Broadly speaking the better the equipment, the more reliable and accurate the results are of Science experiments. Good School Science equipment has always been important, especially when Science classes rely of the results to provide experiential evidence for theoretical knowledge. If the equipment is not accurate … well, the results are just not as good. With this can come a little erosion of confidence in the minds of students we are teaching. We do not want Science students to think that experiments don’t work.
Modern Science classes rely on technology to collect data from experiments. It is best if this equipment is easy for students to use. Equipment which is difficult to set up and complicated to use will detract from learning. If the equipment takes a long time to set up, the students do not have as much time to engage in experimental work. If the data is difficult to access or understand, students focus on how to access the data rather than on the concepts being tested.
Hence it is important the Science technological equipment is easy to set up and use, provides accurate and reliable results and that the data is easy to access. If this is the case, it will open doors to previously inaccessible learning activities. A teacher can provide the students with an experiment to perform such as those to support Newton’s laws of motion or the temperature changes in chemical reactions. Accurate data gathered by students will bring them to the conclusion that theories are based in the experiential world.
But there is more that can be done with good technological equipment. If students are confident in using the equipment, they will be more confident to develop their own experiments to test theories. Asking students to develop their own experiments teaches them to be innovative and to think about the concepts that they are being taught. It is a deeper student centred learning which occurs as a result of students having greater autonomy.
While good technological equipment assists learning, bad equipment is detrimental. When the equipment is difficult to set up it leads to frustration and disengagement. Poor results create in students the belief that ‘experiments do not work’. We want to create the ‘WOW’ factor – so this really works! There is a sense of satisfaction in seeing students’ astonishment when they see that theory matches results. Moreover it is something that they will remember. And Science experiments become a positive experience. Students feel competent and capable. This is a great incentive for them to pursue their study of Science.
Regardless of the branch of Science, be it Biology, Geology, Chemistry or Physics the equipment school students rely on for practical work is important. It contributes to how students see themselves performing in the subject and their engagement with the learning activity. When purchasing Science equipment it is important that teachers test different brands and models to find what will best suit their students. Although Year 12 students sit theoretical examinations which contribute the larger part of their overall result, the practical experience of Science is another dimension. It has the potential to determine what students will study after they leave school.
Using good technological equipment in Science is important as it builds self-confidence, creates belief in the concepts you are teaching, and leads to greater innovation and cooperation.
An interesting case study is that done at Brighton Grammar. It highlights the importance of good technology.