All the world’s a stage… for lessons

At the GDST, education extends beyond the classroom to inspiring UK institutions. 

gdst girl

The scientist adjusted her safety goggles and stood well back just before an explosion rocked the lab – much to 11-year old Mali’s delight (above). In lockdown, it sometimes felt like every day was the same. But this was something new and exciting. Taking part in the Royal Institution’s (RI) online science workshop was just as good as being there in person.

Going on trips to the RI and Shakespeare’s Globe are a long-standing and collaborative tradition for the 25 schools of the GDST and its partner schools. So when lockdown hit, the GDST was keen to make sure that nobody missed out on these experiences. Working with the RI and the Globe, it ensured that both GDST and partnership school pupils could still take part in fun activities, science experiments and amazing shows from home.

“Science is one of my favourite subjects, and chemistry in particular, because it’s just cool,” says Mali, a pupil at Sydenham High School and one of 1,600 junior pupils who watched the workshop. “They showed us a trick where you put water in a cup and put it in the sun, and it reflects and creates a rainbow. I was so pumped to do that, I ran downstairs to find a cup as soon as the webinar had finished. I also liked the experiments where they
mixed chemicals together and they reacted to make all these beautiful colours.”


“Now, thanks to the online experiences, every girl can have a front-row seat, no matter how old they are or where they live”


Before the pandemic, only a small number of juniors would get the chance to see these institutions up close. “Now, thanks to the online experiences,
every girl can have a front-row seat, no matter how old they are or where they live,” says Will Wareing, deputy director of education at the GDST.

Wareing says he’ll never forget the impact of those interactive sessions. “When we first saw scientists Dani Zelli and Jemma Naumann in their lab,
the pupils were so excited that they practically broke the chat window! At the Globe, the girls were transfixed by a storytelling of Macbeth, as Macduff advances on Macbeth in the final scene.”

sydenham gdstThis interactivity was key to the success of the Globe’s workshops, for which actors used everyday props to bring Shakespeare’s plays alive for the GDST pupils and their partnership schools. Tamsin, a nine-year-old pupil at Shrewsbury High School (left), loves drama – she’s performing in her school production of Cinderella Rockefella. Watching seasoned Globe actor and director Scott Brooksbank tell the story of A Winter’s Tale has given her plenty of inspiration.

“My favourite bit was when we had to find a prop for when the shepherd climbs up the mountain,” she says. “We were all running around our houses with hats and sunglasses. I liked that we could join in and take part in the story, ask questions and share ideas. And we got to explore backstage with their interactive website as well, which was brilliant.”

Wareing is hoping to bring this kind of learning to as many girls as possible. “We now have this wonderful new world of inclusive, virtual experiences to supercharge the girls’ learning and discover new things.”

First published in The Times on 23rd May 2021

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