The ideas S2-S4
To study road safety and make what is learnt in school science relevant by finding ways in which it is used in real life situations. Too many of our students have been killed due to poor driving, and we want to reduce this number. It was decided to partner the traffic police. They were so helpful in sharing their knowledge. The students got to see the crash from the point of view of the police Investigators and it brought home the damage caused by road accidents.
A road crash (1/3 scale) was laid out in the school. Students had to take measurements, complete calculations and read witness statements to determine the circumstances surrounding the crash. This showed students how science is used in crash investigations, how crashes occur and how students can be safer on our roads. Students investigated how to reduce the likelihood of a crash and how they are likely to get caught if they were at fault in an incident. It makes the science they study in the classroom relevant and teaches health and wellbeing.
- We worked with the Dumfries and Galloway Police Traffic Division who put together an amazing set of resources (which we have shared on this website), of some real life road crashes which had been anonomised. Students were then taught about how a crash is investigated by looking at the evidence, taking measurements and following the scientific process. They used the equations of motion to determine the cause. Currently we have two fully simulated crashes but in the next few years it would be amazing if we could increase this, and that as many people as possible use this material in their lessons too. The students found the experience amazing, it made them more aware of road safety and increased their enjoyment of science; to me that is a result. We are learning:
i. How a road crash is investigated and the knowledge to look for key pieces of information to assess for accuracy and to see how it can yield information
ii. To understand and use the scientific process, hypothesising, observing, analysing, evaluating, etc. to determine the cause of a simulated road crash
iii. To work as a team, to use each person’s skills and draw conclusions from evidence
iv. To discover situations where kinematics and dynamics are used in real situations, particularly the use of maths at 16+
v. To use the equations of motion in real life contexts and understand they can be used to draw conclusions from accidents
vi. To work collaboratively with outside agencies, to understand their job, to see science used in crash investigations and to question scientists about their work
vii. To be safe road users and to have a better understanding of how to drive safely
viii. To take witness statements and to find out if these fit with the evidence at the scene of the incident
ix. To have fun through science and use fun and imagination to solve problems
x. To test reactions and find thinking distance, braking and stopping distances and see the effect of road conditions and reaction times on stopping distances
xi. To realise how witnesses are not always reliable when giving a statement due to rationalisation
xii. The students want to share what they have learned in the community.
Student will go through the stages of a real crash investigation which is laid out as a scene with cars and people at 1/3 scale. A police crash Investigator is on hand to take the students through the investigation stages, to learn how the evidence was pieced together and the causes of the accident, especially how the causes were related to inexperience and youth.
In addition it is hoped the students will get excited by the opportunity to use what they are learning in the classroom and extend this to real-life science Investigations.
Both the teacher and a crash investigator will be present during the work.
We will share this project at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition in London where 10,000 people will hear about road safety.
The ideas S5-S6
The students in class S5 and S6 are older students who are learning to drive, have recently passed their test or will soon be learning to drive – so they are in a prime moment to really feel the impact of road safety education. In their class and with the “Be a Road Safety Investigator” programme, which simulates real traffic accidents and puts students in the role of investigator, they have discussed a wide range of issues.
For example, they discussed the need for cars in their rural area, the figures related to car accidents and young drivers (especially boys), and the risks associated with driving in general. They finally decided that they would like to reflect most of all upon key issues regarding road safety and sustainable mobility in the school’s immediate environment and in the community as a whole.
They concluded that the most important messages they needed to communicate were that young drivers do not take into enough consideration that they themselves can be a risk on the roads, and that they need to be more careful when driving by thinking about speed and risk.
The students wanted to get their messages out through a communication campaign aimed at the school and the local community. To do it, they would use information gathered through research and through their experiences with the “Be a Road Safety Investigator” programme.
For the programme, the police took the students through a local car accident that occurred in 2007. Explanations were given of how the events leading up to the crash were pieced together to bring charges to the three young drivers who were involved – one of these drivers had passed their driving test just the day before. They discussed the causes, which made the students carefully consider their own driving and the responsibility of gaining the keys to a car.
At the end, the road crash investigators put up the ages of all the people responsible and when they had passed their tests. This was very hard hitting for the students, since they were of approximately the same age. The students will share their findings and experiences with the public – and their material is also being taken up on a national level to become part of the Scottish standard syllabus! A welcome change in education and a triumph for road safety!
Students are then given an opportunity to put their Physics knowledge to the test and are given two further crashes to identify. Working through the equations of motion they are able to find the cause and effects of the road crash. It is a great way to put the students’ course work into practice and at the same time presenting a powerful road safety message.
The ideas S1-S2
When a TV programme about the problems of rural roads was based on the very roads around Lockerbie Academy, the students and teachers knew they had to do something – and they are. Thanks to a grant from The Royal Society, they’ve been able to set up the ‘Be a Road Crash Investigator’ programme in their school.
In preparation for the programme, the students in class S1 discussed various road safety issues like the need for cars in rural areas, the risks associated with driving, the problem of wanting to be environmentally-friendly but living long distances from shops and buildings, the dangers of speeding, and the problem that students have a poor concept of stopping distance and don’t have much knowledge of road safety in general.
They especially focused on the fact that students at their school generally need to be able to drive around the area as soon as they are old enough, because public transport links are poor. Many students live out on farms in rural areas and they can only get a bus to school and later from school – there are no others all day long.
The students also talked a great deal about the different reasons why rural roads have been shown to be some of the most dangerous. In the last few years, they have lost too many students to fatal car accidents – about one person each year.
The students appreciate that they’ve had the good fortune to be able to take part in the “Be a Road Safety Investigator” programme, so they wanted to organize their own awareness-raising initiative to share what they are learning with others in their community.
The knowledge they are gaining is very unique. The ‘Be a Road Crash Investigator’ programme brings road crash investigators into the classroom, and brings students to the scenes of local accidents – almost. The investigator and his team use high tech equipment to re-create crash sites of real accidents that happened in the area, complete with tire skid marks are video recorded testimonies of the “witnesses”. Then he works with the students to go through the entire process of collecting evidence, analyzing it, and piecing it together to determine how the accident happened, and why. Often times, the cause is related to inexperience and youthfulness, creating a powerful impact on the students.
They will later share their experiences through the awareness raising campaign, which will begin once students have been through several accident simulations and have acquired enough information and experience to offer really valuable insight. Then they will be able to take what they’ve learned to public events to get others involved. Through the campaign, they would most of all like to share the message that everyone needs to be responsible for their actions on the road and drive more carefully.