Beverley Crowne, her husband Nicholas and best friend Anne Marie Cooklin from Mill Hill in north London will be delivering jaw dropping, practical science lessons to children in the poorest areas of Mumbai for six weeks in the new year, thanks to Empiribox. Their science package comes complete with equipment, training, lesson plans, schemes of work and assessment tools so that teachers with no specialist science knowledge can deliver inspiring lessons with experiments that children will remember for the rest of their lives.
Empiribox is the brainchild of Dan Sullivan, a former secondary head of science with over 17 years’ experience in teaching and he has been advising Beverley, Nicholas and Anne Marie. He has coached them, given them free places on continual professional development sessions for primary teachers in south London schools and is donating all the science equipment that the group will take to India.
As Empiribox’s founder, Dan, together with managing director David Saul, and commercial director Ivor Tucker, was keen to help because the challenge fits well with their company’s mission to create strong, sustainable and socially inclusive primary school science education across the UK and internationally.
Beverley, Nicholas and Anne Marie are going to India as part of the Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM), a Jewish volunteer-based initiative which provides hunger relief, literacy, numeracy and health services to vulnerable children. The group will spend some weeks working in Mumbai’s Kalwa slum before moving on to the Palghar district, a rural area, delivering exciting sessions from the Empiribox science curriculum to children in around 20 local villages.
“We were daunted at first,” said Beverley, “Especially when we realised that we had so little science knowledge and would be working in classrooms with no electricity or water, teaching children who had never had a science lesson in their lives.” But they have all been delighted by the support they have received. Gailarde, an Elstree company providing household textiles for industry, hotels and ships, has offered to make sure that the Empiribox science equipment reaches Mumbai in one piece.
The trio spent an afternoon at Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School on December 7 putting their new-found knowledge and skills to the test with children from years 4, 5 and 6 as they taught them about potential and kinetic energy through a series of exciting activities. The children spent the lesson devising trials for springy toys, rolling ball bearings down a runway and experimenting with different lengths and weights to see how they affected the swing of a pendulum. Teachers at Etz Chaim commented that children were enthusiastic and engaged and the new teachers enjoyed it too.
“Empiribox is fun and exciting for children,” said Anne Marie. “I remember finding science dull at school, but all the interaction and practical sessions spark an enthusiasm for science and scientific thinking. It’s like a magic show that enthrals the pupils.”