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 ).  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 ( ).  They have also created some interactive websites which make links between the primary curriculum and industry contexts ( ). 

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

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

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Creative Approach to Teaching Science

"If you want to know how to make children love science then you must get this book"
Alison Brackenridge     

The front cover of Nicky's new book.

Here at CIEC HQ we are extremely proud that our colleague Nicky Waller has recently had a book published by Bloomsbury!  Those of you that have worked with her will know that she is a very experienced primary science teacher who is brimming with ideas for ways to teach the subject, so you will not be surprised to know that she has produced an extermely useful book.

It is cram packed with fantastic ideas to teach every single element of the primary science curriculum in a meaningful and engaging way.   The layout of the book is logical and straightforward so that teachers can quickly find the learning objectives that they are planning to teach.  There they will find manageable lesson ideas which Nicky has tried and tested with the recommended age group so they can be sure that they really will work as intended.  Teachers will find that the activities, as well as being fun, will support children to develop a secure understanding of the concepts that they are teaching.

Of course, you may think that we are biased because we work with Nicky but if you look at the reviews on Amazon you will see that others agree with us!  

Nicky at a recent event where she met some of her readers.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Tomorrow's Engineers

Children can feel inspired, motivated and spend more time engaged on task when the problems posed involve them searching for a purposeful outcome, particularly when some-one is asking for their advice! The sensor activity on page 16 of our publication ‘Generating Electricity’ (which can be found at  provides this kind of context and would be a useful challenge to give children during ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers Week’ (6th -10th November) while covering KS2 objectives for electricity.

After receiving a letter from ‘Electricaid’ children work collaboratively to design and build a mini working model of a well which includes some kind of sensor to warn when the water has reached a desired level. Each group is given a large beaker (1000ml) to represent their well, one 1.5V cell and the rest is up to them!

The most innovative designs are achieved when children are provided with a selection of basic circuit equipment as well as lots of everyday conducting and insulating materials to choose from - paper clips, drawing pins, split pins, coins, corks, cotton reels, tin foil, bottle tops, glue, blu-tac, sellotape, card, plastic tubes and plastic sheets (A4 overhead projector transparencies are ideal) plus anything else that the children think they will need.

Working collaboratively

Children are encouraged to discuss and swap ideas not just at the planning stage but throughout this activity, jotting and amending notes and annotated drawings on whiteboards and listing the types of equipment they may need to start with and then to modify and improve their designs. Giving children space to make mistakes as they design and evaluate their designs through a process of trial and error helps children to develop a deep understanding of what they are doing as well as fostering real pride in their achievements.

 It can be valuable not to show children the diagram of a successful design which is provided in the resource until after they have made their own sensors.  When they do this teachers are amazed at the variety of ideas and at the ingenuity of children.  Most models have some kind of floating conductor (say a ‘raft’ of corks covered in tin foil) placed in the bottom of the well. When water is added and the level rises, this floats up to touch a carefully positioned contact point near the top of the well which is then connected to a simple circuit built safely away from the water.  

Close up of a working sensor

We would love to see your children’s designs; you can tweet them to @ciecyork for a chance to win a hard copy of some of our resources!