The Heathland School in the London Borough of Hounslow is among the first schools in the UK to use the new interactive science platform IntoScience from 3P Learning.
About the school
The Heathland School in the London Borough of Hounslow is a co-educational comprehensive school for 11-18 year olds, rated ‘outstanding’ at its last two Ofsted inspections. Larger than average, with 1,800 students, the school is a Mathematics and Science College combining traditional values with a modern approach to learning. It is committed to delivering exceptional academic success within an environment where pupils thrive and become confident, independent and informed. Its use of dynamic teaching methods aims to encourage students to develop a taste for intellectual enquiry, so equipping them with the skills to become lifelong learners.
The issues faced
Central to The Heathland School vision is a commitment to providing its students with exceptional and unrivalled learning experiences. “It’s essential that we remain at the cutting edge of education,” said Lyn Gimber, Heathland’s deputy head of science and head of chemistry. “We like to take advantage of innovative opportunities as they present themselves and are particularly interested in finding ways to ensure that some of our less motivated pupils get the most out of their lessons. There will inevitably be some students in school who struggle to complete homework assignments so we always look for activities which will encourage them to participate.”
The Heathland School was already involved with 3P Learning, global leader in online education, being a long-time, successful user of its award-winning Mathletics digital resource. They therefore needed little convincing that a similar learning platform covering science would be equally effective.
IntoScience is an immersive and highly engaging interactive 3D environment which brings the theory of science to life. It is aimed particularly at pupils aged 12-16 (KS3-4) and covers all fields of science.
The resource is particularly strong on pupil engagement and enquiry-based learning – allowing children to enter a 3D HD world packed with virtual experiments and deep contextual examples where they can discover, learn, play and revise their scientific knowledge. It brings the enthusiasm and passion which pupils typically enjoy while doing real experiments, to the learning of the theory behind them and the scientific concepts involved.
Essentially an interactive text book, IntoScience has the additional benefits of 100s of HD videos to support the other content and a competitive gaming element including the ability to collect points and certificates and play live quizzes with other students around the world.
“As soon as we were introduced to it we immediately saw its potential to engage and motivate our students,” said Lyn. “I particularly like the way it looks because it doesn’t look like a traditional educational product – it’s visually engaging, more fun and is very accessible and easy to use.”
“We started using IntoScience in September 2014 and the reaction from staff and students has been very positive,” said Lyn. “It was brand new to us and we had never used anything like it before, so we had to make sure first of all that our teaching staff were fully conversant with all the features and benefits. We’ve since found that the more confident the teacher, the better the outcomes.
“It’s too early to see an impact on our exam results, but we can already see students are enjoying it and that it provides good opportunities for them to revise because they can access it at home as well as while they are in school.
“The interface is very pupil friendly and certain features are great at attracting pupils to use it – particularly the ability to create and customise an avatar which represents the student as they explore a range of locations including a ‘research lab’, a ‘biodome’ and an ‘observatory’.”
The gamification of learning is a hot topic in education at the moment and something which IntoScience encompasses in its approach, making the subject more engaging and easier to understand.
“Students can also spend the ‘inquiry points’ they gather by playing ‘games’ within the resource,” said Lyn. “This element of competition incorporated into the software is great and really encourages students to do as well as they possibly can. They really enjoy the ‘quests’ and seem to like the fact they can play a game while they are learning.
“For staff, one of the most popular features is the in-built feedback and summaries of student performance. This helps us to track each student’s progress and to see which challenges and areas they have attempted – especially useful for setting tasks and activities as homework and checking when it has been completed.
“I would definitely recommend it.”
Box out – About IntoScience
IntoScience brings the theory of science to life in a way no book or other resource can. From playing basketball on the moon to discover differences between weight and mass, crashing a car to learn about friction or exploring virtual Asian woodland to learn about the taxonomy hierarchy, IntoScience offers experiences for learning which are out of this world, yet remain true to the principles of science.
Already widely used in Australia and the United States, IntoScience was launched in the UK in 2014, where its topics and activities are linked to the National Curriculum objectives. It is a fun and inquiry-led way for students to interact with science, particularly at KS3, expanding their learning through knowledge application and reasoning. It is packed with features and resources for teachers, including detailed lesson and homework guides covering everything from summaries of key learning points to suggested timings and discussion points. It also monitors and reports student progress and results, including formative assessment.
Heralded as a ‘ground-breaking leap forward in secondary school science education, it is tablet friendly and highly suitable for use in a flipped classroom environment.