THE NEW £1m Science Centre currently under construction at Kilgraston will be handed over to the school by the contractors on August 2.
And staff who have had a role in the project from the outset are convinced it will be a significant asset in making science more attractive and accessible to girls of all ages and abilities.
Amanda O’Hear, Head of Teaching and Learning and also Head of Biology at Bridge of Earn's Kilgraston, said: “I believe every child is born with a natural scientific curiosity but girls can sometimes get deterred because they think science is dull and boring or only for the clever girls. If you can manage to attract a girl at the opportune time, you can really switch them on to science and open up a whole world of possibilities and opportunities.”
Amanda, married with a three-year-old daughter, has a degree in Biomedical Science from Aberdeen University. She came to Kilgraston in 2006 as a Biology teacher after being an Assistant Head in a London comprehensive where her main responsibility was raising attainment.
She says single-sex schools such as Kilgraston break down gender stereotypes.
“Women are under-represented in science but all-girl schools buck the trend. Here at Kilgraston we strive to be a centre of excellence and innovation in the teaching and learning of science and maths.
“All our girls are encouraged to study at least one science at Intermediate level and sciences are popular choices here at Higher and Advanced Higher Level. Teachers at Kilgraston try very hard to light a spark and inspire girls from an early age to pursue science, technology and engineering routes to University and then into related careers, and many of our former pupils have gone on to become doctors, engineers and physicists.”
Amanda explained that her background in neuroscience has many practical applications in teaching and learning at Kilgraston.
“Everyone has different types of intelligence and the trick is for a teacher to identify it. We all know that girls learn differently to boys. Research shows that girls like to work in threes and they like to have a period of quiet thought, reflection and planning at the outset of any project – unlike boys they usually don’t just jump in head-first. They also like to learn in small “bite-sized” sections and work up to the big picture.”
Amanda explained children have several different ways of learning and processing information: simplistically put, there are visual learners, auditory learners and kinaesthetic learners - which is “learning by doing”.
“My colleagues and I understand these different learning styles and we try to teach our girls accordingly. In a normal weekly lesson cycle, I try very hard to ensure there is a whole variety and range of different learning activities to try and include the three predominant learning styles. Our aim is to encourage our girls to become independent learners which is at the heart of Curriculum for Excellence here at Kilgraston, and I hope our new Science Centre will play a major role in this important area.”
Kilgraston Principal Frank Thompson commented: “We want our girls to discover a real interest in the sciences and give them as many opportunities as possible whilst at Kilgraston to pursue them. The new Science Centre provides us with the means to offer even more possibilities. We will be dedicating the next academic year as the "Year of Science and Society", with a series of special events and speakers to further raise the profile of the sciences within the school.”
Ends 20 June 2013
INFORMATION – Alan Clark, 01324 875454