Monday, February 27, 2023

Making Ripples


The front cover of the Industry at Home resource.  The text is displayed in brightly coloured boxes.  All except the titles 'Industry at Home' and 'Making Ripples' is too small to read.

Making Ripples is free to download from the IndusTRY AT HOME page of the CIEC website.

We have recently been adding to our popular IndusTRY AT HOME resources.  Thanks to funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry five new resources will have ideas for activities that can be done with children as young as three, but which can be enjoyed by the whole family including older children.  Indeed, given that they are accessible to such a wide age range you may be surprised by how engaging (and thought provoking) adults find the activities too!

Concentric circles of ripples on water.

Adults as well as children are likely to fascinated by this simple activity.

For example, the activity ‘Making Ripples’ invites families to take advantage of a bright sunny day to explore the way that ripples move on a tray of water as objects are dropped in, or the surface of the water is touched.  As with other IndusTRY AT HOME activities this activity is easily and cheaply resourced with items from around the home.

A screen shot showing part of the resource.  There is white text in a green box which is too small to read apart from the title 'Career and role play opportunities'.  There is also an image of a tug boat.

An extract from the IndusTRY AT HOME resource ‘Making Ripples’

There is also support for raising Science Capital by making links between the science in the activities and real science careers.  For example, after exploring the ways that water moves while making ripples, children learn that people who design and make boats need to know about this to help them to design boats that can move safely through rough seas.

We would love to hear how you get on if you use this resource either at home or in school.

Monday, December 5, 2022

A Pinch of Salt

Today's post is brought to you by one of our advisory teachers, Jane Winter

The weather is getting colder, and our thoughts are turning to icy windscreens and slippery roads! As gritter lorries gear up for action, a useful way to link this seasonal change to the science curriculum is with CIEC’s A Pinch of Salt. This free resource provides a real life context in which children can apply learning objectives and practise vocabulary from the science curriculum. 
It's working! Watching the clear salt solution drip through the filter paper.
In one activity children are first invited to compare a sample of pure salt with some rock salt. They are asked to consider how they could extract salt that was pure enough to use on food from the rock salt that is used for gritting roads. The process starts by dissolving the rock salt sample in water before filtering it to remove all the undissolved solids. The water is then evaporated from the salt solution to leave behind salt. The evaporation can be sped up by leaving the solution on a radiator or by using a tealight. 

The resource contains all of the information that you need to carry out this easily resourced activity.

 If you would like to try this, or any other activity, from A Pinch of Salt you will find that it is fully supported with teachers' notes and activity sheets for children. There is also safety guidance including information about NOT actually using salt purified in this way on food and the safe use of tealights. We would love to hear about your experiences of using this, or any other CIEC resource, and will send a hard copy of our acclaimed 'Working Scientifically' to anyone who shares their experiences with us.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Career Cards

This post is written by one of CIEC's advisory teachers, Jane Winter

 Primary teachers are increasingly aware of the importance of raising children's science capital.  High science capital means that ALL children realise that they too could have a career in STEM if they chose, rather than dismissing the possibility at an early age as "not something done by people like me".

At CIEC we believe that one of the best possible ways to do this is to give primary school children the opportunity to meet real STEM professionals and learn how the science that they do in school links to the science that happens in industry.  However, this isn't always possible and this is where our free to download resource Career Cards come in.  Each set of cards in the pack feature one of four STEM professionals who works with one of our partner companies Johnson Matthey.  One card contains their photograph, another their job title and another a job description.  The complete set for one person also has information about their hobbies and which subjects they enjoyed at primary school.

Career cards spark discussions which help to break down stereotypes about who can be a STEM professional

Upper KS2 children have responded well to using these cards and their teachers have told us that they lead to discussions which help them to realise that anyone can aspire to be a scientist or engineer and that there are a variety of routes into STEM professions.

The cards can be downloaded from our website.  However, if you don't fancy all that cutting out, a class set of 7 packs of cards can be purchased from our online shop at a heavily subsidised cost of £8.15.  If you use them in your own classroom we would love to hear how you get on.

Thank you to Johnson Matthey for funding the creation of these cards and for continuing to subsidise their cost to schools

Monday, October 3, 2022

New sustainability science activities from CIEC

This blog post it brought to you by Jane Winter, one of CIEC's advisory teachers

CIEC has started the new academic year by adding some more activities to the existing sustainability resource.  Like most CIEC publications these engaging and easily resourced investigations link real life science solutions to environmental problems and the primary science curriculum. 

Sponsored by Innospec, a company that develops personal care products, the investigations support children to consider the environmental impact of products such as soap and shampoo.  In one activity children explore the efficacy of solid and liquid formulation of soap and research the different transport and packaging requirements of these everyday products.  In another they plan an investigation to assess the suitability of different packaging materials, including an innovative soap wrapping that Innospec scientists have developed which dissolves the first time that the soap is used, thus reducing waste.

Children are motivated to work on these challenges to find out how science can provide solutions to environmental problems

As well as linking to the materials strand of the KS2 curriculum the activities provide ample opportunities for working scientifically including observation over time, secondary research and planning a fair test.  There are also cross curricular links including producing written reports for the scientists at Innospec and creating tables and graphs to display measurements taken during the investigations.  

The PowerPoint, which is included in the resource, provides open ended starting points for classroom discussion, letters from the scientists at Innospec and a short video highlighting the long term environmental impact of single use plastics including packaging. 

The resource contains a short video which provides a context for the investigations

These activities, and many more, are free to download from the CIEC website.  If you use this resource in your classroom we would love to hear from you to hear how it went.  Get in touch (preferably with photographs) at and we will send you a hard copy of some of our resources to say thank you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

An Eggciting Easter Challenge

Today's blog post is brought to you by Mackayla Miller, one of our advisory teachers based in the North East.

Happy Easter folks! Here at CIEC, it’s no yolk that we’re egg-stremely eggs-cited about inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers, but we’re also partial to a few terrible egg puns at this time of year.

Mackayla has been working with the year 6 children at Levendale Primary School to deliver our egg-cellent Children Challenging Industry (CCI) programme. The ‘Eggs-press Delivery Challenge’ was a tough challenge indeed, but this egg-ceptional group of pupils were willing to whisk it all and refused to be beaten. Working in teams with a budget to spend, the groups hatched their plans, packaged their eggs, shelled out for their materials, and are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of their packages in the post to see to see whose eggs survived the journey.

John Baker and Paul Bickley from Teeside plastics manufacturing company Alpek Polyester UK Ltd, joined the classroom sessions via Zoom to give the children an insight into their jobs and engage them in a remote site visit, including an exciting interactive bottle-drop investigation. But it’s not just the children who benefit from the Children Challenging Industry experience. Here’s what John Baker, HSEQ and Technology Director has to say about getting involved:

“I’ve been involved with CCI for nearly 10 years now and every session, whether face to face or more recently using video conference, is great. The engagement from the children in the classroom is fantastic, with them often asking challenging and thoughtful questions. As well as trying to get across what we do in industry and the rewarding careers from STEM subjects, it is an opportunity to speak directly to teachers about what can be quite limited in the curriculum on science and engineering. In some sessions, explaining what we in industry think is obvious can, when seen through different eyes, put a whole new perspective on things, so it is not just a one-way street. The practical sessions show the children the scale of our operations and seeing their sense of wonder reminds me of my primary school teacher who inspired me into my career (he was a nuclear physicist!). I would recommend anyone in STEM careers getting involved as it is a rewarding session.”

If you would like help to get cracking with your STEM education why don't you contact to see if you could become involved in any of our initiatives to link schools with science based industries.  Alternatively, you could try this activity with your class as full teacher notes are available for free from our website.

Full activity notes are available in this free CIEC resource including teacher guidance and safety advice

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Inspiring the next generation with Tolu

At CIEC we are all about breaking down stereotypes so that ALL children know that there is a place for them in STEM careers if they choose.  We know that there is still important work to do in this area as can be seen in the work done by Inspiring the Future.  If you haven't yet seen their video 'Redraw the Balance' please stop what you are doing and watch it now!
 'Redraw the balance' shows that gender stereotypes are embedded by the age of 7.

An important aspect of showing children know that they too could work in STEM are the STEM professionals that we work with who provide children with diverse role models and show them that science and engineering can be a worthwhile career whatever your gender or ethnicity.

Tolu is one of the ambassadors that we work with in the Royston area.  She recently told our advisory teacher Clare Docking

 CIEC does great work, and I am proud to be associated with this organisation! The opportunity to showcase the work that I do as an engineer to an ever so curious and brilliant audience is something I relish and have found to be helpful in refining skills such as public speaking. Being able to give real life context to the children on some of the concepts they learn about in the classroom is something I find enriching. Not only does this help to demystify myths about STEM, but it also raises their awareness of the career prospects, and the role STEM plays in everyday life.

Tolu outside number 10 Downing Street

Tolu told Clare that she became interested in maths, physics and chemistry at school and knew from a very young age that she wanted to work in the world of science. Her parents encouraged her to take an interest in the sciences when growing up. However, others were concerned about her becoming a female engineer.  Fortunately, Tolu had the opportunity to visit local industry during work experience where she met a range of people in scientific roles and decided that she would like to become a Chemical Engineer. 

She knew that there was a place for women in engineering due to meeting some brilliant female engineers.  Even so, she is often the only female on the team and would really like to see more females in engineering and a greater ethnic diversity, particularly in leadership positions. Tolu enjoys her job very much saying that it is a very varied role and once trained you can work in many different sectors. She feels that she is making an important contribution to society and is doing a valuable job.

Tolu knows that her work as an ambassador for Children Challenging Industry is very important, commenting 

Although these children are still in the early stages of their education, I see it as an opportunity for a company to invest in the continuity of their talent pipeline. Beyond this is the possibility of young people, who as a result of being exposed to the industry feel empowered to pursue a career in STEM.

We would like to thank Tolu for taking the time to inspire the next generation.  If you would like to find out how CIEC could help the children in your school please contact us on 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Potatoes to plastic: Cross curricular opportunities

In the third and final post in this series linked to CIEC's latest free resource Potatoes to plastic, Jane Winter explains how it can be used to make meaningful cross curricular links.

The OFSTED report, Maintaining Curiosity, confirmed what experienced teachers already knew, it can be beneficial to both subjects when meaningful cross curricular links are made. However, it is important to do this in a way that values both subjects rather than using one as little more than a vehicle for the other.  In English lessons the teacher should be concentrating on English learning objectives and in science upon science learning objectives. One of my pet hates is when schools, with the very best of intentions, insist that writing has to be as good in other subjects as it is in English. We don't need Vygotsky's zone of proximal development theory to tell us that children are able to do more with support than they are able to do independently. The level of writing in an English lesson is achieved because of skilled teacher support which is not available in a lesson where the teacher's energy is focused on other skills.  Having said that, I have seen great writing about science which has been done in a subsequent English lesson, the children's writing benefiting from an inspirational science experience.
It is important to give children the support that they might need with English during science lessons, but this should not be at the expense of good quality science teaching.

With the value of cross curricular approaches in mind Potatoes to plastic has suggestions for a series of lessons which can be used for English teaching.  They are designed so that the teacher concentrates upon the English learning objectives, and is not trying to juggle too many plates at once.  However, the content is likely to raise children's science capital as it is based upon the biographies of six of the scientists currently working in the award winning Green Chemistry department at the University of York.  Although the focus of the lesson is on reading and writing children learn about the range of exciting jobs that the scientists do, and also find out that scientists are 'normal' people, just like you or I with families and hobbies beyond science.

When reading about real scientists in an English lesson children learn that scientists are normal people with a range of activities and hobbies, from making lego models with their children to enjoying skiing.

The final section of this free publication concentrates upon the range of other solutions to the problem of waste that scientists have developed, from extracting citronella from orange peel to turning cocoa husks into paper bags.  There are a set of downloadable playing cards which can be used for a range of games including 'Memory pairs', 'Old Fossil' and 'Go Recycle' which highlight science solutions to environmental problems.  These could be used as an activity during a science or environmental day.  Alternatively, the link and game instructions could be shared with families so that the cards could be used at home.

The previous two blog posts in this series are still available.  You can find the one about extracting starch from potato peel here, and the one about making bio-plastic from potato peel here.  If you use any of the activities we would love to hear how you get on.  It is feedback from teachers like you that helps us to know what we are doing right and how we can get even better in the future!  
Full instructions for the English activities and the card games as well as how to turn potato peel into bio-plastic are included in this free to download publication

This is what one teacher had to say after using this resource with their class.

Our current topic is all about Endangered Species and a large part of this has been around the dangers of plastics in the oceans and different habitats; so this lesson in particular was a great experience for cross-curricular discussions, the content of which were deep and enriched. In addition to this, the vocabulary resources that accompanied the investigation were a fantastic tool to help deepen the children's understanding and allowed them to speak freely, scientifically and accurately about the processes they were undertaking. Both pupil and teacher thoroughly enjoyed the lesson.