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SciCast North Somerset


2010 / 2011 School Year

“The students developed skills in communicating science in a creative and interesting way.”


“Engaging, exciting, teambuilding, creative, new, different!”


Teachers talking about how SciCast benefitted their students


This was SciCast North Somerset’s second year. Feedback from last years event suggested that planning, shooting and editing films had a habit of taking a lot longer than anticipated. With this in mind the organisers suggested that this year teams should only spend five hours making their films. It was thought that a lot of time can be spent trying to achieve perfection when actually the most important elements in the film are scientific explanation and how the film fits together – both of which don’t need hours submerged in iMovie or Movie Maker.


It was good to see some new schools enter films this year and of course great to see some familiar faces from last year as well. In total ninety three students from ten schools entered nineteen films.


Apart from the five hour time limit, rules were the same as last year - Participants made a short film (two and a half minutes or less in duration) which contained a scientific explanation. The film could be based around a demonstration, an issue, an observation, an idea or concept; in fact anything to do with science.


Teams were supported by their ‘Producer, normally a Science Teacher or other member of school staff. Each team also had access to Film Practitioner Pippa Robinson for two hours. The teams decided what help Pippa provided – how to get the best shot, editing and so on.


SciCast is a competition so the films had to be judged – no easy task when the standard was consistently high. The judge’s panel was made up of Declan Fleming from the Royal Society of Chemistry, Pippa Robinson, plus a couple of ex-science teachers who shall remain anonymous!  Films were judged on how engaging they were, quality of scientific explanation and overall structure. The films with the highest rating received either  ‘Highly Commended’ or ‘Winner’ status.


The finale was held at the Curzon Cinema. Nearly every student and Producer attended and was treated to popcorn and coke whilst they watched their films on the big screen – a truly fantastic opportunity for everyone! This year we were also joined by some parents. So who were the winners?



Best Picture Category


Highly Commended: The Crazy Egg Experiment, Backwell School


Highly Commended: The Heart, Priory Community School


Winner: The Great Cheddar Cheese Mystery – Sidcot School



Best Scientific Explanation


Highly Commended:  Sticks of Death, Gordano Leading Edge School


Highly Commended: What’s the Matter, Ravenswood School


Winner: The Parachuting Hamster, Clevedon Community School



The organisers would like to say well done to all of the highly commended and winning teams, but equally they would like to say well done to every team who entered a film because the standard was universally high.


It’s interesting to note that Sidcot School won a category last year and Clevedon Community School also entered a very strong film. It seems these two schools are the schools to beat! Could we see the next Brian Cox or Melanie Sykes coming from their ranks?!


All of the films have been put onto a DVD which is being sent out to schools to be used as a teaching and learning resource.


At the end of the Showcase students and teachers were asked to complete a questionnaire asking them to reflect on their SciCast North Somerset experience. Overall feedback was excellent.


92% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that given a chance they would take part in SciCast again. This student said: ‘I would like to enter again because I had loads and loads of fun and I also learnt a lot!’ Another student enjoyed the Showcase: ‘I enjoyed seeing all the interesting films made by other schools.’ Teachers also found the competition a worth while experience: ‘SciCast is good fun. It’s nice to give students the chance to explore science outside of the classroom.’


So apart from being fun has SciCast North Somerset had any other impact on students? 90% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that by taking part in SciCast North Somerset they had developed new skills that will help them at school and in their personal lives. One obvious benefit is that students learnt how to make films: ‘I have learnt how to edit the film and cut parts out. I have also learnt how to talk loudly as a presenter.’ However lots of students have noticed that in the process of film making they developed other, more transferable, skills as well: ‘I have developed teamwork skills and determination.’ In fact teamwork and group work came up again and again. And despite the inevitable disagreements there were lots of positive outcomes, as this student observed: ‘By taking part I have made new friends.’


Students also learnt about science by making their films, after all to explain something clearly you need to know it pretty well yourself! 90% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that taking part in SciCast had helped their understanding of one or more scientific concepts. Typical comments from students included: ‘I understand lung function a lot more than before.’ And: ‘I learnt a lot about hydrogen and oxygen and how to talk about them scientifically.’ One teacher was pleased to see this knowledge translate into exam performance: ‘Students recently sat GCSE modular exams and said the making of their film meant they knew the answers.’ Independent learning was another benefit of taking part: ‘Students researched their idea and thought about how to simplify it.’


More surprisingly students communicated an increased enthusiasm for science as a result of entering SciCast North Somerset. 92% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that taking part in SciCast had increased their enthusiasm for Science. As one student put it: ‘Science was my second favourite subject but this has made me realise science is fun and now it's my favourite subject!’ And: I liked science before, now I love science.’ Also: ‘I have learnt how to see science in a different way.’ So why is this? Could it have something to do with SciCast being an enjoyable and engaging challenge? This student thinks so: ‘The fun has inspired me!’


I think that’s a good note to end on!


The organisers would like to say a big thank you to the large amount of people involved in making SciCast North Somerset a huge success:


Declan Fleming

Pippa Robinson

Julianna Photopoulos

Gareth Negus and the rest of the Curzon Cinema staff

Allan Kendal

All teachers and other staff who supported the teams, attended meetings and made arrangements.

All students who entered a film


Thank you!!!


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