Introduction and background This project will consider ‘Biology in Education: development and evaluation of scientific resources in school’. The research will take place at Dalkeith high school which is a secondary school teaching pupils from the age of 12-17 years. This project will focus on two classes studying biology at national 5 level which has replaced the old intermediate 2/ standard grade credit level and will take up two 45 minute periods alongside a 15 minute brief. The national 5 course studies a range of biology, the key areas developed in the course are as follows: body systems and cells, biodiversity, interdependence and inheritance (SQA, 2015). For this research, topic 3 ‘Life on Earth’ will be considered. The ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ (CfE) was implemented in Scottish schools in 2010 and affects children from the age of 3-18 years old (Brown, 2014) and is thought to be the most significant curricular change in the Scottish education system for a generation (Hedge & MacKenzie, 2016). CfE was developed with the intention to assist students develop the attributes, knowledge and skills, including skills essential for learning, life and work, all of which are required for life in the 21st century (Department for Education, 2014). The CfE system was developed due to the Scottish schooling system facing major challenges including the persistent matter of inequality. Students from low socio-economic status homes and poorer communities have been shown to be more likely to underachieve than others (Henderson, 2010). The Scottish curriculum guidance offers pupils significantly greater opportunities and choice whilst also giving teachers more professional freedom (Henderson, 2010). The ambition of the curriculum is to enable all students to reach their full potential as successful learners, confident and responsible individuals and therefore become effective contributors to society. A key aspect of CfE is the potential for flexibility thus giving Scottish schools the ability to be flexibility and the freedom to think imaginatively on the organisation and planning of students learning in creative and fun ways to promote deep, sustained learning (Henderson, 2010). However, Wallace & Priestley (2017), conducted a study to investigate how Scottish science teachers were responding to the challenges of creating classroom instructions within the context of centrally mandated curriculum innovation. A particular focus was paid to the science curriculum in which teachers were interviewed on their thoughts of the new system. Whilst some were enthusiastic about the changes stating that the course content was more modern which is essential due to science developing rapidly and content being more intellectually engaging. Others were apprehensive about the change and expressed concerns about the need to cut out course content in order to allow time for teaching more practical classes and general academic skills. It was also stated that teaching a class of multi-level ability is challenging as some students may come into the class with the belief that there are students who are more intelligent and so are ‘put-off’ and therefore will not give the lesson their full-attention or participate in the practical. The value of practical work In the United Kingdom, practical work is frequently seen by teachers and others, in particular scientists, as key to the appeal and effectiveness of science education (Abrahams & Millar, 2008). Practical work, including fieldwork, is essential to the teaching of all sciences as it helps pupils to develop their understanding of science, appreciate that science is based on evidence and experience of hands-on skills which are vital if pupils wish to progress in science. Practical work is critical for helping students make the link between observation and ideas. In a study undertaken by Abrahams & Millar (2008) students were asked which biological topics they found the most difficult to learn, the reasoning behind finding these topics hard to learn and the ways in which the students suggested they could learn these topics more effectively. The participants suggested that teachers teach biology through the use of visual materials, linking topics with daily life, making the teaching more interesting and conducting practical experiments. However, there is a need for practical lessons to be relevant to theoretical lectures and a criticisms being that they have no application in real life and therefore students are more likely to forget techniques and the methodology learned (Dopico, Linde, & Garcia-Vazquez, 2014). In order to help students learn and understand how science works it has been suggested that practical classes should be places for learning to discover in other words learning to learn by doing (Dopico, Linde, & Garcia-Vazquez, 2014). Practical based learning has a central role to ecology as it aids in understanding the important and contentious environmental issues (Finn, Maxwell & Calver, 2002). Benefits of using organisms in the classroom Several studies have found that the inclusion of living animals into science classes has a positive and highly motivating influence on pupils and is a more effective method of learning in comparison to alternative teaching methods such as the use of pictures, preserved specimens and educational films. Furthermore, it has been shown that the inclusion of ants for observation in practical classes significantly improved student factual and transfer knowledge. (Sammet & Dreesmann, 2017). It has also been shown that pupils abilities to classify animals as vertebrate or invertebrate has been found to be weak and so the inclusion of animals in practicals to increase their knowledge and experience of different species of organisms is vital (Dopico, Linde, & Garcia-Vazquez, 2014). Psychological studies have shown the significance of emotions in both learning and performance, something which has been described as being overlooked in biology education and that including animals into practical classes evoke positive emotions and thereby positively influence learning and achievement processes (Dopico, Linde, & Garcia-Vazquez, 2014).Freshwater Indicator species Indicator species are living organisms that are easily monitored and whose status reflects or predicts the environmental state of their habitat (Siddig, Ellison, Ochs, Villar-Leeman, & Lau, 2016). Indicator species that occur naturally, like those present in freshwater, can be utilised to assess the health of the environment and to detect changes (positive or negative) in the environment. The utilisation of indicator species can help to predict level of contamination, or pollution, in freshwater or the atmosphere and the natural state of a certain region (Parmar, Rawtani & Agrawal, 2016). There are many advantages to using indicator species as they can be easily counted due to their prevalence, they are an economical, feasible alternative compared to other specialized measuring systems, they can provide an early stage diagnosis of any harmful effects of toxins to plants and humans which can be monitored and the grouping or antagonistic impacts of various pollutants on a creature can be monitored. Many strategies to combat global environmental issues such as climate change, habitat loss, pollution/ contamination, disease outbreak and fragmentation have been suggested. However, monitoring indicator species has been one of the most popular suggestions due to Biomonitoring allowing for better-informed and more cost-effective management decisions (Siddig, Ellison, Ochs, Villar-Leeman, & Lau, 2016). Despite the popularity of using indicator species to discover the level of pollution in their habitat there are several limitations to the use this method. The primary limitations being a single population rarely reflect the complexity of an environment, the influence of other biologicals interactions at the community level including predation and parasitism may be overlooked and method of sampling may bias results (Siddig, Ellison, Ochs, Villar-Leeman, & Lau, 2016). Trent biotic index The Trent biotic index was developed in 1964 and uses freshwater organism to test the level of pollution of their habitat (Ravera, O, 2001). It is based on the fact that certain species disappear when conditions are not optimum and the species diversity decreases as the level of organic pollution in the water increases. Knowledge of indicator species is key to using this method for understanding which species thrive in which conditions. Stonefly (Plecoptera), mayfly nymphs (Ephemeroptera), freshwater shrimps (Gammarus pulex) and caddis fly larvae (Trichoptera) may be present in unpolluted water and thus act as indicator species for uncontaminated water. The scale of the index runs from 0 for grossly polluted water, to 15 for the purest water. Scores obtained upstream and downstream of a pollution incident can be used to assess the extent of the damage. If effective action is taken, the scores downstream should return to match those found upstream in the cleaner water. Bloodworm (Glycera), sludgeworm (Tubifex tubifex) and the rat-tailed maggot (Eristalis tenax) are indicators of polluted water. The values of the Trent Biotic index vary between 0 and 10, the lower the score the more tolerant to pollution the organisms is. Aims and objectives Aim 1: To teach both classes of the use of freshwater organism to test the level of pollution in a freshwater source by the use of the Trent Biotic Index. Aim 2: To investigate the difference between two different methods of teaching (practical then textbook based) to discover if one method is better for student memory retention, learning and interest compared to the other method. Objectives: To determine if a practical based class is more beneficial to students when compared to a textbook based class. Additionally, this research will attempt to discover if the use of live animals during class practicals will aid in students learning. Hypothesis: It is predicted that the practical method of teaching will be of more benefit (students will score higher when quizzed on this topic) when compared to a topic which has been taught through the use of a textbook. Methodology This research will involve a theory or textbook lesson partnered with a presentation in which the students of both classes will learn about evolution and speciation, an area of the Life on Earth topic, with the use of examples. The reason for choosing adaptation and speciation is due to it not relating to the practical lesson in any way. Therefore, when using a quiz to evaluate the extent of knowledge on both areas the students have grasped it will be known for definite which method of teaching is optimal for retention of student knowledge. At the end of the theory lesson the students will be given a 15 minute brief on the practical class (monitoring water pollution with invertebrate indicator species) in this brief the reasoning behind the use of invertebrate indicators for testing water pollution will be described alongside the method in which they will use to determine the level of pollution in the river samples. The reasoning behind the brief being presented before the practical is due to research findings showing that ideas have to be introduced to a class before a practical is carried out for effective learning rather than introducing ideas after the practical is complete to account for what has been found (Abrahams & Millar, 2008). To evaluate which method of teaching has been more successful, a series of short questions relating to each of the topics should be completed by the use of an iPad, by each student who participated in both classes. A ‘before and after’ evaluation sheet should also be completed by each participating student. The data gathered to find which teaching method was more successful will be collated from both classes and a two-sample T-test will be performed to compare the two teaching styles.The practical – monitoring water pollution with invertebrate indicator speciesThis method has been guided by the Nuffield Foundation (2011). The samples of freshwater organisms will be obtained by myself to eliminate any risk to students. The method in which the samples were obtained (kick and sweep method) will be described to the students. Field method Equipment required: Net Labelled plastic jars (x30) Safety equipment (life ring/ rope) Protective glovesOne tray (to separate specimens from detritus) Tweezers Pipette droppers Plastic spoonWellie boots Samples will be taken from two areas: Water of Leith and the Union Canal. The samples will be collect by using the kick sample method which is done by kicking the sediment, with a new downstream, for a period of 1 minute. This methods will be repeated in both rivers up to 15 times to ensure there will be enough samples for both classes. Any organisms found will be put in to a labelled jar, which the river in which the sample was collected from written on it, with some water from the river they were found in. Gloves willbe worn throughout sampling and hands washes afterwards to overcome any health and safety risks associated with sampling in a river. Another person will be present throughout the sampling process. In the laboratory I will separate all organisms from any detritus to allow the students to have more time identifying organisms. Again, protective gloves and a laboratory coat will be worn at all times. Classroom practicalEquipment required: Petri dishes Tweezers Pipette droppers Trays (x20 due to students being grouped into 2’s and there being two water sources) Microscopes/ magnifying glassesIdentification keys and books Trent Biotic Index Plastic spoons Protective gloves Students will be divided into groups of 2. They will, gently, pour the contents of the jar (water and organisms) into a tray. They will then use the identification keys/ books and magnifying glasses to identify any species present and then group the organisms into their species in petri dishes containing some water (from the jar) ensuring that the right water goes into the petri dishes with the right organisms. To do this they can use either the plastic spoon, tweezers or pipette droppers of different sizes students will be advised to ask, if unsure, what equipment to use for which species to ensure the organisms are not harmed. Students will be briefed, before any samples are given out, on ethical issues e.g not to harm any of the organisms. Students will also be advised to wear protective gloves before handling any of the equipment and samples.