Monday, March 31, 2014

Does the chemical industry get sufficient coverage at post 16 level?

Chemistry A level provides an excellent start for those wishing to pursue a career in science but sadly there is not much time to give a good flavour of the chemical industry. Degrees and careers in disciplines not covered at school do need to be introduced to students - it is difficult for them to ask about choices they are not even aware of!

The chemical industry and its service industries in the wider economy account for about 20% of the UK GDP. It is definitely worth telling studentsabout this industry as this is where the jobs are!

A good introduction to the industry is the CIEC flagship post-16 site The Essential Chemical Industry

In The Essential Chemical Industry - Online, there are 76 units which describe key aspects of the chemical industry in a concise way.  They are designed so that you can ‘dip in’ to them to retrieve the information you need.
Although the units are self-contained, you will find that throughout this web site there are cross-references to material in other units, which is easily obtained by the designated hyperlinks.  There is also a facility  which allows you to search the whole site.  These two approaches will help you to follow up related topics and to explore more widely.
75 of the units are presented in five thematic groups:
  1. Industrial processes
  2. Materials and applications
  3. Basic chemical
  4. Polymers
  5. Metals
These are preceded by an Introduction to the Chemical Industry.  This is an overview of the current state of the chemical industry worldwide and is divided into 10 main sections:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Do children realise what a huge industry is involved in both producing and disposing of plastic?

Children are surrounded by plastic; at home, school, their packed lunch...
How much thought do they give to this excess - not a lot I imagine!

But both the production of plastics - the petrochemical industry - and the relatively recent business of recycling/disposal of plastic is worth talking about with them.

Working with plastics is a great way to open up discussion - so look at Plastics Playtime for some great activities.

Children test and classify plastics before investigating their thermal insulation and shock resistance properties. The children then design, make and test a package for a fragile object, using plastics and other materials.
These activities are aimed at 8-10 year olds but can easily be adapted for other primary ages.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Is 'kitchen' science a good route to 'real' science for primary age children?

Setting science in a meaningful context is part of the tool kit for primary teachers.
Unless children can relate classroom activities to their own experiences attention can wander and not much gets understood. So using kitchen science is a great way in.

All CIEC activities are context based - mainly an industrial context so the science in school and its practical applications become linked.

Jenny Harvey, CIEC Advisory Teacher in the North East, recently delivered some of the Kitchen Concoction activities at Breckon Hill School, Middlesborough. This was followed by the children visiting local industry Chemoxy International where the children were able to see some of the science they had discovered for themselves in school being put into practice.
Year 6 at Breckon Hill Primary school, Middlesborough, making bubbles after developing their own 'best' mixture with guidance from Kitchen Concoctions

Focusing on the use of mixtures in the kitchen. Children examine a mince-pie as a 'mixture' and compare 'real' dairy cream with imitation aerosol cream. Activities include making a soap bar, developing a bubble mixture, investigating the effectiveness of washing products and scourers, and making a simple fire extinguisher.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Is primary school the right place to tell children about the scientific industries?

There is much debate about equipping school leavers for the workplace. It seems that many young people leave school with little idea of what to expect from the world of work. Perhaps earlier engagement with what 'work' is all about would be a good thing for both employers and the young people who at times can seem ill-prepared.

Work experience in the later stages of secondary education is an invaluable way to show 'work' to pupils who may have no idea what to expect. But wouldn't it be great to start introducing them to workplace scenarios at a much earlier age?

Why not look at some of the CIEC resources which are all context based - setting children scientific problems to solve based in the world of the science industries?

If your pupils have been watching #Crufts2014 over the weekend why not look at CIEC resource Medicines for Pets .

This resource focuses on the processes involved in developing pet medicines. The context is closely related to the challenges faced by research scientists and manufacturers.
Activities investigate the extraction and purification of the active ingredient, the formulation of a tablet, the best tablet shape and developing a suitable coating..

Monday, March 3, 2014

A good week to teach primary science space topics with #Gravity in the news

What a great night for British Film! Sadly CIEC have no science resources even remotely connected with #12YearsASlave but we have a great primary resource for 9-12 year olds Is There Anyone Out There? which would make a great tie in to #Gravity.

This resource is based upon the quest to discover more about our solar system through space projects such as the European Space Agency's Aurora programme, and NASA's Curiosity mission seeking to gather evidence of life on the planet Mars. The children take on the role of space scientists or space engineers to discover more about Mars.

One of the favourite activities involves constructing a chocolate volcano to mimic lava flow. The pic shows a primary science 'ambassador' making the volcano (and having fun!).