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 Silver, CPAC and AQA A-level Biology James Allen, Head of Biology Helston Community College An extension of Required Practical 6 (RP6): The use of aseptic techniques to investigate the effect of antimicrobial substances on microbial growth. School context Helston Community College 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 18% Pupil Premium. Who participated? 14 Year 12 students studying AQA A-level Biology. James taught students the basic skills and knowledge needed for the required practical. Students completed RP6 in the normal way and were then given the opportunity to expand the experiment to investigate the prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in their local environment. Students collected their own samples to compare with each others’ and the results from peer-reviewed papers. The project was linked out to various topic areas in the specification, including immunity, natural selection and the use of statistics, as well as microbiology. 18
MAKING IT HAPPEN To look at evidence and form your own conclusions is a really important skill regardless of whether or not you want to go on to do science in later life. So, I think that helping students to develop that skill is key to them being successful humans. That’s the more important thing for me – to be an individual that can actually function in the world. If we don’t do that then we’ve failed. James, Head of Biology When did they do it? One lesson per fortnight during the first term; one-sixth of the total teaching hours. Then approximately 10-15 minutes of each lesson with James for the remainder of the year. In addition, lessons on statistical tests and other relevant topic areas supplemented the CREST Award-specific sessions. Perceived benefits to the students Students looked critically at their own work, as well as the work of others, and were able to use evidence to form their own conclusions. James felt these were important skills, particularly in the current climate, where being able to interpret conflicting information is vital regardless of whether or not students want to study science in later life. He felt that students were also gaining the skills they needed to be successful in their examinations. By Christmas students had become much more independent in their approach to practical work. Who needs to be on board? The partner teacher, head of department, headteacher and science technicians. Barriers and how they were overcome Initially James introduced the CREST Award as a practical research project and asked students to investigate various methods independently – they struggled to do this without support. As the majority were Separate Science GCSE students, James assumed they would remember the practical from GCSE Science. He found that he had underestimated how competent they would be. Students needed step-by-step support through the process before they became independent. Conscientious students worried about spending time on a project which did not directly contribute to their examinations. To overcome this issue James explained how completing the Award embedded and applied knowledge and understanding from the specification. Perceived benefits to teaching and learning It stimulated James to resequence the curriculum to support learning of key topic areas and equip students with skills to both pass the examination and become more capable scientists. James is integrating CREST into his curriculum for the next academic year. Top tip for teachers Start really simple – assume the students know nothing. 19