Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Showing primary children industry in action is fun and improves science understanding!


A recent site visit by Fowlmere Primary School, Royston, to the local Johnson Matthey site on 24th June demonstrated how engaged the children were by what they had seen and the science they had been shown.

The site visit followed class science activities with  CIEC Advisory Teacher Clare Warren. During the site visit the children saw some of the science they had learned about in school in action at Johnson Matthey.

Here are some comments made by the children following the visit:

What the children said:
“I did like learning more things.”
“I enjoyed learning how to make catalyst cover.”
“I enjoyed working in different groups.”
“I enjoyed making the washcoat experiment with ketchup.  I also like seeing the robots working downstairs.”
“I didn’t like my group but did enjoy learning how to make stuff.”
“Science is one of my favourite subjects and I enjoyed everything.”
“I enjoyed the project because it was something different.”
“Science is one of my favourite subjects and I really enjoyed the trip so thank you very much.”

In response to what did you enjoy the most:
“Visiting the site; learning a lot about catalytic converters in vehicles.”
“Having the tour and making the soap.”
“Making and testing our bubble recipes.”
“Doing the salt experiment.”
“Doing experiments in class.”
“Is doing all the experiments that we don’t often do at school.”
“I enjoyed sucking up the ketchup.  Also I like doing the washcoat.”
“Visiting the site.  Holding a catalyst.”
In response to what did you enjoy the least:

“Never sitting down!”
“I enjoyed everything.”
“Climbing up the long, big stairs!”
“Making the soap.”
“I think the bubble experiment wasn’t very sciencey!”
“Look at cars.”


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Joy Parvin represented CIEC at 2015 International Science Education Symposium

Joy delivering her session entitled Linking Science and Technology via Industry Contexts


Joy Parvin, Co-Director of CIEC, was invited to speak at the 2015 International Science Education Symposium in Nanjing, China.  Joy and Derek Bell were the only two speakers from the UK.
Joy talked about the importance of making science relevant to pupils by setting it in industrial contexts.  The international audience were particularly interested in CIEC’s post 16 online resource The Essential Chemical Industry which gives worldwide information on manufacture, uses and production figures of the most widely used industrial chemicals. There was also interest in one of CIECs most popular primary resources, The Science of Healthy Skin, which is currently being translated into Mandarin.  Joy was able to demonstrate how CIEC sets science concepts in real industrial contexts using these online resources and associated practical science investigations.

Joy felt that the CIEC contribution was well received, “Being invited to speak at the symposium enabled CIEC to reach a wider Chinese audience. Another delegation of teachers/science educators from major cities in China is returning to York later this year for both primary and secondary training thus strengthening the York-Nanjing working relationship”.

Joy with Derek Bell (second from the left) at one of the sessions

Monday, June 8, 2015

Inspiring Science in the Outdoor Classroom at ASE Primary Science Conference on 30th June

What are these teachers doing? See below...

I am really looking forward to attending the Annual Primary Science Conference this year.  As well as presenting my own session, I will have the opportunity to attend some of the other sessions and I know that I will learn a lot.  I was especially excited to see that Anne Goldsworthy will be providing the key note lecture as well as another session for, although I have read much that she has written, I have never actually seen her in person.  I have however heard extremely good reports.


My own session “Inspiring Science in the Outdoor Classroom” will be based outside (whatever the weather) as I believe that the outdoors is the most under used resource in our schools.  As teachers we expend so much energy inspiring our pupils, providing worthwhile cross curricular activities and opportunities for learning when, if we know how to access it, Mother Nature has already done much of the work for us!  There are motivating contexts for all types of science enquiry, a wealth of material for measuring and data handling and real reasons for writing.  Moreover, challenging behaviour is generally less of an issue as children are motivated and engaged; they also appreciate the greater sense of freedom that being outside gives.  Although my session will be aimed at Early Years and Key Stage 1, well behaved Key Stage 2 teaches will be welcome to join us, and might even find something to inspire them too!

Answer: Building a fairy house!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Exciting Science Activities for Early Years and Key Stage One

One of Nicky's KS1 activities

The Annual Primary Science Conference held at the National Science Learning Centre, York, is always a highlight in my academic diary. I have been there, without fail, for many years now both as a participant and as a presenter and I will be networking in both of these guises on Tuesday 30thJune this year. The session I have decided to offer as ‘Option F’ in a superb list of choices is one I have titled ‘Exciting Science Activities for Early Years and Key Stage One’. I chose to offer this because, as an experienced primary school teacher, I have taught children in Key Stage Two for the majority of my career, however, after having my own children, I seem to have experienced a personal epiphany in just how wonderful and rewarding planning and teaching science activities for the youngest children in school can be. I also believe that sessions for Early Years and Key Stage One teachers can often be under represented at conferences and events and I wanted to do something to attempt to redress the balance.

My workshop will be practical, whereby you can try out a range of carefully planned, tried and tested science activities either created for or adapted to suit children in Early Years and Key Stage One. I have put a real emphasis on the ‘tried and tested’ aspect of the session, as I believe it is of the utmost importance that every activity I bring ‘to the table’ has been actually been carried out by me, in the classroom with children of the relevant age range. In many of my recent experiences, I have learnt from mistakes, evaluated and adapted ideas that I thought or presumed would work but quite clearly required rethinking or improving. I have built up a bank of science lessons and activities that really do work, I am proud of the resulting product and I am looking forward to sharing these with you on the day.

By Nicola Waller, CIEC Advisory Teacher for the North East


Nicky at a recent CIEC event



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CIEC host an open afternoon for University Colleagues


CIEC have been part of the Chemistry department at The University of York since it was set up in 1988. However, in that time CIEC has had several locations – some not on the central Chemistry site.
Now CIEC is back in the heart of the department it seemed the right time to throw an Open Afternoon so our Chemistry colleagues and colleagues from other departments could visit us, meet the team and have a go at some of our best known activities!


Gayle Pook and Joy Parvin were on hand to explain how we operate to visitors from other departments who may not be so familiar with our work whilst the team of Advisory Teachers demonstrated some of the primary science activities being carried out in primary schools around the country.
Joy with Jacqui Hamilton (Atmospheric Chemistry)…
…and enjoying a tea break with Emeritus Professor Bruce Gilbert (Chemistry)
Jane (left) with Gayle
Nicky Waller demonstrated a bubble-blowing activity from CIEC’s resource Kitchen Concoctions, Clare Warren was busy with a viscosity activity from Runny Liquids and Jane Winter hosted sand castle making from the Key Stage One resource Pencils, Poems andPrincesses. Saleesh Kumar was on hand to show off one of the new Liquid Crystal activities which have been developed by CIEC with Duncan Bruce and Saleesh Kumar (Chemistry Department, York) to be piloted in York primary schools later this term.
Clare (left) explaining Runny Liquids to Katrina Bakker (right)
Jane (right) supervising sand castle building with (from left) Adrian Harrison (Biology), Annie Hodgson, Duncan Bruce, Saleesh Kumar and Kirsty Penkman
The sand pit was a big success!
Saleesh discussing liquid crystals with Liz Swinbank (Education)
Nicky showing some children’s work to Bruce Gilbert
Joy was delighted with the event; “It has been a great opportunity to meet colleagues from Chemistry and other departments and show them what we do for primary science. Our strategy is to contextualise science for primary and secondary pupils, and to make credible connections between school science and the science that takes place in industry and higher education. Involving our colleagues with CIEC activities has hopefully demonstrated how we achieve this”.

Monday, April 13, 2015

SABIC host successful Children Challenging Industry visits for 12 years!

Kirklevington Primary School at SABIC

Kirklevington Primary School visited SABIC on 5th March and met Janet Jones who was hosting the visit. Janet loves inspiring young people. As a female worker in Industry, she feels it is important to empower girls to realise that working in industry is as accessible to them as it is to boys.

Janet Jones said, “The CCI programme offers primary children the opportunity to see our industry first hand.  The children ask fantastic questions and I am amazed at how quickly the time goes when they are with us.  I like to think that during their visit we inspire them to consider working in our industry, even though that decision is a long way off.”

The programme is so well developed now that it is literally ‘off the shelf’. Take a box out, check the equipment and use it - simplicity with minimum preparation. Janet recruited Joanna Bartlett, a Process Engineer, to assist with this visit - she is young, enthusiastic, female and has a Chemical Engineering Masters to her name! Janet has worked for the company for 31 years and she always presents to the children in a fun, relaxed ‘I really enjoy this job’ kind of way. This is exactly what we need to encourage the children to take more interest in Science. The local paper turned up and Janet took it in her stride, smiling through her ‘child friendly’ introduction to the company and sparking up interest without boring them with too much detail. The children quickly became engaged with the activities and had a tour around the site allowing them to see for themselves what it is like.
Enjoying one of the activities

The teachers, Mrs Johnstone and Mr Morgan said “The Children Challenging Industry sessions and the visit to SABIC were extremely enjoyable for both the children and the staff. The trip to SABIC opened the eyes of the children to science in the real world and inspired them by showing them how to be more investigative in their thought processes.
We would like to say a big thank you to SABIC for their continuous support and contributions to the project.”

By Jenny Harvey, CIEC Advisory Teacher in the North East

Monday, March 16, 2015

Industry visits improve children’s perceptions of industry

A Greneway pupil inspecting substrate during the Johnson Matthey site visit

In February 2015 pupils from Greneway Middle school, Royston, visited the Johnson Matthey site at Royston as the culmination of their Children Challenging Industry (CCI) experience. During their visit the children visited the Technology Centre to find out what catalysts are and what they do and made their own wash coats (the active part of the catalyst). This was followed by a tour of the site where they saw robots applying wash coat to the substrate.
The visit demonstrated how their school activities (the process of developing a good bubble mixture had much in common with the development and testing of wash coats) were directly related to work on the site.
A recent report on the impact of the CCI project in Royston schools demonstrated that children who are shown how science works in the ‘real world’ (in this case in industry) show a greater understanding of science and the possibility that they could have a future career using science.
Teachers taking part in CCI reported the greatest impact as being:
·         Improvement of children’s investigative skills and group work
·         Range of teaching ideas and the practical activities
·         The CIEC Advisory Teacher’s expert knowledge of science and the industrial content of the activities.
The majority of teachers felt their knowledge of teaching science had improved, the class sessions linked well to industry, the site visit was an important component of the experience and that they would use the written resources again. The CCI project also fulfilled their expectations.
At the end of the CCI intervention the teachers showed greater understanding of the interesting jobs available in industry and the economic benefits of industry.
Of the children who participated:
·         Over 80% enjoyed the investigations, learned something new and enjoyed the challenges
·         Over 70% liked learning about industry and now like science more.
The activities the Greneway children worked on in school were:

Below are some observations the children made following their visit to the JM site (positive comments far outweigh any negative comments).

What the children said:
 “I liked it all because I was learning new things.”
 “I enjoyed the ketchup bit because it was really fun and they explained it clearly.”
“I liked watching the robots.”
“The robots move like humans.”

In response to what did you enjoy the most:
“seeing the robots and learning what they do and sorting out the catalyst.”
“making the experiment with all of the liquids.”
“seeing the robots sorting out the catalysts.”
“looking at the cars.”

In response to what did you enjoy the least:
“Walking and walking upstairs and apart from that nothing.”

Deb McGarrity, Royston Site and Community Coordinator commented, "The difficulties of attracting young people into careers in science have been well documented in recent years.  From this perspective, I think it is important that schools in our area understand what Johnson Matthey actually does, and how exciting and varied a career in science can be”.