Every Thursday, Year 12 Biology students make their way into two classrooms in the science department to give presentations to teachers and their Year 13 peers.Just one of the academic enrichment opportunities available to Senior School students, the presentations can be on any topic they choose (as long as it generally falls under Biology) and are graded on both content and how they are presented.
Head of Biology, Ms Lynda Sharp says these compulsory presentations are integral to her Year 12 students as it is equally essential to be able to convey information to groups as it is to understand the information yourself.
“Although the content presented needs to be interesting, informative and accurate, we want to get students to focus on the presenting side of things as this will give them the confidence to impart information successfully,” She said.
The Year 13 students in the audience are the ones who decide what score out of ten each presenter gets. The grade is based on the clarity of information, the amount of detail in slides vs spoken word, reliance on notes and ability to answer supplemental questions.
On our visit to Biology, two topics were presented; ‘Therapeutic Potential of Gene Silencing by RNA Interference’ by Prin and ‘Preserving Life-saving Livers’ by Gird. Both students scored 8/10, with detailed presentations that could have scored higher if their slides had less detail - information that was ultimately unnecessary for the audience.
Ms Sharp says that despite the presentations occurring in the student’s lunch break, they commit to researching and preparing an exciting lecture. The audience also commits to listening intently and contributing with questions and final scores.
“The Biology department wants students to retain the knowledge we impart in the classroom, but even more importantly, we want them re-interpret topics as well. This shows a real understanding of the subject material and builds confidence for public speaking - which they will have to do a lot of at university.”
It is this focus that both science and other departments across the school have on educating the whole student that ensures Shrewsbury’s GCSE and A-Level grades are the highest in Thailand, year after year.