Travelling through time

by Wendy on July 8, 2014

3 years ago, BEANii started in the front of our living rooms with a few friends, a handful of our children and a passion for their health and happiness.

Last week, we completed our first tour of BEANii Squeers workshops, developed with support from the Wellcome Trust, to nearly 400 Year 4 – 6 students in schools in deprived areas of Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham*.  Children went on a time-travelling adventure in scientific discovery, learning about how the choices that they have and make, impact their health and well-being. 

Evaluation so far of participated children’s knowledge attainment and retention, one week after the workshop, demonstrates 35% uplift. It’s very motivating for us to see the impact of our short, 2 hour, workshop. However, our biggest reward is seeing children’s enjoyment of the learning and excitement in the scientific discovery process. 

As we work to maximise the benefit and reach of our innovative programme to more children, schools and communities, it’s been inspiring to attend the series of thought provoking All Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics meetings, put together by the New Economics Foundation, on how government policy can improve well-being without increasing public expenditure. We are excited about their report that will be published in the fall.

In the fall, I am also excited to be returning to the University of Cambridge, to embark on a part-time MEd. in Psychology programme. The focus of my study and research there will be BEANii.

Exciting times! We are so thankful to all our colleagues, friends, families and donors, who have been with us in the journey so far, and look forward to further advancement and adventures ahead!

*Note: all the participated schools of this tour have over 50% children in receipt of Free School Meals and over 55% English as a Second Language Learners.


by Beth McGregor on April 16, 2014

Having just moved to London to join my husband, I left behind two loves: classroom teaching at a school I loved dearly and my NYC stand-up comedy career. Open to discovering what the surprisingly warm shores of the Thames had to offer, I could not be happier to discover BEANii. With a background as both a performer and a teacher in primary science and theatre classroom education, I feel fortunate to apply my experience in the role of BEANii’s Educational Director.

What excites me most about BEANii is the opportunity to develop and deepen a curriculum that can have an experiential impact for all the students we reach. To do, I look forward to working on two main fronts with our programmes: utilizing the power of drama as a medium for education, and facilitating scientific understanding and discovery among young minds.

Facilitating scientific understanding and discovery among young minds

Aki Murata, my professor during my Masters in Elementary Education at Stanford University is an inspiring and exciting teacher, whose approach I strive to emulate. Despite studying Human Biology as an undergrad at Stanford, it took learning with her to see how good teaching could unlock the adventure of science. Science to her was about discovery and imagination. Science was about guiding students through the known into the unknown, imparting answers, and leaving the kind of lingering questions that made you want to learn even more. I have found teaching science to young kids very gratifying; seeing the student’s eyes light up when science is presented in an intriguing, hands-on way makes all the “backstage” preparations worthwhile. Given the opportunity to sleuth through mysteries, muck through problems posed, and dissect the matter at hand, science becomes more than just a book of stuff to learn. It becomes a whole world in which to wonder and explore. I would thus like to build on BEANii’s success and further develop its innovative approach to excite student learning in bioscience topics and promote long-term knowledge retention. I look forward to training our volunteers in the practices and pedagogy of science communication that will maximize the reach of our programme for children of all abilities and skill levels.

Utilizing the power of drama as a medium for education

Having also majored in drama as an undergraduate, I appreciate the power of meaningful performances. As an educator, I believe that performances can serve as important culminating events that help to crystallize learning. Drama games can teach group awareness and listening skills in ways that worksheets simply can’t (and clearly don’t even attempt to try). Drama can go beyond reprocessing content to become a unique medium for learning and discovery. BEANii’s mission is to enhance students’ scientific understanding through theatre and literature, the dramatic delivery of which can help them not only absorb knowledge, but also employ in living healthier lives. I look forward to fully utilizing drama in helping science come alive both physically and mentally.

Both theatre and science give those who investigate and engage with them the chance to think experimentally about the world, to ask the why and how and if and what that strengthen the analytical and creative brain. Guiding students through both dramatic and scientific paths of discovery is a uniquely gratifying process that I have enjoyed as a classroom teacher, and a huge excitement I have for the work that lies ahead as a BEANii director.

I look forward to drawing upon what I’ve learned, and I look forward to learning a lot in my new role as BEANii Educational Director.


April 12, 2014
Thumbnail image for Celebrate!

 treated our dedicated school teachers and volunteers to some refreshing Prosecco and delicious nibbles, to celebrate the completion and accomplishment of our BEANii Dickens programmes in three primary schools in Westminster this week. Since January and over ten weekly sessions, Years 4 & 5 students in the three schools have taken part in a series of scientific demonstrations and explored, [...]

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Spread the love

February 14, 2014

With Valentine's Day on the horizon, Educational Programme Advisor, Beth McGregor, saw the opportunity for a clear connection to the work BEANii had been doing in the classroom. As such, she designed a custom-made valentine to reinforce some of BEANii's core learning objectives. Integrating three weeks of teaching about how the heart works, the anatomical [...]

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Beatriz and Sophia

February 6, 2014

Beatriz and Sophia go to a school wedged between a cluster of housing estates and an array of shops in an affluent area of South Westminster. You’ll hardly notice the school, small and tugged away, but its gate opens into a warm and friendly environment where each child really matters. In their school, 61.5% children are eligible for free [...]

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LAUNCHED: BEANii Dickens in Westminster schools!

January 17, 2014

A delightful class of children, from St. Peter’s Eaton Square CoE Primary School, arrived at the Old Operating Theatre Museum earlier this week, to mark the beginning of BEANii Dickens for Westminster primary schools this term. BEANii Dickens is a course of 25-hr programme of creative learning workshops leading to the performance of a children’s [...]

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BEANii is recruiting

October 3, 2013

BEANii is looking for three energetic BEANii Dickens Directors to work in the Big BEANii Dickens Outreach Project between Jan – Apr 2014.  This is a great opportunity to direct a children’s theatre show and be part of an educational project that impacts on children’s learning, creativity, confidence, aspiration and health! Applicants with a genuine passion [...]

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WIN 5 pairs of tickets to the Unicorn’s press performance of Henry the Fifth

September 26, 2013

WIN 5 pairs of tickets to the Unicorn’s press performance of Henry the Fifth on Fri 11 October at 7pm. There will be a special reception after the show. ‘This is a genuinely witty introduction to Shakespeare, crafted at every stage with the needs of its young audience in mind.’**** Time Out on  Unicorn's acclaimed [...]

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What will the press say?

June 13, 2013

How exciting! Here's the full press release for our upcoming children theatre show, Harriet and Jake and the Victorian adventure, at the Southwest Fest on the 29th June. Really thankful to the media teams at the Wellcome Trust and Westminster City Council for helping us to prepare and distribute this.            

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April 1, 2013

At the end of the 10-weekly BEANii Dickens drama course we asked the children participants, ‘What have you learnt on the BEANii workshops that could make you healthier?’ Here is what some of the 9 & 10 year-old children think: – Vitamins – Food – Stop eating so much sugar – Not eat too much [...]

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