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Colleges and wider student experience

Student news

Durham chemistry student inspires local school children

(4 April 2017)

Third year MChem student Abigail Scott has had her final project for the Chemistry into Schools module featured as an example of local school children benefiting from the skills and knowledge of Durham students. Working with the class science teacher, Sandra Elliott, Abigail taught Year 5 pupils at Fishburn Primary School, Stockton-on-Tees, a number of different chemistry activities which they then presented to the younger children in Year 1 as part of a very successful science fair. 

Abigail is one of five chemistry undergraduates who have been out on placement in local schools last term, enthusing school pupils about chemistry and acting as inspirational role models for local children.

Dr Jacquie Robson, Senior Teaching Fellow and First Year Mentor in the Department of Chemistry spoke to Abigail and Sandra about the project. 

Abigail said: “For my placement I led lessons every week for a Year 5 class, teaching them all about the properties and changes in different materials. The best part of my placement was organising a science fair that the Year 5 class (9-10 year olds) put on for Key Stage One pupils (5-7 year olds).

Sharing my knowledge

“The science fair, which happened at the school, was a huge success with the Year 5s leading a whole range of experiments, such as making slime, lava lamps and ‘dancing raisins’. It was a really good opportunity to do something different and share some of my knowledge in the subject, so it’s definitely a part of the course I’d recommend to anyone who is potentially interested in teaching or working with children.”

Growing my confidence

“By leading science lessons every week, I grew in confidence with public speaking and improved at giving presentations, which has proven to be a useful experience in giving presentations within my degree. The main benefit however has been getting an insight into teaching and what it’s like to work in a school, which will be invaluable when I apply for PGCE courses next year.”

Sandra Elliott, Class Science teacher at Fishburn Primary School added: “The project and science fair work really well as anything that gets the children interested and motivated in science is marvellous. The specialist knowledge that someone like Abigail brings to the classroom is invaluable. It’s not just the children’s science knowledge that is expanded, but also their horizons, as it’s an opportunity for them to not just think about science as a subject but also a possible career option too.”

Opportunities at Durham

Abigail added: “At Durham there are so many opportunities here to get involved in different activities, whether that’s teaching, outreach activities, volunteering or research projects within the department. My advice is that if there’s an opportunity that you’re interested in then go for it!

“I’ve had the opportunity to try out a whole range of different things that I would never have been able to otherwise, such as going to Amsterdam to row in an international race for my College boat club and running the student welfare campaigns in my College. The collegiate system also provides you with an instant set of friends, a welcoming community and a strong support network.”

The Northern Echo article about Abigail’s project at Fishburn can be found here.

Abigail and Sandra also discussed the success of the science fair on Star Radio. Star Radio Interview Fishburn (MP3)