Bronze Awards are typically completed by students aged 11+. They complete a ten-hour project which is a perfect introduction to STEM project work. Over the course of the project, teams of students design their own investigation, record their findings, and reflect on their learnings. This process gives students a taste of what it is like to be a scientist or engineer in the real-world.
Silver Awards are typically completed by students aged 14+ over thirty hours. Project work at Silver level is designed to stretch your students and enrich their STEM studies. Students direct the project, determining the project’s aim and how they will achieve it. They carry out the project, record and analyse their results and reflect on the project and their learnings. All Silver projects are assessed by CREST assessors via our online platform.
Gold Awards are typically completed by students aged 16+ over seventy hours. Students’ projects are self-directed, longer term and immerse them in real research. At this level, we recommend students work with a mentor from their chosen STEM field of study. All Gold projects are assessed by CREST assessors via our online platform. There are more CREST approved resources that have been developed by our partners and providers specific to your region.
Find out how to build practical CREST projects into secondary science lessons using our free teacher guidance pack. Supporting this guidance are easy-to-use, free-to-download mapping workbooks, which match individual Bronze, Silver and Gold CREST Award projects with each area of the secondary science curricula for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You can download and save your own copy of the relevant mapping workbook via the following links:
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INVESTIGATIVE PRACTICAL SCIENCE IN THE CURRICULUM A-level Biology case study CREST Bronze, CPAC and OCR A-level Biology Amanda Jones, science teacher Beaumont School An extension of Practical Activity Group 12 (PAG 12): Research skills - Apply investigative approaches to the measurement of photosynthesis in pondweed. School context Beaumont School is a comprehensive academy, with a mixed cohort between the ages of 11 and 18. There are just over 1,300 students on roll with approximately 8% Pupil Premium. There are three Year 13 classes for A-level Biology, each containing 14-16 students. Who participated? 16 Year 13 students studying OCR A-level Biology. Amanda introduced the concept to the students and explained how the CREST Award complimented the PAG 12 requirements. Students undertook research to decide their main focus, for example the concentration of carbon dioxide or light intensity. After planning their practical work students carried out a preliminary experiment and were given time to evaluate and improve their plans in response. Students were incredibly creative in their choice of practical work, for example investigating the impact of oil spills on the rate of photosynthesis. 12
MAKING IT HAPPEN It was an easy practical, but lots of things could go wrong and did. They had to sort them out. I loved seeing them be creative. Amanda, science teacher When did they do it? In the Autumn term of Year 13, completing the Award by Christmas. In-class allocation was as follows: 1 hour introduction to CREST, including how to reference and use statistics to analyse data; 2 hours for preliminary practical work; and 2 hours for the practical investigation. Students completed written work and research outside of curriculum time. Perceived benefits to the students Many students chose to work independently, which was probably one of the first times they had the opportunity to do so. Some students enjoyed being in control of their investigations from start to finish. The preliminary work really helped me to improve our method as it showed flaws in our original plan. Year 13 student It was interesting to conduct preliminary experiments in order to find out the most efficient method. I liked learning more about the topic and its applications to the wider world. Year 13 student Who needs to be on board? Amanda said that her technician was “fantastic” having “warned him in advance that it was open-ended and there may be last minute requests.” Barriers and how they were overcome Some students were a little reluctant to do something which was not directly on their examination. In the beginning they asked ‘how much time is this going to take up’, ‘what will we not get as much teaching on?’ and ‘will we finish the course?’ Some students asked if they had to do it. There was one student who was really worried about it; the student was probably one of the least confident practically as well. It was probably the students who were not planning to do science after A-level who proved most reluctant. To overcome these barriers, Amanda explained the crossover between the CREST Award, the specification requirements and PAG 12. Perceived benefits to teaching and learning Running the PAG 12 investigation as a CREST Award actually made the class take it more seriously. Prior to A-level students were used to knowing what the expected practical outcomes should be. By carrying out preliminary work they could identify how to improve their methodology; this was a turning point for both Amanda and the students. Amanda will run Bronze in this way for Year 12 next year. Top tip for teachers c Have tight deadlines and stick to them to ensure all students know what is expected. c Let students run with their ideas first before stepping in. c Use the student workbook from the beginning. 13