We applied to the Outreach Fund to enable us to add capacity to the SENsory Atelier programme to explore the mix of chemistry and art, and to expand our understanding of how utilising creative approaches can enable wider learning.
Atelier Labs was a huge success, working with three sixth-form classes at Nether Hall School, a higher-ability group of students, a mixed-ability class, and a PMLD (profound and multiple learning difficulties) group.
Artist Rachel and outreach assistant Asmaa developed a programme of provocations, which are starting points for learners to access at differentiated levels that tie into complex chemistry concepts. This approach often meant stripping back to our simplest starting point, and making chemical reactions visible to, or touchable by, the young people (for example, with self-inflating balloons with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda).
By using safe and accessible materials, we were able to give the young people agency to explore the materials in their own ways. They experimented with changing the amounts of ingredients used; filling balloons with other materials; and using sensory approaches, including light, touch, sound, and smell. This all made the reactions accessible, particularly for the PMLD learners that rely heavily on experiential learning.