Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Spirit of Enquiry

What a fascinating morning! I was asked by one of my daughter's teachers to help out with their "Spirit of Enquiry" week, where three to four times a year, normal curriculum is suspended and pupils engage in an intense programme of self-learning.

This week's theme is around food and farming, and today saw a simulated outbreak of Avian flu. The whole of Year 7 split up into groups - farmers, politicians, emergency services and so on - planning their actions and messages with all the seriousness of a real emergency. I played "political adviser" to around thirty pupils, discussing the messages to the public and the media and how you'd enforce a restriction zone.

The afternoon, I was told, would see half the group in the IT suite working on laws of probability using real infection simulation software from Glaxo, while the other half worked in the lab with flasks of clear liquid, decanting their fluid into each other's flasks, adding indicator agent to show which flasks were now "infected", then using regression techniques to track the one flask which carried "the source of infection".

With collapsing "bird flu victims" and real ambulance men, I only wish my school days were this interesting. Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls http://www.tgs.kent.sch.uk/home_1.aspx?id=1:31461 truly understands the spirit of enquiry.

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