Thursday, 28 March 2013

National Science and Engineering Week 2013

WOW! what a week and more!

 National Science and Engineering Week is over for another year and for Science2U it has been a huge success.
Quite a few schools decided that to make sure they got a special guest speaker they would book early and choose a slightly earlier date that the actual week itself. So we have been doing "ScienceWeek" since  February!!
The theme chosen by the British Science Association this year was Invention & Discovery and we decided to create a show incorporating some of our favourite inventions, discoveries and scientist stories.

From Astronauts leading to roof tiles from recycled disposable nappies.
Isaac Newton and the spectrum viewed through our wonderful rainbow glasses
A whole range of SMART materials including colour changing straws, heat sensitive paper, polymorph and our EL neon light costumes.
And finally pirates, vitamin C and our wonderful Rhinovirus models helping us show how to prevent colds from spreading. Helen's glitter snot was a huge hit - the largest group we "infected" was 230 at Upton Heath in Chester.

We have visited all manner of schools from large multi cultural city centre through suburban middle class achievers to a very old country school of just 67 pupils.
So thank you to last week's schools:

All Saint's Runcorn where we had a super long afternoon session with class 4 

Woodfall Lane Primary with a special mention for their youngest pupils who were so enthusiastic and enjoyed every minute

Stanley Road in Oldham who were so friendly and made us incredibly welcome. Mentioning particularly Louise who had organised the whole complex day for such a big school and looked after us superbly

Brabins Endowed Primary in Chipping - a tiny school with a wonderful old hall where children had been taught since 1684

All in all we have shared science with 7 schools, done 19 shows and delivered 8 workshops for this year's NSEW. And now we need a lie down!  

Sunday, 24 March 2013

ASE North West Conference

Saturday March 16th at the Science Learning Centre Didsbury.
This is my third year of speaking at this great CPD opportunity for science teachers in the North West of England. Previously I have spoken with my good friend and colleague Lorelly Wilson but this year Helen was coming with me and we were speaking as Science2U.
We had been asked to deliver two sessions this year one for KS2/3 and a special one for KS1.

The first session was for KS2/3 and using the RSC DVD as a basis we shared simple demonstrations that could be used in a variety of ways within the lesson.

For example a simple handwarmer can be used as a session opener on observation, an introduction to exothermic reactions or even a fun way to start heat of re-crystallisation investigations. Many people have used a handwarmer but few have sat and watched what happens when you set one off!

Our second session was A Little Bit of Science Magic aimed at KS1 showing simple hands on ideas to introduce awe and wonder into the science lesson. From a home made lava lamp lit up from underneath in a darkened room which suddenly becomes rather special to a saucer of milk with food colour drops which creates a work of art when touched lightly with washing up liquid.

Some people came back to our second session - they had so enjoyed the first!!
The feedback comments were immense - we were a hit!
Quite a few of the teachers wanted to pick our brains after the sessions and we almost missed lunch. Lots more names signed up to our newsletter. There will be a special ASE conference one with links to the resources we shared - probably going out just after Easter.

Sunday, 10 March 2013


Another new experience for Science2U - a road trip!
Well only one night away but all the same.....
We were going back to Sue's roots - she comes from Chadderton near Oldham - we had a super time with St Matthew's CofE primary school in Chadderton Hall Road.
The newly amalgamated St Matthew's infants and Chadderton Hall junior schools were in the middle of a very exciting science week with so many different experiences happening. The Science Co-ordinator Elaine had booked us for two days back to back to deliver 7 shows and a hands on session.
So we decided that it would make sense to stay overnight in a local B&B rather than trek all the way home along the M62 and fight our way back the next day.

Packing two days of shows plus a workshop was quite a logistical task but by Tuesday night everything was in the car apart from our one extra member of staff  Candy who had to sit on the back seat.

Candy the Bear

We arrived at the school and set up our first day of shows - Get a Move On exploring  the forces in everyday toys. We were working in an upstairs room often used for music. It was light and airy with room for about 60 pupils and soon our first two classes arrived and we were off!

That first day we met all the infant classes and year 3 Juniors from the building across the main road.
We explored historical toys and modern toys looking at pushes, pulls and spins. How modern toys are powered and just what it is that makes a teddy so can cuddle them!

The staff made us extremely welcome and at lunch time chatting in the staff room we were thrilled to listen to their plans for science assemblies led by different classes. There were no barriers here to having a go at some adventurous science - it was exciting to be chatting science with such inspirational teachers.

That evening after settling down in a very confortable B&B in nearby Shaw we went off to find somewhere for an evening meal. The landlord of the B&B had recommended a local eatery so off we went into a foggy night, in the car, climbing slowly up the hillside, not sure where the road was going but eventually we arrived in Delph and a super place The Kings Arms. It was a great place to relax with good food and plenty of frothy coffee.

The next morning we had a rare luxury - a later start. Our first show was not until 9.30 and of course we had set everything up the previous day so we were able to enjoy our full English breakfast in peace before setting off for school.

This second day we were working with the juniors who came across the road to the upper room very expectantly. First we saw year 6 who were full of questions and impressed us with their science knowledge. Year 5 were very keen to experiment with the rainbow glasses to see what different light sources produced.
After lunch we met year 4 who were excited to be meeting real scientists who were female. One young man commented that he thought we were officially well cool!

The final session of the day saw all hands to the pumps as we quickly brought in tables and chairs so 30 hand picked year 6 could have a lesson getting up close and personal to some of our equipment.
They were able to see how materials react to a stimulus such as temperature

We then did an observational session using handwarmers. What is happening,  how do they work, what do you think is inside, how could you use them in science.........

We were very impressed with the young people we met, with their fascination with science and their excitement in finding out about their world.....and then we discovered that we were teaching at the very same school that Prof. Brian Cox had attended. Is there something in the water in Chadderton?