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Maxwell Hamilton describes how we challenged ourselves to reflect on the everyday examples, and the language we used in content we created for BBC Bitesize Daily as part of Science Week. He shares how we worked to make the content relevant to the audience of at home students.

As the country went into lockdown, millions of children were suddenly required to be home-schooled. To offer support to parents and teachers BBC rolled out Bitesize Daily – daily fun-packed programmes full of learning and inspiration, for students of all ages, released on iPlayer. We supported Bitesize Daily with the creation of content, utilising our hands-on activities, for Science Week.

We wanted to make sure the content we created was relevant to as diverse an audience as possible and used our engagement reflection points to help guide us throughout the process.

An Explainer on a screen at the BBC filming studios demoing one of our hands-on activities.

How did we challenge the everyday examples and language we used?

Once we had drafted scripts, we looked through them critically and challenged ourselves to re-evaluate the everyday examples we had included. Had we used the most universal examples? Did the examples assume any prior knowledge or experience?

On reflection, we realised that some examples were more relevant to our own experiences, rather than to the experiences of our audience. Taking time to re-evaluate these examples meant we could make changes, and ensure they were relevant to the widest possible audience.

Maxwell Hamilton being filmed in front of a green screen demoing one of our hands-on activities with Sam Nixon in the BBC studios.

What did we do when the everyday examples we used couldn’t have been experienced by all of our audience?

On occasion, it was necessary to refer to situations that not everyone would have experienced, in these instances careful phrasing and use of language allowed us to ensure we didn’t exclude those audiences.

One of these occasions was the explanation of the real world application of the science behind Instant Ice Cream. Originally we shared that salt is spread on roads in freezing weather to make it safe to drive on them. However, we realised that not every family has a car and driving is not something that every young person is necessarily familiar with. Changing the language we used to ‘salt is spread on roads and pavements in freezing weather to make it safe to drive or walk on’ made this example more accessible.

Another adaptation we made was in the programme in which we shared our Make It Fly activity. When asking students to make a paper aeroplane, the original script read ‘why not try making a paper aeroplane taking inspiration from one you have travelled on’. We changed this to say ‘one you have seen’ rather than ‘travelled on’. This opened the activity up to a much wider audience, as many children may not have travelled on an aeroplane, but, almost all will have seen an aeroplane, either physically, or on the television.

An Explainer being filmed in front of a green screen demoing one of our hands-on activities with Mark Rhodes in the BBC studios.

How did we support the development of science knowledge, building on our audiences existing knowledge through the examples and language we used?

Supporting science knowledge was a key part of creating content for Bitesize Daily. Like the everyday examples and thoughtful use of language, scientific concepts needed to be described in a concise and clear manner which invited students to take part. Pitching concepts in a way that assumed little, or no prior knowledge without necessarily ‘dumbing down’ the science proved a challenge. In many cases, relating the activity to examples and content used in the rest of the episode helped contextualise and reinforce the science knowledge which was being presented.

Using information from the appropriate part of the curriculum helped us approach the hands-on activity through the lens of our audience and pitch it at the most appropriate level. It meant that we could build on the audiences existing science knowledge and ensure the language we used was neither too simple, nor offputtingly complex. The use of everyday examples meant the viewers could connect to the content, helping them to relate science to their lives, and broaden their ideas of what science is.

Over the course of Science Week our activities were featured in 30 BBC Bitesize Daily programmes, you can find out more about this and also about the lessons we developed for the learn and revise pages of BBC Bitesize via our bringing science into your living room page on our Learning Resources website.

Challenge yourself: What everyday examples do you use in your practice, can they be made even more accessible to a wider audience? OR Have a look at our engagement reflection points and reflect on your practice, maybe choose one to think further about.

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