Who got that cash?

April 27, 2007

Academics at Nottingham Trent University will address the declining popularity of science subjects at a new centre of excellence, where staff will examine how science subjects are taught from primary school through to university.

Academics in the Centre for Effective Learning in Science have put together materials that they hope will inspire more schoolchildren and undergraduates to choose to study science.

The facility is among the centres for excellence in teaching and learning that received funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England in 2005.

Karen Moss (right), director of the centre, said: "We are the only one that handles core science subjects such as biology, physics and chemistry and also newer, developing interdisciplinary subjects such as sport and forensic science.

"We want to get to grips with what it is about science that people find so difficult. Is it maths that's the problem, or something else? We'll work with students on what they find difficult and why and develop the appropriate learning resources."

The £2.35 million capital funding from Hefce paid for a new lecture theatre, three seminar rooms, a computing suite, office space and a mock-up of a secondary-school laboratory for teaching purposes.

There is also a new observatory with a 500mm telescope for undergraduates and local astronomy societies to use.

Further funding of £500,000 a year will go towards outreach work and pay for postdoctoral students to cover for the more experienced academics while they are seconded to the centre.

"They get the chance to experience academic life on a three-year contract and find out what it's like balancing teaching, research and administration, and we get the expertise of the academics on secondment," Dr Moss explained.

The centre has also secured £93,000 from the regional development agency to go into schools and explain areas of science developed in the region, such as magnetic resonance imaging.

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