Year 11 GCSE Psychology VisittoThe Natural History Museum
The Human Biology Exhibition
After attending this exhibition myself earlier in the summer I was made aware the many links to the GCSE Psychology specification. The following topics were covered throughout the biological section.
During this tour students were given an ‘Explore and Discover’ leaflet on ‘Nerves and Hormones’. This was bought for the students out of the Psychology budget. This attractive and stimulating leaflet questioned students on their Psychological/Scientific knowledge. Some students found this quite challenging and had some excellent discussions.
Students were highly interested in this part of the trip and were discussing many of the different theories and topics learnt during lesson time. It was brilliant to see such enthusiasm and thirst for Psychology and Science.
Here are some of their thoughts:
"I enjoyed the memory part of the museum as it was well explained and had different examples on how to remember certain things, such as a sound or an image, we couldn't also interact with a modem to demonstrate this. On the perception bit of the museum it explained how we actually see with our eyes which is helpful as it's on our course."
"I thought that the trip helped me understand how psychology is actually linked to evolution and it made me realise how much psychology connects to everything that happens to us biologically."
"The trip to the Natural History Museum helped me gain a better knowledge of GCSE Psychology and how it links to our human lives. I now have a clearer understanding of human biology which can enhance my answers in the B541 Sex and Gender paper. We completed an activity on nerves and hormones, which was useful and insightful for A Level Psychology."
The Human Evolution Workshop - Analysing the Evidence
The students took part in a trial workshop: Human Evolution: analysing the evidence. This was a hands-on workshop which challenged the students to explore the evolutionary relationships between present day humans and ancient humans (collectively known as hominins) using some of the same techniques employed by scientists studying human evolution; observation-based comparative anatomy and quantitative comparisons using cranial measurements.
The workshop offered the opportunity to engage with the rapidly changing and sometimes controversial nature of evidence in this field of research, exemplifying work of scientists from the NHM’s Human Origins Project as well as the work of palaeoartists who work to bring fossils back to life through scientifically accurate reconstructions.
Students were given time to recap their knowledge about evolution while they learned about comparative anatomy through comparing present day human, mammal and reptile skulls to explore the concepts of relatedness and common ancestry through observing and collecting evidence of similarities and differences. They then worked in groups to apply the same technique to investigate casts of fossil hominin skulls and make predictions of relatedness between them.
After discussing the limitations of purely qualitative comparative anatomy, students learned how to make cranial measurements and work in groups to collect data that will enable them to compare properties of the skulls graphically and to draw evidence-based conclusions.
From the data collected the students were able to make suggestions about the relationship between these human species and how these findings have informed one of the current theories that explain the origin of our species.
Again, here are some of the students’ thoughts:
"The information for evolutionary aspects was explained well in the effects of hormones which was demonstrated with life size models of male and female it explained where certain hormones are produced and what is the different between the genders. This helped me understand gender roles; females being maternal whereas men and more physical."
Cross Curricular Links
This visit was extremely beneficial as it outlined several cross curricular links. Students were drawing on different subjects in school and were surprised at the wide transmission Psychology has. The more obvious links included Science and Mathematics; where students were using averages and developing their knowledge of many different scientific concepts. Further to this, we were watching a video which focussed on the conception of a new life and the journey it takes before birth. A few students had an extensive conversation about the morality of abortion and when life becomes ‘life’. Each student in this conversation was able to draw clear links between this discussion and what they are currently learning in Religious Education. I was pleased that all students had the ability to discuss different concepts and were able to successfully understand the wider context of Psychology.