears and you’re left with ‘Yes, this is why I do this job’ moments.”