Bithika Basir is currently volunteering with Enabling Enterprise, supporting the team with delivering trips for schools to top UK businesses. As a science graduate, she speaks about her passion for practical, creative learning, and how she has enjoyed seeing a more hands-on approach to education during her time at EE.

Having recently graduated from university where I was studying Chemistry, it’s suddenly been quite a jump into the real working world. I could only describe my time at university as being one of the best and worst experiences of my life so far. From meeting new friends and learning how to fend for myself, to pulling my hair out in preparation for exams, it certainly was three years of my life I’ll never forget!

Chemistry has always been a subject which I’ve been interested in. The interactions and complex reactions that take place at a level that is unseen to the eye is what I found most fascinating about it. The thought and concentration needed to fully understand what is happening during these processes is what interested me and drove me to delve more into the subject. Knowing that a simple reaction can cause the discovery of a new product, chemistry appealed to both my analytical and creative skills.

Conventional textbook learning: a thing of the past?

The moment I watched my first science experiment take place – with the flames rising high and the magic of watching a litmus paper change colour in the presence of an acid or base – is probably what I remember most clearly from my secondary school science education. And I would say that it was the moment I realised that Chemistry was the subject I wanted to go on and study. But I don’t think the reason why this stuck with me was because I was conducting an experiment, it was the fact that I wasn’t sat behind a desk anymore and I had something tangible to show from my work.
Conducting science experiments was not something that we did in school often.

Instead, textbook learning was and still is a common occurrence in the classroom. I remember having to memorise answers in the hope that I had all the information packed inside my brain to pass an exam. There was no fun and games, no practical work or collaboration; it was just a case of trying to cram in all that information.

While I am all for people choosing to study sciences at A-Levels and further education, more must be done to make science more enterprising, to overcome the tedium of learning just for the sake of exams. This is not only to encourage more students to continue their science education, but also to enhance their skills which can be used when they enter the world of work, particularly as the number of young people choosing science continues to dwindle.

Making Science more Enterprising

Research indicates that students are more likely to retain the knowledge gained through this approach far more readily than through traditional textbook-centered learning. During my time at Enabling Enterprise, I have seen what this kind of enterprising learning can look like. Through the support of 25 top businesses, Enabling Enterprise designs lesson-time projects for all areas of the curriculum, where students can take the lead and step directly into the world of work.

For example, during Science lessons, students can explore the role of science as a driving force of the economy and develop their experimental skills, by competing in teams to design and build a series of inventions. Through a real-world challenge, students can gain a deeper understanding of their subject, whilst also developing core skills for the workplace – such as teamwork, creativity and effective communication. What is more, rather than learning from a text book, they are able to see and understand the real world applications of science within and beyond the classroom.

Moving forward

From my experience, I certainly feel that teaching science through enterprise is the new way forward. I believe this will encourage young students to further their education and hopefully their careers in science. And who knows, it may also be responsible for producing some of the scientific stars of our future.

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