Tool WD-1: Comparing tasks

For this tool you will need the following resources:

  • WD-1 PowerPoint
  • Handout 1: Science tasks to bring the world of work into the classroom
  • Sample tasks (3)

This activity explores three tasks, two from the mascil repository and one from the National STEM Centre (UK). Teachers explore the tasks and consider how, and how well, these tasks provide students download_powerpointwith experiences that could be seen as authentic ‘work-like’ activities.

The first task, On the scrap heap, aims to let students investigate about rust through experiments and theoretical studies. The extent of the investigation and the level of expectation can be adjusted to the student age group and ability.

The presentation of the task provides some background information and support for teachers; here we  provide more detailed support.

The task description includes the text: “The problem of corrosion happens in many areas in the world of work. Understanding the phenomenon of rust lays the foundation for further study of corrosion.”

teamworkProvide the group with copies of the first task and discuss with the whole group how well the task relates to the world of work and the ways in which their students might engage with this aspect of the task. You could use some or all of the questions here as prompts:download_general

  • For you, how does this context relate to the world of work?
  • In which ways could you encourage your students to appreciate the importance of this context for real life? (Teachers might suggest, for example, showing the students some photographs or video of industrial contexts in which rust is a danger).
  • What role does the student take when doing this task? (Remains a student).
  • Is it important that students are aware of the role they are taking?
  • Would you use this task in the classroom to promote connections between school science and the world of work? Would you use it to teach science (without emphasising the connections to the world of work)?

Now consider two further tasks from the mascil materials:

Waterquality: Swim without risk? download_general


Searching for Signs of Life on Marsdownload_general


In small group discussions, teachers now compare and teamworkcontrast the tasks in terms of their relationship to the world of work. Give them the Handout: Science tasks to bring the world of work into the classroom and encourage them to write down their answers to the questions below.

  • Which of these tasks is most closely related to the world of work? Why?
  • Which task would be more valuable in emphasising to students how school science relates to the world of work?
  • Which context would appeal best to your students, and why? How could you exploit their interest to engage them in science more generally?
  • Which context is more authentic? Does it matter?
  • Which activity would be best for teaching science? Which would be best for engaging your students? Which is more authentic, and does it matter?

classBring the group together and ask the teachers to select a task (from anywhere, but it should allow the students to relate to the world of work) which they would like to use with their students. Together the group should devise one or more questions that they would like to answer about using the tasks they have chosen. (For example, ‘In which ways do the students engage in the context?’).

Each teacher should teach the task before the next session and make some obsenextstepsrvations that will allow them to answer their question or questions. They should be prepared to report back about their experiences in the next session. When they report back, they should reflect not only on ‘how it went’ but also on what they think the students have learned and what they have learned.