In January 2023, Albyn School welcomed 24 primary school teachers from across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire into their science labs for two Call Me A Chemist events. After receiving funding from The Royal Society of Chemistry‘s Primary Science Teaching Empowerment Fund, the events were developed by Catherine Imlah, Head of Science and Chemistry at Albyn School. Now, after overwhelming demand, thoroughly positive feedback and calls for follow up events, Catherine and her team are pleased to be planning a 2024 series of Call Me A Chemist events to further inspire local primary school teachers who are not specialist science teachers.
At Albyn School pupils benefit from having a science specialist teach them weekly from Primary 6 and the opportunity for adhoc lessons from Primary 1 upwards. Teaching science to primary school pupils can be really rewarding but after speaking with primary teachers in local authority schools, it was clear that they are limited in specialist teachers who are confident in explaining the Chemistry behind experiments at age-appropriate levels.
At the first fun-filled, interactive Call Me A Chemist events, the teachers undertook seven different practical experiments, such as a science teacher favourite, Oobleck, and a more unusual take on condensation by creating a cloud in a jar. All the experiments were linked to the curriculum, suitable for all stages of primary science and focused on giving more depth and understanding to the Chemistry involved. Each experiment used everyday items, such as jam jars and juice bottles to create a variety of practical investigations that were easily accessible, budget-friendly and encouraged sustainability through the use of recycled and recyclable materials.
Before the experiments began, Catherine and her colleague spoke to the teachers about the Chemistry involved and were on hand throughout the day to answer questions and have discussions on all things Chemistry that ranged from ideas for adapting the experiments for further age ranges and abilities to writing risk assessments.
Each teacher received a resource pack that included student worksheets and a teacher information sheet that detailed the different experiments and additional suggestions to expand the activities, as well as links to additional resources and the science outcomes and benchmarks. Thanks to the funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry, class sets of the equipment were also provided so the teachers could go away with all the inspiration and equipment they needed for a full set of science lessons to try back with their own classes.
The teachers from Albyn School and those from the local authority schools all agreed the events were hugely beneficial and are pleased that they have made connections to take forward.
The participants all agreed that they gained a deeper understanding of the chemistry involved in the experiments and that the class resource packs meant they would very easily be able to incorporate the experiments in their lessons and science clubs back at their own schools. All of the teachers also agreed that it was reassuring to see that they were on the right track and that the sessions had given them the confidence to thoroughly explore the practical science curriculum with their pupils.
Catherine and her colleague at Albyn School also gained a lot from the experience, including insights into the expectations primary teachers have placed upon them and the types of practical experiments they’re usually limited to.
Catherine and her team are now preparing to run more Call Me A Chemist events in 2024.
If you know anyone who would like to attend future Call Me A Chemist events in Aberdeenshire, please contact Catherine Imlah, Head of Science at Albyn School.