Monday, August 3, 2015

Scientists and Engineers of the Future: Engaging with Primary Schools. A Celebration Event at Johnson Matthey, Royston

 Scientists, engineers, teachers, children and industry representatives recently came together at Johnson Matthey’s Royston site at the “Scientists and Engineers of the Future:  Engaging with Primary Schools” event.  They celebrated two successful years of this Centre for Industry Education Collaboration (CIEC) project during which over 600 children from local schools have taken part in lessons with industrial links and benefited from meeting scientists and engineers from Johnson Matthey either as part of a site tour or welcoming them in to their school. Johnson Matthey also shared their commitment to expanding the project locally to enable more children to take part in the future.
 Children from Roysia Middle School, Mary’s Catholic Primary School and Fowlmere Primary School demonstrated some of the practical science which they had participated in during the project.  Alongside them, staff from Johnson Matthey demonstrated science activities which children see when visiting the site.  Speakers included Joy Parvin, Director of theCIEC, who spoke about the fact that in 1919 6% of engineers were women and how disappointingly current research shows that 6% figure remains unchanged.
 Clare Warren, Primary Science Advisory Teacher thanked all those at Johnson Matthey, and the teachers and children would have made the project such a great success.  Zoe Linington, Head Teacher at Roysia Middle School, passionately endorsed the project as supporting the next generation of scientists and engineers.  Chris Morgan, Technical Director reinforced why the project is so important to Johnson Matthey and last, but by no means least, children from St Mary’s enthusiastically shared their experience of the project and received the loudest round of applause. 

 Research has shown that while children enjoy science in primary school too few of them aspire to become scientists and views about their career aspirations remain fairly fixed through secondary school.  The recent CBI report Tomorrow’s World identified that there are simply not enough young people pursuing study and careers in these areas.  Through this CIEC initiative,  Johnson Matthey are working hard to change minds and give children positive messages about  potential careers in science or engineering.

Monday, July 13, 2015

CIEC has a big presence at the ASE Primary Science Conference, 30th June 2015 at NSLC

CIEC were well represented at the recent Primary Science Conference held at NSLC, York at the end of June.

Joy Parvin, CIEC Director, was present with two of the CIEC Advisory teachers, Jane Winter and Nicky Waller.

Jane Winter’s session – Science in the Outdoor Classroom – was very popular with the delegates. More than 20 teachers explored ways to use the outside environment to enthuse children about science.  Activities included investigating natural materials and man-made fabrics to find which were suitable to make fairy houses, parachutes and rafts and building a science den out of bamboo canes.

Nicky Waller gave a workshop entitled 'Exciting Science Activities for EYFS and KS1'. Once again the audience were very receptive to all Nicky’s ideas for activities as they were very simple, covered basic science concepts and easy for the non-specialist primary school teacher to carry out with the very youngest scientists in school and help develop children's questioning and observation skills.

The teachers particularly liked ideas for making fossilized dinosaur eggs to hide around the school grounds and then go hunting like palaeontologists in order to carefully uncover what is hiding inside! Another favourite was the variation on the Crafty Crow Aesop's fable whereby children have to help Sylvia the bird reach the water inside the jam jar so that she can have a drink after a long and thirsty flight!

Nicky also gave the plenary keynote address - she outlines her theme below.

The initial title was 'Putting the wow into working scientifically' until I redrafted the title during the actual session to ensure that my message was clear. The new title then read 'Keeping the wow in Working Scientifically' to ensure that teachers are not just using wow science activities shared at conferences, websites, YouTube etc. whereby you have that 'wow' moment with the children but then nothing much more than that. It is crucial that, with every and any science activity we share with the children, the most important aspect of the planning phase is to think carefully about what will the children be able to know, understand or do as a result of this activity and then plan forwards from this point. The way in which we keep this going week after week in all our science lessons is to start with the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum and build from there, ensuring that the skills of working scientifically are deeply embedded in everything we teach. I believe, it is only by doing this that we are allowing the children we teach to become the most super scientists they possibly can be.

In the session, I shared my interpretation of the classic 'kid friendly elephant's toothpaste' activity using an imaginative story about a wise, well-loved King and clever little scientist named Pip who astounded the entire kingdom. We also heard about Clever Colin who made a simple magnifying glass to help the wizard read his magic spells (we even cracked some tiny codes too!) as well as taking part in measuring exercises, the Curly Wurly stretching world record and discovering a way to make giant gummy bears whilst learning about absorption.

Finally, every participant was given a copy of CIEC's new Progression in Working Scientifically from EYFS to Key Stage 3 booklet. Copies of this can be downloaded free from our website.”

An animated Nicky at her plenary session

Joy felt the day had been extremely successful, ‘The annual Primary Science conference is a great place for primary teachers to meet up, exchange good practice and go home full of new ideas. And I’m sure Nicky and Jane gave them plenty of material for next year!’

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”.