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 Brief overview of the main research considered A review considering the following research was carried out prior to the pilot study. Students becoming researchers In 2019, Dunlop et al. carried out a study of 39 students aged 16-19 to investigate students’ experiences of independent research projects (IRP) in order to answer two questions: c What is the impact of IRPs on students’ learning to become a researcher? c What is the impact of IRPs on students’ aspirations in relation to science? The schools sampled had a strong culture of IRP work. Research projects with scientists in universities, industry and non-governmental organisations had been set up by teachers. Young people’s views on science education – Science Education Tracker 2019 The Science Education Tracker (SET) survey was first completed in 2016 with a small sample of students in Years 10-13. The survey was repeated in 2019 with a larger random sample of 6,409 students aged 11-18 attending state-funded secondary schools. Respondents were asked questions about a range of topics including their experience of science education, their plans for the future and their attitudes towards sciencerelated careers. The questions built on those asked in SET 2016, although many questions were redeveloped to allow for changes in policy priorities since 2016, and also to build new content suitable for the younger age group (school Years 7-9) covered for the first time in SET 2019. British Science Association: CREST Silver Award - enquiry based learning in science At the time of the pilot, the CREST programme was being evaluated by a team from NatCen, who carried out an effectiveness trial with 180 schools randomised to ‘treatment’ or a ‘business as usual’ control. Year 9 students were offered the opportunity to attend a CREST club and a standardised test was taken, where progression onto GCSE study and a character measure were investigated. The report was published in the autumn of 2019. The impact of qualification reform on the practical skills of A-level science students Ofqual recently undertook a programme of research evaluating the impact of qualification reform on the practical skills of A-level students. Five reports were produced in total, the fifth (Ofqual, 2019) being a final report on the evaluation. The research included semi-structured interviews with 38 teachers from 12 schools and colleges to examine their perspectives on A-level reform after the first year. It also evaluated the ability of 14 experienced Chemistry A-level examiners to assess the performance of five students as they undertook four different short practical tasks. In addition, in 15 universities over three years (2016, 2017 and 2018), the research evaluated the ability of undergraduates to carry out specially designed, ‘hands-on’ practical science skills assessments (Practical Skills Measures). Open-ended and extended investigative projects in science: Report to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation The University of York Science Education Group, funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, published a report into teachers’ use of open- 32
MAKING IT HAPPEN ended investigative work post-16 (Dunlop et al., 2019). It investigated the types of work undertaken, why it was done, the organisation, and the perceived opportunities and challenges. A total of 17 teachers responded to the short questionnaire, of which 12 took part in extended, semi-structured interviews. The teachers in the sample had been in the classroom for more than five years and in state schools which were rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted. The report only includes data from those who were dedicated to providing open-ended investigative projects, not the wider teacher population. Monitoring practical science in schools and colleges: Project Report In February 2019, Cramman et al., from Durham University, published a report into the quantity and breadth of practical work being undertaken in England and Scotland between 2015 and 2017. The study, funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, surveyed school staff, higher education students and higher education staff. It carried out school focus groups, as well as higher education and school staff telephone interviews. There were 4,176 respondents comprising of science teachers, heads of science, science technicians, first year science undergraduate students and university staff responsible for first year science laboratorybased courses. The institutions covered included state and independent schools in England and state schools in Scotland, with respondents being more highly qualified than the overall teaching workforce. Quantifying CREST: What impact does the Silver CREST Award have on science scores and STEM subject selection? In 2016, the BSA published an independent quantitative review (Stock Jones et al., 2016), which investigated the impact of extra-curricular Silver CREST Awards on both the outcomes of students at GCSE, and the likelihood of them continuing to AS levels in STEM subjects. The sample focused on students in English state schools who took part in the Silver CREST Awards between 2010 and 2013. This equated to 2.4 million students at KS4, of whom 3,800 undertook a Silver CREST Award, and 1.0 million students at KS5, of whom 2,300 participated in a Silver CREST Award. A Rapid Evidence Review of Practical Independent Research Projects in Science Bennett et al. (2016) carried out a rapid evidence review for the Wellcome Trust in order to identify schemes available in the UK for encouraging the use of practical independent research projects (IRPs) in secondary/high school science. They reviewed 39 publications from 12 countries, interviewed students and 27 key informants (funders of IRPs, those with responsibility for implementing large-scale IRPs, teachers and others responsible for local implementation), and included five international case studies (Australia, Israel and USA, identified from literature review, and the Netherlands and Singapore, recommended from personal contacts). Rapid evidence review of Good Practical Science In December 2015, Cukurova et al. produced a rapid evidence review for the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. This was a small-scale systematic review of the literature and policy documentation around practical science work, carried out using a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA). The purpose of the review was to answer the question: ‘What does practical work in secondary school science look like when it is good?’ It included international comparisons, curricula breakdowns and research literature. The top ten performing countries in the 2012 PISA rankings were selected for policy review, alongside England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Maintaining Curiosity: A survey into science education in schools The Maintaining Curiosity report was published by Ofsted in 2013. It examined science teaching in 91 primary schools, 89 secondary schools (including 53 with sixth forms) and six special schools between 2010 and 2013. Examining both the acquisition of knowledge and the development of investigative and practical skills, there was a particular focus on the time spent developing the practical skills necessary for future work in science, technology or engineering. It also investigated the opportunities provided for students to work independently, particularly when developing their individual manipulative skills during practical work. 33