Cost, storage, and disposal of used chemicals have impacted on science education in schools. But now physics, chemistry and biology in the classroom have have learnt a lesson from the subject itself. The latest science teaching resources have been miniaturised without losing any impact in the effectiveness of the curriculum. Saving storage space, cleaning time and minimising the use and disposal of chemicals the microscience workstation approach is a truly green approach to education.
As its name implies Microscience is science practical work carried out on a small scale. The scientific principles of the conventional scale still apply but there are many differences that make Microscience very educationally rewarding.:
- Students can work individually gaining greater ownership of their learning and allow teacher assessment
- Lower cost using much smaller amounts of chemicals in the experiments
- Environmentally friendly with lower consumption of energy, water and less waste
- Lower health and safety risks means those impossible experiments becomes possible!
- Experiments are quicker with less clearing up, washing and storage of equipment
- More time is available for lesson introductions and plenary sessions.
The workstation is easy-to-use, adaptable and has well-established laboratory procedures and supplied with a large number of materials and worksheets. The hand-sized Comboplate allows microscale experiments at primary, secondary and tertiary levels and a link between practical work at all three. Other innovations such as the Combostill (used for organic preparations) and the microburette provides an almost complete coverage of chemical techniques. The science experiments avoidable on a micro scale include:
- Gas preparation and testing
- Distillation and refluxing (including steam distillation)
- Heating of chemicals and testing the gases evolved
- Rates of reaction including reactions catalysed by enzymes
- Quantitative chemistry including titrations; molar volumes and gravimetric analysis
- Preparation of salts
- ‘Test-tube’ experiments
- Separating the components of mixtures
- Electrical circuits
- Food testing
- Simulation of osmosis and other phenomena
Micoscience overcomes many anxieties of practical work for teachers. Working on a micro scale encourages innovative and an heuristic approach. The apparatus can also be taken home. The amounts of chemicals used are so small the kitchen worktop is ideal as a place of work and the waste can disappear safely down the kitchen sink. The adaptable and easy-to-use apparatus has spearheaded a completely new approach to science in the classroom. Teachers are given confidence by the ease of use and the range of worksheets and support available.