ASP supports the success of the Polar Explorer Programme

4 January 2019

It was fantastic to finish 2018 with a message from the National STEM Learning Centre at the University of York celebrating the success of their primary school Polar Explorer Programme (PEP). As part of this programme, ASP was contracted to provide Polar Ambassador support to four primary schools in Oxfordshire and Berkshire, training teachers in using the learning resources, leading workshops and organising polar science events for their pupils. 

ASP Co-ordinator, Jeremy Thomas, was able to draw on his personal experience as a scientist at the British Antarctic Survey in making these activities relevant to the primary pupils. He was also supported by other Abingdon School staff, particularly Mike Webb, who helped to deliver a workshop on deep sea technology at Botley Primary School which featured in the Oxford Mail.

The high point of the programme locally was the visit to the Amey Theatre by Doug Allen, the BBC's leading polar and underwater wildlife cameraman, who delivered two lectures to both the PEP primary schools and to a public audience. National STEM Learning summarised the initial findings of their impact survey in a message to the national team of Polar Ambassadors:

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the work you have done on the Polar Explorer Programme. Your experience, expertise and enthusiasm in supporting your schools has helped to deliver the following impact: 100% of teachers involved in the PEP agree pupil enjoyment and engagement in STEM subject lessons increased, with 68% of teachers stating this was to a great extent.

Impact survey responses show that all teachers agree engagement with the PEP led to an increase in pupils’ appreciation of the importance of STEM skills. Furthermore, 91.5% of teachers agree that engagement with the PEP led to an increase in pupil attainment in relevant STEM subjects.

Further analysis shows that 100% of teachers agree engagement with the PEP led to increases in pupils’ confidence in learning science and in scientific enquiry skills, with over half of respondents stating that this increase was to a great extent.

100% of teachers completing the impact survey agree that pupils' awareness of the importance and relevance of science to society has increased, with 94.9% agreeing that pupils’ awareness of the role that science plays in relation to helping people live with and adapt to climate change has also increased. Moreover, 91.5% of teachers agree that pupils show increased knowledge of the new Polar Research Vessel, RRS Sir David Attenborough.

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