Monday, July 28, 2014

Showing children industry to help them understand science in context and as a route to a career really works

The long summer holiday is not the time to be thinking about next term’s science work!

However – in a broader sense it may be a good idea to think in the round about helping your school to interact with science in a more useful and meaningful way for the children. At CIEC the long running Children Challenging Industry project has been shown to increase understanding of scientific principles, understanding of how science is happening in industry and how many jobs there are in the scientific industries.

The Children Challenging Industry project involves one of our Advisory Teachers going into schools and delivering science activities with an industrial context. The last session involves a site visit to a local industry. The lessons in school are always very enjoyable for the children – and importantly very much appreciated by the teacher who is able to observe (and join in!) an experienced primary science teacher in action.

The whole experience is remembered positively by the children many years after the event and it is often the site visit that is remembered most fondly.

Below are some comments collated by Advisory Teacher Jenny Harvey following a visit by St John the Evangelist RC Primary School, Billingham, to the Johnson Matthey site in Billingham.

The thing that you enjoyed doing the most;

The experiments

I enjoyed learning more things about industry and doing all the experiments. I felt very professional

The liquid nitrogen

Was when he put liquid nitrogen on the floor and it turned straight away into a gas

Going to Johnson Matthey. I especially liked the nitrogen gas

I enjoyed doing experiments and learning about catalysts and how important industry is

I have learnt many new things at Johnson Matthey and it has given me a great interest in science. I had lots of fun here

Filling the balloon with coke

I enjoyed the part where the balloon was popped with diet cola

I really liked talking about catalysts

I found it a treat that we were allowed in to see how they make stuff



The thing that you enjoyed doing the least;


Nothing, it was fantastic

I didn’t enjoy the liquid nitrogen bit that much



It was all fantastic

Nothing I loved everything



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How Industry can make a difference: Children Challenging Industry Celebration Day in the North East

Jenny Harvey, Advisory Teacher for the North East, hosted her first Children Challenging Industry (CCI) Celebration Event on the 1st July at the Wilton Centre, Redcar.

Leilla Elliott of the Cleveland Scientific Institute with children from  Billingham South Primary School
Mark Kenrick, CEO of LOTTE Chemical UK, opened the event by passionately endorsing Children Challenging Industry, stating the benefits to the teachers, children and the companies involved in hosting the visits. Jenny talked about the CCI project, what it involves and how it is implemented and all her statistics for the year (including the number of children, teachers and schools involved). Pupils from Mill Lane Primary School spoke about CCI in their own words and Dr Stan Higgins, NEPIC, closed the speakers by presenting some facts and figures about the impact and benefits of CCI across Teesside. There was a positive buzz of excitement all around and five new bookings were made and interest from new companies voiced.

Children from five different primary schools (Billingham South Primary School, Breckon Hill Primary School, Mill Lane Primary School, St Helens Primary School and St Therese of Lisieux RC School) who have already experienced CCI demonstrated various CCI activities on different tables.  Four companies exhibited; Chemoxy International, Johnson Matthey, TTE and Spearhead Interactive. Sembcorp had a display of photographs from a CCI visit.

In all sixty seven people attended the day. Jenny was delighted, “It was great to have speakers like Stan Higgins and Mark Kenrick to enthuse new companies about CCI and to have so many pupils here to show CCI in action.”

Monday, June 30, 2014

How can we engage less priveliged children with education in general and science in particular?

Quit a bit of research lately seems to show that the underprivileged indigenous population are falling behind in their educational attainments when compared with other underprivileged groups - with boys also lagging behind girls. How can we engage these children and get them interested in improving their life chances?
One of the classic educational tools is using 'learning by doing' - something CIEC has proved can improve science attainment .
All CIEC activities are context based - so why not try Turf Troubles  ?
Turf Troubles investigates the best conditions for growing grass suitable for a sports pitch. Tie this work to the World Cup/Wimbledon/golf/whichever sport your children like!
Turf Troubles
A sports company wish to provide a turf surface at a sports ground suitable for a range of activities. Information is required on suitable grass types and the best growing conditions. They also need to know how much water will be needed, and the effects of soil type. By investigating various conditions of plant growth the children discover which will produce the best grass.

For children aged 7-9

Monday, June 16, 2014

Johnson Matthey appreciate the importance of encouraging young scientists into industry

Pupils from St Marys RC Primary school, Royston, taking part in a soot filtration demonstration at the Johnson Matthey site at Royston
Congratulations to Adel Neale and Debbie McGarrity who were part of the winning entry in the
 ‘People and community development collaboration’ category in Johnson Matthey’s Collaboration in Action Awards. They were nominated for their involvement with the Children Challenging Industry programme now running in the Hertfordshire Johnson Matthey site. They have been working with the CIEC Advisory Teacher for Hertfordshire, Clare Warren. Clare delivers the CCI lessons in school before the children visit the JM site at Royston. So far being involved in CCI has enabled JM to introduce 300 school children to science and industry. Johnson Matthey’s Chief Executive Robert Macleod was delighted that JM is reaching so many primary children because ‘collaboration is a key part of Johnson Matthey’s business strategy as we enter our third century ‘and he sent his congratulations to Adel and Debbie.  

 Johnson Matthey is also involved with CCI in the North East where Jenny Harvey, CIEC Advisory Teacher for the North East, organises site visits by local children to the Billingham JM site as part of their CCI involvement.


Children from Billingham South Primary School visiting the local Johnson Matthey site after working on Water for Industry in school

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to use water to de-mystify science and industry!

Children from Billingham South Primary School constructing a heat exchanger in school

Getting primary age children to focus on a career may seem like a tall order - but given the need for skilled employees in the science industries it makes a lot of sense.

A recent article in Process Engineering Magazine ‘Skills shortages are a number one concern’ included the following points:

 “Skills shortages are now the no. 1 issue for the process industries worldwide, industry leaders report. The problems, they say, are most acute in countries which have, over recent times, reduced their focus on manufacturing.”
Science can seem a little mysterious to young children, and often primary teachers have no science background which compounds the idea that science is 'difficult'. By using science materials that are context based and using everyday materials (what could be more basic than water) it is easy and enjoyable to introduce primary children to the excitement and possibilities of both science in school and beyond.
Using the CIEC resource 'Water for Industry' children see how important water is to the process industries whilst investigating corrosion and constructing their own heat exchanger out of a plastic drinks bottle!
By following a 'water cycle' from a reservoir, through an industrial site where it is treated, used as cooling water, and treated again before being returned to a river, the children investigate corrosion of materials, filtration techniques, heat exchange and carry out an extension activity on pH adjustment to regulate the acidity of the water.

Download Water for Industry (free) from the CIEC site

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tom Swan is awarded a Morrell Fellowship at The University of York

Tom Swan receiving his Morrell Fellowship at The University of York.
Also pictured with Tom Swan from left: Harry Swan (MD of Thomas Swan), Joy Parvin  and Gayle Pook.
Tom Swan’s huge support for CIEC and the Children Challenging Industry project has been instrumental in their continuing success over the last 18 years. He is a passionate believer in educating everyone about the importance of science and the scientific industries and in particular to educate and inform the new generation who will work in these industries. He has recently been honoured with a Morrell Fellowship from the University of York.

Named in memory of John Bowes Morrell who was at the forefront of the campaign to create a university in York, the Morrell Fellowships are a means of recognising the community of benefactors who have made the most significant contributions to the fabric and life of the University.

The following is part of the citation delivered at the ceremony:

Tom Swan is the chairman of Thomas Swan & Co, from Consett, County Durham, which was listed as one of the Top 20 World Innovators by a leading American publication - this is a remarkable achievement for a family run UK company.

In the 1980s, Thomas Swan expanded into semiconductors, fungicides and new techniques for metal coating which removed the need to use to dangerous solvents - this early recognition of the need to move to environmentally friendly processes won the company the 2003 Chemical Industries Association Green Chemical Technology award.

Over the years, Tom has chaired many commissions, associations and advisory bodies, including being elected World President of the Society of Chemical Industry. 

One of Tom's passions is to educate the general population, and the future workforce, as to the benefits of science in general and the chemical industry in particular.  This passion drew him to York in 1996. 

Working with CIEC led to development of the "Children Challenging Industry" programme.  As part of the programme children visit industry sites and this has a significant impact in changing their views of science.  Feedback from children and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive with comments such as “It was a fantastic tour.  I want to work here when I’m older!” and “I enjoyed all the activities hugely.  It has made me think a lot more about science and how important it is.”   

With Tom's generous support over the last 18 years this programme has enabled 35,000 primary children and 10,000 teachers from 1250 schools to interact with the chemical industry.

Since 1996 Tom has been active in all that CIEC does, giving his personal time as well as financial support.  It is therefore with significant gratitude and pride that the University of York recognises Tom Swan as a Morrell Fellow. 


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Want girls to go into STEM careers? Dorothy Hodgkin is a great example from the recent past.

A recent report by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) says women, disabled people and ethnic minorities are all under-represented in the STEM industries. Apparently girls (or their parents) are more likely to choose medicine, law or teaching if they enjoy science rather than careers in science, construction and engineering.

Here at York we are very proud that Dorothy Hodgkin, the crystallographer who discovered the structure of insulin, spent so much of her 'retirement' in the Chemistry Department working with Guy and Eleanor Dodson and their colleagues. Dorothy would have been 104 yesterday.

Dorothy Hodgkin was born in 1910 and studied chemistry at Oxford which launched a stellar career during which she confirmed the structure of penicillin, discovered the structure of vitamin B12 followed by the structure of insulin. In 1964 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry.

During this time Dorothy also married and had three children - a role model indeed for anyone who thinks a career in science is not for them. After all - during the early '30s it was not usual for young women to study science and certainly most unusual to carve out a world class career.

The Dorothy Hodgkin building at The University of York

Dorothy Hodgkin and Guy Dodson at York