ULiS: University Learning in Schools – a Partnership between University Researchers and School Teachers to Improve Student Outcomes
Bringing space to the classroom
William Dunn
UCL/ Mullard Space Science Laboratory
The Brilliant Club, Achievement for All 3As, Lampton School, Haberdashers’ Askes’ Federation, Mark McGowran, Lisa Knowles, Rachael Curzons, Michael Slavinsky
University Learning in Schools (ULiS) is an innovative project that began life with a question: could a partnership between researchers - who possess exceptional subject knowledge - and teachers - who have pedagogical experience - improve student outcomes?
To answer this for physics, an astrophysics PhD student was partnered with a science teacher to produce a 10-lesson KS3 course on exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars). While recent exoplanet discoveries may seem profound, the youth of the field makes the material very accessible for school pupils. The ULiS course seeks to utilise that accessibility to offer teachers current and engaging contexts for traditional curriculum science. For example: the Doppler effect is often explained using the siren of a moving ambulance, however, scientists have also used this concept to discover hundreds of new planets - the science firmly grounded in KS3/KS4 material.
The course offers pupils opportunities to experiment with real exoplanet data, so that they can characterise planets for themselves. It permits age/ability flexibility here: ranging from qualitatively explaining planetary environments to re-arranging and applying 3-symbol equations to measure properties of these worlds, such as density and volume. By leveraging astronomy’s inherent popularity, we hope the course will invigorate traditionally less engaging material, enhancing pupil/teacher subject knowledge and improving pupil outcomes.
The ULiS partnership produced self-contained resources including lesson plans, presentations, homework and outlines for practicals. These are publically available for any teachers interested in delivering the course. This talk explores best practice learned from combining research with national curriculum science.


13:30 - 15:00