Sparks and explosions and other intriguing stuff

You can’t do model rockets anymore as the engines are considered explosives. Photography has gone digital and taken the magic out of the emergence of an image in a bath of chemicals. Amateur radio has been made pass’e with cell phones and cheap walky talkies.

The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has noted a decline in science practicals, and an increasingly ‘narrow and mechanistic’ approach, with teachers doing the bare minimum to fulfil national curriculum requirements (1). Risk assessment procedures encourage teachers to stick to standardised experiments rather than try anything a bit different. Children’s curiousity is curtailed, says Wigley. ‘In the old days, when kids asked “what happens if…?”, teachers could often say “try it out”. Now they might say “I will tell you what happens”, and draw a diagram on the board.’ [Josie Appleton. Taking the spark out of science Spiked. 13 January 2005]

No risk, no gain. We cannot let our children go, we cannot delegate if it means they may find out about the real world in an unpleasant way. What will we get?

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