Spotlight on Filmit and Outdoor Science

Our 'Exploring science in the garden using film’ workshops show how filmmaking can enhance science teaching by bringing children closer to nature, explains Paul Main, filmit Manager.

Teachers are getting the chance to play David Attenborough whilst exploring the complexities of the science curriculum, thanks to our 'Exploring science in the garden using film' course. Delegates have seen how the outside spaces in all our schools can be transformed into scientific resources. Whatever the season, our gardens and fields have plenty of scientific changes going on. These changes can be used to reinforce the science curriculum and provide plenty of concrete examples that help the children make sense of abstract concepts. 

Filmmaking gives children the opportunity to interrogate science at a deeper level. It has the potential to put children in the driving seat, encouraging them to get creative with essential curriculum knowledge. Using filmmaking as an instructional tool prompts learners to take ownership of their work, and having a video to showcase transforms pupils into directors. This alone motivates children to produce their best work. 

School grounds are host to an array of interesting processes to document, and our starting point is always to unpick what lends itself to moving image. To find the really fascinating nature we have to encourage children to move closer and focus in on the macro world. This involves taking photos at extreme closeup and getting the camera into unusual places. The most intriguing finds are almost always hidden. Armed with iPads and information about bugs, we are putting children in the perfect position to explore the outside world as environmental journalists. 

The English weather does not always lend itself to being outside and those precious handheld devices do not like water. If the science lesson does fall on a rainy day then concentrate on examining something small, such as the anatomy of a plant, or a simple process like potting plants. Filmmaking has become easier in recent years and creating an instructional video is fairly straightforward. The most important part is encouraging children to identify the sequence of steps to go through. This has the advantage of slowing down learning and encourages children to anticipate someone else's point of view. Learners are required to think about language and make sure their explanations make sense to both themselves and their audience. Watching themselves back on a screen gives our young filmmakers the perfect feedback they need to improve their masterpieces. 

As with all new projects, our advice would be to start small and aim for something manageable for your first film. You can expect to see children becoming more comfortable in front of camera and their productions becoming more polished over time, but this only comes with practice. If you have any questions or want to talk about filmmaking with Open Futures please do not hesitate to contact us

Date of publication 
Thursday, April 27, 2017