Response to Lab in a Lorry Evaluation

 

The results of the Lab in a Lorry evaluation by Durham University are very positive. The programme has been shown to inspire younger people with science, offer volunteers the opportunity to share their enthusiasm and curiosity about science, and give teachers a reference to experiments with which they can enhance their lessons.

 

We aim to continue to improve and develop the Lab in a Lorry programme for all stakeholders and the evaluation has assisted in the identification of areas which need attention. Therefore, in response to the evaluation the Lab in a Lorry team have implemented the following changes.

 

Lab and experiment design

 

The evaluation found that the layout of the Lab works well, as does the format of having six pupils exploring one experiment. However, it was identified that the pupils working with the Hele Shaw experiment were occasionally distracted by the sound produced by the Resonance experiment. To reduce this distraction the following changes to the experimental kit and interior of the Labs will be made:

 

  • A curtain installed between Hele Shaw and Resonance experimental zones.
  • A redesigned sound proof box manufactured for the Resonance experiment.

 

The evaluation suggests that the Scattering experiment was the least popular due to the lack of ‘hands-on’ involvement by pupils. The following changes have been implemented to help overcome this:

 

  • The presentation method altered to make the Scattering experiment more ‘hands-on’ for pupils.
  • Additional props purchased to assist volunteers in the explanation and delivery of the experiment.

 

Volunteer information

 

The enthusiasm and the ability to communicate science of the volunteers was one of the key elements identified as making Lab in a Lorry a successful science communication programme. To build on this vital link between pupils and volunteers, volunteer training will offer advice and guidance on how to engage with audiences and how to increase pupil involvement during the experiments. This information will be given both in the pre-printed material and in the training that takes place with the Operations Co-ordinators.

 

Tour schedule

 

From April 2006, Lab in a Lorry will be operating on a tour schedule basis, visiting different regions of the UK and Ireland. The opportunity to host the Lab will be offered to schools in the scheduled regions. This tour schedule will help to meet the evaluation recommendation that the Lab should stay in one place longer to allow more pupils to visit it.

 

Continued science communication

 

Volunteers who are involved in Lab in a Lorry are trained as Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAs) by their local SETPoint. In addition to this training, the Lab in a Lorry team are now sending all volunteers a quarterly newsletter which offers opportunities to become involved in further science communication outreach activities.

 

The evaluation results regarding the impact of Lab in a Lorry on pupils’ future intentions were very encouraging.  We know that Lab in a Lorry on its own cannot reverse the decline in positive attitudes towards science. Yet by increasing the awareness of and involvement in science communication activities by Lab in a Lorry volunteers, it is hoped that pupils will be exposed to a greater range of science communication activities, and as a result this may have a positive effect on changing their attitudes.