CREST in Wales: 'Engaging, relevant and flexible' The British Science Association has been partnering with the Welsh Government to deliver free CREST Awards in Wales since 2015. In that time, more than 12,000 students have taken part and achieved their Awards ranging from Discovery to Gold. We also offer a variety of Welsh language resources for Discovery, Bronze, Silver & Gold levels, ensuring all secondary school pupils in Wales are accommodated for. You can access these by getting in touch with us directly here. We spoke to Alicia Davies, a science teacher at Ysgol Nantgwyn in the South Wales Valleys to get her views about running the CREST Awards virtually over the last few months. Hi there Alicia, thanks for your time. Firstly, how did the students find doing the CREST Awards in lockdown? The children absolutely loved doing their CREST Awards. It was their sole STEM provision for years 4-8, and it was really important to me to use this time as a way to do something meaningful, relevant and engaging, alongside allowing the children to work towards a tangible achievement that they could look back upon and feel proud about… CREST provided that! The COVID-19 lockdown situation is a perfect example of an unforeseen ‘problem’ that needs STEM thinking to tackle it – what could be better than to actually engage the children to think of real life solutions to the problems that they were tackling every day? The children really engaged with it as a goal to work towards, and the feedback from them and parents has been so positive. Lots of children have stated that it was their favourite part of the lockdown resources provided by the school, so I think that is definitely a good sign! It’s great to see so much creativity in these times. How was it to organise from a teacher’s perspective? I really enjoyed organising it. I started off by looking at the resources available on the CREST website to see what the end goal should be, and I ended up adapting the ‘Stop the Spread’ package to be about airborne diseases instead of waterborne diseases (for obvious reasons!). I used PowerPoint to make videos that were roughly 5-10 minutes long, each containing a starter activity, main activity and assignment for the week. There were 5 sessions (one a week) and emphasis was on the skills that children would gain. It was really important to me to keep it very hands-on and varied; activities ranged from online scavenger hunts, to informative poems and comic strips, to product design and analysis, and of course self reflection! The emphasis was also on self-management, challenge and resourcefulness; pupils had to complete the challenges using whatever resources they had available to them in their lockdown situation, so either around the house or found on their walks. This made it very topical and relevant, and meant that the limitations of lockdown were built in as a driver of innovation, rather than a limiting factor. How useful was having CREST from a convenience perspective given the difficulties of remote teaching? CREST provided a framework for me to work from when adapting my practice to remote teaching. By having a skills focus with an open ended challenge, it meant that all pupils were able to adapt their work in whichever ways they had available to them at home. This was really important as access to resources is obviously a huge potential limitation for kids who are at home. How much of a difference has it made offering the CREST Awards for free? A huge amount. Quite simply, it allowed us to run the CREST Award for years 4-8 – we would not have been able to do it without it being free. Not only have they all had access to the Discovery Award, but those who completed it are now working towards the Bronze Award in a second running of the project. It meant so much that the British Science Association would be verifying their work; it gave them a huge boost and sense of purpose. What is your advice to other schools throughout Wales who are considering the CREST Awards for their classrooms? I would absolutely recommend the CREST Awards. It is engaging, relevant and flexible - very straightforward and overall a very positive experience! For more support, or if you are interested in learning more about CREST Awards in Wales, you can contact See Science Gweld Gwyddoniaeth. You can also visit the CREST Awards website to find out more about the different levels and certificates your students can work towards. The CREST Awards are supported by UK Research and Innovation.