Is my grade 9 an A*? Making sense of science qualification reforms

Over the last few years teachers and students in England have seen significant changes to A Levels and GCSEs in the sciences as reformed qualifications have been phased in.

The cohort receiving GCSE awards on Thursday 23rd will be the first to have studied the new biology and combined science GCSEs, graded on a 9 to 1 scale.

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What exactly is the Industrial Strategy?

Despite the hot weather there was “standing room only for science” according to Chi Onwurah MP at the 30th anniversary of Parliamentary Links Day, the 10th event in this series to be opened by Speaker of the House of Commons Rt Hon John Bercow MP.

This year’s theme was Science and the Industrial Strategy and the room was abuzz and full to capacity: Prime Minister Theresa May sent remarks and congratulations on the timely theme, and importance of this event on the Parliamentary calendar. Read more »

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Interning with the RSB science policy team

When an email dropped into my inbox advertising the opportunity to undertake an RCUK policy internship, I was initially apprehensive about applying.

I wasn’t sure what policy work would entail, I knew little about the RSB, I wasn’t sure if I’d like to live in London and I was unsure if I’d be able to take three months away from my PhD. What would my supervisor think?

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An LGBT+ champion: Professor Ben Barres, one of the first transgender neuroscientists

The first international day for LGBTQ+ scientists in STEM aims to be a celebration of diversity in science. Organised by Pride in STEM, House of STEM, InterEngineering and oSTEM, the day is the first of its kind to celebrate the LGBT+ community across all the sciences.

The important goal of the organisers and supporters – among them, the Royal Society of Biology of which I am proud member – is to recognise scientists who identify themselves as LGBTQ+ within the STEM community.

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School biology – a future biology curriculum

At the last Policy Lunchbox we welcomed Michael Reiss, professor of science education at the UCL Institute of Education, to discuss the future of the school science curriculum.

Professor Michael Reiss’ talk looked at the key components of a science curriculum and learning about biology, as well as the aspects we might consider for future reforms to the biology curriculum.
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The Biologist says goodbye to plastic wrap

This week, when unwrapping your lovely new edition of The Biologist, you might notice a slight difference: the clear protective polythene wrap has been replaced with a milky, biodegradable envelope. This fully compostable biopolymer, known as Mater-Bi,  is composed of natural corn starch and vegetable oils. We will no longer use polythene, which is only sporadically recycled by UK councils. Read more »

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Top tips for an Athena SWAN application

Following our workshop in March, we asked attendees for feedback on the challenge of applying for an Athena SWAN award, and what advice they could give to future applications. I’ve collected these into three ‘top tips’ for those considering an application.

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Athena SWAN applications: Turning data into action

The importance of data in preparing an Athena SWAN application was one of the key messages to the delegates at our Athena SWAN workshop, held in March.

Our speakers all agreed on the importance of obtaining good diversity data – both quantitative and qualitative – as a basis for any departmental or institutional Athena SWAN award application.

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Adding folic acid to your flour

The early days and weeks following conception are critical to human life. During this period an embryo goes from being a tiny ball of identical cells to a complex array of specialised cells and structures, ready to develop into the organs that will support life.

The formation of the spinal cord and brain occurs during the first 28 days of pregnancy as a flattened sheet of cells curls up to form a cylinder called the neural tube. From this tube the brain begins to develop at one end, and at the other, the spinal cord forms. In one or two of every 1000 pregnancies this formation doesn’t happen properly, and produces a neural tube defect (NTD).

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Using citizen science to understand more about house spiders

Citizen science describes projects whereby members of the public work with researchers to provide useful and interesting scientific data. In the last five years or so, the approach has seen a big growth in all sorts of areas of science.
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