Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New Year's honour for Dr Stan Higgins

Dr Stan Higgins with children on the Children Challenging Industry programme
CIEC were delighted to hear that Dr Stan Higgins, recently retired Chief Executive of North East Process Industries Cluster (NEPIC), has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours and has received an OBE.  Stan has supported CIEC’s Children Challenging Industry (CCI) programme for many years and he took time to chat to us about why he considers their work so important and why he firmly believes CCI is such an effective model.

Stan, who is an alumni and honorary fellow of the University of York, explained that when he first took on the role of Chief Executive, fifteen years ago, the previous organisation already invested time and money in working with school children.  At the time CCI was one of a number of educational projects they supported, as well as two mobile laboratories that visited both primary and secondary schools.

Reduced funding resulted in CCI being the only remaining NEPIC supported project. As Stan points out, research shows that CCI is an incredibly effective way for companies to invest in their future workforce.  Stan believes that this is for three main reasons.  Firstly, CCI targets primary school children when they are beginning to form ideas about their future careers; it is consequently able to raise young people’s awareness of STEM careers at the start of this decision-making process. Secondly, it employs specialist teachers who are able to deliver engaging and effective lessons which link closely to the school curriculum.  Thirdly, it supports class teachers to teach the curriculum in a way which helps children to understand the importance of industry as a future career choice.  CCI also leaves teachers with well-written and relevant resources.  Stan suggests that when industry works directly with local schools, without this specialist support, it is often little more than ‘a nice day’ for both children and staff, and is unlikely to have a long term impact on young people’s aspirations.

Over the years Stan has been impressed by the excellent behaviour of school children that he has met through CCI.  “I was not that well behaved when I was at school” he laughed!  He has been particularly impressed by the attitudes of disadvantaged children who are clearly excited by the science that they do with CCI and are able to persist when faced with challenges.  Going forward, he would like to see CCI delivered to as many primary school children as possible as he believes that this would have the best impact for industry.  As he explained, CCI not only puts STEM subjects into context for primary school children but it lets them know that there is a place for everyone in industry.

Top left Stan with his ‘European Cluster Manager of the Year’ 2014 and right with a lifetime achievement award from the Chemical Industries Association

Monday, January 8, 2018

ASE conference 2018

Delegates enjoying CIEC's assessment session delivered by Nicky Waller.

It's that time of year again when everyone in science education who can possibly make it dust themselves down from the excesses of Christmas and make their way to the Association of Science Education annual conference.  There can be little doubt that many of us find ourselves regretting our decision to book a place as we get up on a dark morning to make a wintery trek accross the country to that year's venue.  However, there can be no doubt at all that by the end of the conference everyone is very glad indeed that they made the effort.  

Jane Turner and Shaun Reason making density column 'martinis' on the CLEAPS stand at the 'Primary Pop-up'.
The ASE conference is a chance to experience some brilliant CPD delivered by a wide variety of professionals from a number of different perspectives.  It is a place to learn about new approaches and innovative ideas backed up by first hand experiences and cutting edge research.  It is also an opportunity to share our own latest initiatives, activities and research. 


Dr Maria Turkenburg shared some of the latest researh about CIEC's 'Children Challenging Industry' at her session 'Attitudes up: CCI sucess'

Just as important as being introduced to new ideas is being reminded about tried and tested lessons and approaches which we had forgotten about.  In the same way, the conference is a place where we make new friends and contacts as well as reconnecting with old ones and seeing familiar faces.  Most importantly, the ASE conference is a place where everyone believes in the importance of high quality science education for all children and where we are reinvogorated by each other's enthusiasm and excitement.

CIEC's Practical idea's for teaching materials session led by Joy Parvin.
When I was working in the classroom, especially in the early years of my career, the ASE, largely through the conference, played an important role in shaping my attitudes and understanding.  The influence was not only on science teaching in particular but on education in general.  I still have to pinch myself as I realise that now, as well as continuing to learn from other teachers at the conference, I am able to contribute  by running my own session!

Teachers extracting starch from a potato during CIEC's 'Potatoes to plastic' session led by Jane Winter.
Another important part of the conference is the exhibition where (as well as picking up several 'freebies') we find out what is available to support science education.  This includes products and  books but also ideas for activities to support the curriculum.  When I was teaching I found lots of ideas for things things to do in my school including visits from Sphere Science and activities from Practical Action.  Of course no trip to the conference would be complete without a visit to the ASE book stand.


The ladies from Sphere science, the newly released ASE guide to primary science from the ASE book stall, a bug from Zoolife and the Practical Action stand; a tiny sample of the exhibition.
If you haven't been before make sure that you make a note now of next year's conference which will be on the 9th to the 12th January in Birmingham.  If you were at Liverpool no doubt you will already have resolved to go and we look forward to seeing you there.


Nicola Beverley listening to Nicky Waller telling everyone about her book at the Primary Teachmeet on Saturday.

by Jane Winter     

Friday, December 15, 2017

What's in a mince pie?



For the last week of term how would you like an activity that combines exploring mince pies with practising different types of scientific enquiry including identifying, classifying and sorting and using secondary sources?  Wouldn’t it be even better if that activity gave your children the opportunity to apply some tricky scientific vocabulary in a meaningful and engaging way? 
  
  
One of the activities in our recently updated Kitchen Concoctions resource, “What’s in a mince pie” does just that.  The lesson has been designed to help children understand that some mixtures can be permanently changed into new things whereas others can still be separated into their original ingredients.  It also helps children to understand what a mixture is and that there can be mixtures within mixtures.
Children work in pairs or small groups to break a mince pie in half and to explore what it is made of.  They are asked to consider whether it is just one thing or a mixture of different things.    They discover that although the pastry is made up of more than one ingredient it seems to be one thing, and can no longer be separated back into its separate ingredients. 

They then use a tooth pick and hand lens to carefully examine and separate out the individual ingredients from a spoonful of mincemeat taken from a jar, they initially find that many of the ingredients can be separated out.  However, when they use the ingredients list (from the side of the jar) as a secondary source they realise that not all of the ingredients are still visible and they can no longer be separated from the rest of the mixture. If they then take part in the extension activity to bake their own mince pies they are able to observe change over time as they notice the changes that happen to both the pastry and the mince pie when they are heated.

This activity, alongside the other eight exciting activities in Kitchen Concoctions, can be downloaded for free at http://www.ciec.org.uk/kitchen_concoctions/.  It contains full teacher guidance for all of the activities described, which is particularly useful for hard pressed teachers at this hectic time of year.  To receive a free printed copy of our acclaimed resource ‘Working Scientifically’, let us know how you get on using the mince pie activity with your class.  You can do this by leaving a comment on the blog or by tweeting to @ciecyork.



For the next two weeks we will be taking a break from the CIEC blog and will be spending more time eating than dissecting mince pies!  However, we will be back early in the new year.  We look forward to seeing you at the Association of Science Education conference in Liverpool either in person or via social media.  In the meantime, have a relaxing and peaceful holiday.



Friday, December 8, 2017

Children Challening Industry

CIEC’s Children Challenging Industry programme was initiated by Tom Swan, then Managing Director of Thomas Swan and Co. Ltd. Tom Swan wanted a peripatetic teacher to visit primary schools in County Durham. Joy Parvin (Director, CIEC), then added in the site visits and school staff CPD, to create the CCI programme we have today.  Harry Swan (Tom’s son, now the Managing Director of Thomas Swan), first got involved when attending a CCI summer event, which brought back the memory of his own class visit to his Dad’s company. Meeting children, teachers and colleagues from other chemical companies at this event enabled Harry to appreciate the positive impact of site visits, and how learning about industry changed children’s perceptions of these companies and their relationship with science. Harry is now Chair of CIEC’s Advisory Committee, and plays a key role in encouraging other companies to support CIEC’s activities.


Pupils are fascinated during a demonstration at Johnson Matthey

Johnson Matthey in Billingham have been hosting school visits since 2002. During that time, they have welcomed more than 1500 children to their site, with over 300 of these visiting in the last 12 months alone.  The Johnson Matthey site in Royston hosts an additional 6 site visits annually and sends ambassadors into a further 4 schools each year.  These opportunities to interact and engage with the children are not only an opportunity to promote awareness of Johnson Matthey but also a chance to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers. The feedback from pupils and teachers has been excellent and has prompted yet more schools to enquire about participating in the programme.


Research shows that before participating in the CCI programme, children often have a negative perception of the chemical industry.  They see it as dangerous and polluting rather than as a place of technological innovation.  They are not aware of the links between the processes that the industries carry out and the science that they study in school.  Neither are they aware of industry’s potential as a future employer.  


Alan Bootland carrying out a Johnson Matthey demonstration
Without ongoing funding from, and the practical support of, companies such as Johnson Matthey, we would be unable to continue the invaluable work of CCI.  We are extremely grateful to them for their sustained contribution to the programme.
Jenny Harvey

Friday, December 1, 2017

Latest Research from CIEC






The CIEC’s flagship programme, Children Challenging Industry (CCI), makes explicit the relationship between practical scientific activities in the primary classroom and large scale industrial processes. We bring this to life for the children by arranging for them to participate in an in-school project run by one of our advisory teachers alongside their own class teacher. This is followed by a trip to a local site or, if this proves impossible, a visit to the school from a specially-trained “ambassador” from the industry. The CCI programme is evaluated on an ongoing basis, with participating teachers and pupils asked to complete a questionnaire before and after the experience. Our latest report represents four years’ worth of data from pupils and teachers, from 2012 to 2016; you can see it here  http://bit.ly/2Ah17Fr



Or you may prefer to see the infographics document which shows highlights from this research.

http://bit.ly/2Ap0APQ

Friday, November 24, 2017

How to make effective links with industry

Why make links with industry?

Children taking part in a classroom activity from the CIEC resource Water for Industry
Making links with industry benefits children as it motivates and engages them; it helps them to realise that science is both important and relevant to their lives; it raises their aspirations as they can see that studying science is worthwhile and can lead to exciting careers.  There is strong evidence that children already have strongly developed ideas which affect their future career choices before the age of eleven so it is important to engage with young people while they are still at primary school.

It is beneficial to industry as by supporting young people to make informed decisions about the subjects that they study they are investing in a future workforce which is drawn from a more diverse cross section of society.  It also helps challenge negative preconceptions about industry for all of the children who visit, not just those who might go on to work in the sector.

Finally, links with industry benefit teachers as they are an exciting and innovative way to cover the National Curriculum for Science.


Bronze Standard: Industry as a context for science lessons
A selection of CIEC resources
Real life contexts based on industry provide engaging problem solving activities (such as the one described here http://bit.ly/2jFSsWI ).  They cover the learning objectives in a way that is both memorable and meaningful.   CIEC has worked in collaboration with many industry partners to produce a library of resources and lesson plans which will support teachers to do this (http://bit.ly/2yKQJ4z ).  They have also created some interactive websites which make links between the primary curriculum and industry contexts (http://bit.ly/2hGf70S ). 


Silver Standard: Visits from Industry Ambassadors

Giving children the opportunity to meet people who work in industry is a valuable way to build upon experiences in class.  Ideally they will meet children in small groups as this allows for more interaction.  Children are especially excited to see demonstrations or to handle artefacts brought in from the work place.  If ambassadors plan to show electronic presentations they should be encouraged to base these on pictures rather than text.  A particular benefit of ambassador visits is that children realise that STEM subjects can lead to exciting jobs done by real people!


Gold Standard: Children visiting industry



Children visiting Chemoxy in Teeside
Industry visits can be an opportunity for children to see, on a large scale, processes such as filtration that they have carried out in the classroom.  It is a wonderful opportunity to foster positive attitudes and research has shown that children value and remember industry visits for many years.  Moreover, it is an experience that has been cited by some, now working in industry, as the moment that they realised that this is what they wanted to do!  It is particularly valuable if they are able to see both male and female employees and people from diverse backgrounds.  

Children during a visit to Fujifilm Diosynth

This blog post is based upon a chapter in the Primary Science Subject Leader Guide written by Joy Parvin.  

This survival guide, published by the Association of Science Education, is availabe to all ASE members free of charge and can be found at  https://www.ase.org.uk/resources/primary.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Fundraising and having fun!




Celebrating ten years of golfing for CIEC in front of Slaley Hall

During September, golfers from across the North-East England's chemical industry hit the courses at Northumberland's Slaley Hall for a day of networking, fun and fund raising in support of CIEC's Children Challenging Industry project.

Lining up before the game starts. 


Billingham-based pump manufacturer, Tomlinson Hall, scooped this year's top prize and was  crowned NEPIC Golf Champion 2017. Through personal contributions, £500 was raised for CCI. The event, which has been running for over a decade, has continually supported CIEC activities.



The Tomlinson Hall winning team