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About UPD8

The Concept

Science UPD8 is a new concept – translating the latest breakthroughs and science behind the news, into inspiring activities – and publishing them lightning fast. Quality and ease of use mean that teachers simply "download and go".

With sponsorship from Planet Science and IBM, the concept was piloted between January and April 2003. The project was managed by Tony Sherborne at the Centre for Science Education, Sheffield Hallam University and Marianne Cutler and Daniel Sandford-Smith at the Association for Science Education (ASE).

We developed over 30 activities, taking 7 – 10 days to complete, published activities. Teachers who signed up were alerted about new activities by email or mobile text messages. They simply clicked the link to download the activity sheets, originally from the ASE website.

The pilot target were to get 500 subscribers and find out whether Science UPD8

  1. impacts on teachers practice and
  2. engages pupils with science

By the end of the ten-week pilot, we had 1300 subscribers. Two years later we have more than 4500, a committed team of activity developers and a wide range of partners have been involved including the BBC and Open University, Cancer Research UK, DfES, Institute of Physics, PPARC, Royal Society of Chemistry, Visions of Science and the Wellcome Trust.

What we have found out from our evaluations

80+% of the subscribers are teachers. DfES Consultants and Science Advisers are well represented, often sighting Science UPD8 as best practice.

Teachers like the activities mainly because their topicality is motivating and they get pupils talking about science. Most teachers use three to four activities each term with a broad spectrum of pupils’ abilities and interests at Key Stage 3 (11-14). The only obstacle to using more activities was simply the lack of time in the curriculum. 96% of subscribers said they wanted to continue using the service in the future.

Overall, evaluation suggests Science UPD8 caters for a so far unmet need – for topical, relevant science contexts, to introduce lessons in motivating ways, and encourage discussion through short easy to use activities – the most popular are downloaded by 2000+ unique users.

We have taken the main ideas for improving the service on board so it is now possible to search for activities by curriculum topic and find activities covering “dull and difficult” topics. We are also providing more scientific background in the teachers’ notes. Additionally we are developing Primary UPD8 activities for younger pupils at Key Stage 2 (7-11) and run popular UPD8 Live! CPD courses for teachers wishing to create their own UPD8 style activities.

Feedback please!

We are always interested in finding out what teachers think of Science UPD8 activities and how they use them in the classroom so helping to shape future activities.

So please comment through reviews and comments and vent your views on breaking science through free radical.


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The upd8 store
200 lessons and assessments from as little as £4.95