Daily Science Activities during school closures – Week 1 and 2

As well as collating a collection of excellent websites, activities and resources for parents and teachers during the corona virus pandemic on the resources page of my website, I’m also posting a daily science or STEM activity on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I’m posting ideas seven days a week, through the easter holiday too, because science fun is for every day 😀.

Here are the posts from weeks one and two all in one place!

Day 1

Follow the rainbows popping up in your local area and find out how rainbows are made at http://sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/weather/rainbows.html… and try and make your own! Can you split white light using a glass a a prism?


Day 2

Have a go at making a straw kazoo! You can feel the sound vibrations 🎺🎼
(paper straws work too, but maybe use up any old stocks of plastic straws and recycle when you’re done)

#ScienceFromHome #HaveAGo #DrJoScience #sound #year4

Day 3

Make a density jar-some liquids are less dense (less mass per volume) than others, and will float on top. Try pouring different kitchen cupboard liquids into a tall glass, bottle or jar and see what happens

#ScienceFromHome #HaveAGo #DrJoScience #density


Make a paper spinner out of paper and paperclips – can you make it Fast or Slow? Big or Small? What can you change?


#ScienceFromHome #HaveAGo #DrJoScience #forces #motion#comparativetest #variable #data #investigation


Something a bit more global 🌍 today! 

Today I took part in the Global Science Show on twitter as a presenter.
I was *signing* about chemical reactions in #BSL

Dr Jo Chemical reactions video

In this video (with captions in YouTube) I sign BSL and show the chemical reaction between an acid (vinegar) and an alkali (sodium bicarbonate), producing carbon dioxide gas. Mixing an acid (in liquid form) and an alkali (in solid form), the reaction produces water and a gas – causing the fizzing eruption popular in these pretend bicarb and vinegar’ volcano’ experiments.
I apologise for my poor signing; it’s been a really long time since I learned BSL but I wanted to try to make my video inclusive. I also forgot to use the sign for vinegar 🙈, but at least I can finger spell it! (Just spotted that I signed ‘what’ instead of ‘why’ as well!!)

I hope you’re enjoying some #ScienceFromHome
#SocialDistanceLearning #HomeSchooling #HomeLearning #BeCurious#DrJo #DrJoScience #inclusive #accessible #ScienceForAll#ScienceForEveryone

Why don’t you have a go at some science from home too? 🧪💫🧪💫🧪💫🧪💫


Set up an experiment to investigate the growth of microorganisms – use slices of bread to compare clean and dirty hands! Take care with disposal!


#ScienceFromHome #HaveAGo #DrJoScience #microorganisms #germs#mould

Image sourced from the experiment details at tinyurl.com/v3bcffn


Learn about the golden ratio and make some 3D model polyhedrons from @Qubits_Toy


#ScienceFromHome #HaveAGo #DrJoScience #STEM #maths #geometry#makerspace #architecture

Day 8

Find out about where food comes from and how it’s grown. Try looking at https://farmsunday.org/visit-a-farm/science-and-technology or you can ask a farmer a question!

#ScienceFromHome #HaveAGo #DrJoScience #FarmerTime#AskFarmerTom


Day 9

Go outside (whilst keeping a safe distance, and wash your hands👐🧼 ), or peek out of the window, and find signs of spring 🌱🐾🐣🌸www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/…/kids-nature-activities-self-iso…/

#ScienceFromHome #HaveAGo #DrJoScience #SocialDistanceLearning

Day 10

‪Have a go at exploring vibrations, resonance and pitch today by making water flutes. Watch this video and have a go!

#ScienceFromHome #RemoteLearning #HomeSchooling #HomeLearning#BeCurious #DrJo ‬

Day 11

The Great Bug Hunt is Open!
If you can, get outside, get in the garden, peek between the paving slabs and see what you can find.
@RoyEntSoc @insectweek #ScienceFromHome#HomeSchooling2020#RemoteLearning#BeCurious#DrJo#DrJoScience

Day 12

Why not find out about animals? Watch these videos about seals from Dr Jo http://ow.ly/B9CO50z1XXb

What else you can find out about animals today?

Day 13

With the sun shining in much of the UK this weekend, why not head outside to explore shadows! Draw around & measure your own shadow (or toys’) at various points during the day. Watch what happens!
#light #shadows #PrimaryScience #DrJoScience #ScienceFromHome#ScienceInYourGarden

Day 14

Can you build the tallest tower out of Lego? Think carefully about your design, how wide to make it, and where to join the blocks. 
#ScienceFromHome #HomeSchooling #HomeSchooling2020#HomeLearning #RemoteLearning #BeCurious #DrJo #DrJoScience

Join in with more science fun to come.

twitter.com/DrJoScience instagram.com/DrJoscience facebook.com/DrJoScience

Daffodil Dissection

Some recent windy weather had left some bent and broken, sad looking daffodils in my garden. So that they didn’t go to waste, I put a few in a vase inside and also thought it would be good to take a closer look. I normally use alstromerias for plant and flower dissections (lots of flowers per plant so plenty for a class), however, daffodils work well too. Just remember to wash your hands well afterwards, or wear gloves, as daffodils can irritate the skin and are poisonous, so keep away from your mouth.

Remember not to pick flowers when you are out and about and always ask a grown up if you can have one from the garden. You could also use tulips or lilies, but these are also poisonous so keep them well away from your mouth and wash your hands really well afterwards or wear gloves.

Taking a closer look

Now, let’s take a closer look at that flower. The daffodil has two layers of petals, including the modified inner corona (crown), or trumpet, which gives the daffodil it’s classic shape. At the base of the flower is a papery covering, called the spathe. this wraps up the bud before the flower is ready to open. You can carefully pick the spathe and the petals off and lay them out so that we can see the shape better. When I’m doing this with children in school, I usually have a piece of double-sided sticky tape across the page so that students can stick the flower parts directly onto it to keep them safe. If you’re doing this at home, you don’t need to stick them down as you are less likely to lose them when there aren’t 30 other children!

You can now see that the corona looks like a tube enclosing the inner part of the flower. Carefully cut or tear this to remove it and lay that out on the piece of paper too. We are left with the inside parts of the flower, the male and female parts, which are needed to make new daffodil plants. 

Arranged around the outside are six stamens, comprising the filament (the stalk-like bit) and the anther – the pollen-covered end. The pollen is needed to fertilise the female part of the plant, to make seeds to grow new plants*.

*As well as growing from seeds, plants such as daffodils, lillies and tulips also grow from bulbs. A bulb is a storage organ, allowing the plant to be dormant over winter and then grow again in spring.

The female part of the plant is called the pistil and comprises the style (the long tube) and the stigma at the top, as well as the ovary and ovules. The stigma is sticky and you might find some grains of pollen stuck here. The pollen then travels down the tube (style) to the ovules inside the ovary at the base of the flower.

The pollen fertilises the ovules to make seeds. 

As the flowers die, the ovary swells as the seeds develop.

You can see all the different parts of the flower laid out on your piece of paper. Can you label them?

As daffodils are insect-pollinated, they rely on insects travelling from flower to flower collecting nectar, picking up pollen from the anthers along the way and depositing it on the stigma of other flowers. Other types of plants might be wind-pollinated, or even use birds or bats (or other insects) to pollinate their flowers!

Another way to get a closer look at the parts of a flower is to carefully cut the flower in half. Ask a grown up to use a sharp knife to carefully cut down the middle, including the ovary and stem. You can see the different parts clearly:

Why don’t you have a go at investigating the different parts of a flower today? You could use a magnifying glass, take a photograph and label it, and have a go at some observational drawing, too.

#ScienceFromHome #ScienceInYourGarden #Daffodil #Dissection #Plants #Year 1 #Year2 #Year3 #Pollination #FloweringPlants #BeCurious #DrJo #DrJoScience #HomeSchooling #DistanceLearning #HomeLearning #HomeSchooling2020 #PrimaryScience #PlantScience #Botany 

A real-life story of a forgotten (female) science pioneer!

I heard the most incredible story from one of my science club children this week (we’re connecting virtually during these times of school closures) about his Great Grandmother.

We have been wearing our lab coats in science club to protect us when we do experiments and Z wanted to tell me that his Great Grandma, Dr Elizabeth Dowsett (known as Dr Betty Dowsett), actually invented a much better lab coat for preventing cross contamination in the lab!

It’s called the Dowsett-Heggie lab coat – although I know it as the Howie labcoat, named after a 1978 report commissioned by the UK Department of Health and Social Security to set out standard clinical laboratory practices, chaired by Howie. Nicknamed the “Howie-Style” coat to indicate its compliance with the provisions of this report, it has wrap over closings, elasticated wrists and a mandarin collar1. I wore this style of lab coat for microbiology practicals when I was at University.

However, Z told me that his Great Grandmother was annoyed at how many male doctors were cross contaminating the samples with their ties and their sleeves touching everything, so she designed a lab coat with slimmed sleeves, elasticated wrists, and a closed neck with poppers for easier access (and quicker removal) than buttons. It also had a pocket for pens. Apparently, she invented it by herself (in 19722) but asked her male colleague, James Heggie, if she could add his name to it as she feared it might not have been published in the medical journals of the time. He reluctantly agreed, although he had nothing to do with the design at all. 

The family knew nothing of this until she died a few years ago and at a memorial for her run by her patient groups (she was a leading researcher of the causes of ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), a member of the Heggie family was there and told them this amazing story about the lab coat.

Dr Xand van Tulleken (Operation Ouch) even tweeted about supporting all the hidden women of science and recognising their achievements after wearing one of Dr Dowsett’s lab coats on TV! 


1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_coat

2 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(72)90988-9/fulltext

Resources for schooling at home #Covid19

I’ve put together a comprehensive set of useful websites and resources for primary science activities, primarily for parents to use with children whilst self isolating/social distancing/supporting schooling at home during the coronavirus situation, but they may also be of use to teachers providing content in schools and online.

You can find them on my website at https://drjosciencesolutions.co.uk/workshops-2/resources/

Have lots of fun – make it memorable, experience-led and not worksheet heavy! I can’t take responsibility for content of external sites. Stay safe – and wash your hands!

Oh my goodness, Dr Jo has won an award!

I was absolutely delighted to win the STE(A)M Education Blog Award at last week’s @NexusEd #NexusAwards2020 for my post on where to find help and support for teaching primary science

In 2019, Nexus Education asked me to write a guest blog post for them on primary science. Inspired by a keynote lecture I gave at a Science Learning Partnership Primary Science conference last summer, I decided to consolidate my thoughts and suggestions for primary science coordinators and primary teachers on where to go for resources for planning, teaching and assessing primary science. It’s a bumper post signposting useful organisations, websites, resources, ideas and individuals.

Teachers are busy people. I like helping people. Especially fellow teachers. I’m honoured that this blog post was so well received and is offering help and advice, and I’m even more delighted to have won an award for it. Thank you so much Nexus Education.

You can watch the awards ceremony here (I’m on just before 1:16:00)

You can read the original post here: https://www.nexus-education.com/find-help-support-primary-science/

As educators, there’s always more to learn and I’ve been busy collating further ideas and suggestions so watch this space for an update coming soon!

#PrimaryScience #STEM #STEAM #primaryschoolscience #primaryschoolscienceworkshop #scienceteacher #primaryteacher #scienceeducation #STEMed #STEMeducation #UKedChat #DrJo #DrJoScience #BeCurious #teachersfollowteachers #NexusEd #NexusAwards2020 #sharingiscaring

Kitchen Science – a guest blog post

It’s only 4 weeks until British Science Week and so I was approached by home educating experts, The World Is Their Classroom, to write about some easy to do ‘kitchen science’ experiments to prepare for science week.

I’ve put together some fun and thought-provoking ideas for a guest blog post for their followers – but it’s full of great ideas and explanations for teachers, schools, parents, children and home educators alike.

You can find the kitchen science guest post by Dr Jo here and some sneak peak photos below.

#schools #schoolscience #primaryschoolscience #primaryscience #STEMeducation #homeeducation #scienceiseverywhere #scienceteacher #scienceisfun #kitchen science #kitchen chemistry #solidsliquidsgases #chemicalreaction #changingstates #chromatography #pH #acidsandalkalis #fizzingpotions #effervescence #density #viscosity #BeCurious #DrJo #DrJoScience

Reflections and highlights from ASE conference 2020

I’ve just come back from the Association for Science Education (ASE) Annual conference #ASEconf2020, this year at Reading University. It’s an inspiring, if exhausting, coming together of science educators to share ideas and passion. It’s an excellent chance to be inspired and challenged to think, to network and share best practice. As well as enjoying some fantastic sessions from others, I also made my #ASE presenting debut this year and ran a session on practical primary science (see below). 

In addition to a useful and informative exhibition, there are so many concurrent sessions, that it’s difficult to get to everything you want to. Here are some of my highlights:

I had the pleasure of hearing Lynne Bianchi’s keynote speech on ‘connecting the dots’ in our own personal professional journeys, including the amazing Great Science Share for Schools, a free, inclusive, non-competitive, child-centered annual event.

Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) fellows Paul Tyler and Alison Trew showcased their latest #CuttingEdgeScience #IBetYouDidntKnow resources to inspire Primary Science – taking current research topics, summarising them to make them accessible and designing accompanying activities for primary pupils, such as the design a sieve activity to separate everyday items such as pasta and rice, to help understand the graphene sieve innovation to provide clean drinking water.

I also popped into the Science and Plants in Schools (SAPS) drop in Lab to explore a plethora of plant science based enquiry, most of it aimed at secondary, but also plenty of ideas to adapt to fit the primary curriculum and extend the plant workshops I already offer.

During the Primary Teachmeet, there was an opportunity to meet and network with new and old connections and to hear updates on resources, such as:

  • #FarmerTime – the initiative previously known as #FaceTimeaFarmer linking real life farmers with school children to enhance the curriculum
  • The related @NFUEducation offering #Farming STEMterprise
  • Updates on new features on the Explorify website
  • #TopicalScienceUpdates a free summary of topical science stories for a primary audience from @Glazgow
  • How @CLEAPSS_Primary can support risk assessments and health and safety in schools
  • New environmental resources from  Practical Action
  • STEM careers linked to topics in the primary curriculum from @SciKathryn
  • New activities from @Gratnells #WhatsInMyTray

I finally got to meet two online twitter contacts in real life in the final session of the conference for Rose Edmondson and Liz Chilvers’ session offering guidance on running a STEM club in school. They gave lots of information on why and how to run a STEM club, including lots of go-to activities which work well. 

Practical primary Science with Dr Jo

My session, called Practical Primary Science with Dr Jo, was well attended (something I’m thankful for as there is so much to experience at #aseconf and the way the packed schedule is devised means that there are often clashes of similar topics and you never quite know who will turn up!) and my attendees were enthusiastic and joined in with the hands-on activities. The session focused on the key themes of encouraging discovery/investigation and questioning in children, addressing misconceptions and sequencing learning, all via practical activities as examples to highlight points and as a scaffold to the narrative. I talk and explain as I go, demonstrating and providing opportunities for hands-on learning and dual coding, whilst making children – and adults – think!

Feedback from attendees suggests that they valued the opportunity to get hands-on with practical activities, including some new tweaks to tried and tested ideas and the prompts to think about sequencing learning. There was a mix of experience in the room, including in years of service, keystage and country of teaching. Through a mixture of differentiation, direct teaching, scaffolding, extension and paired work, everyone was supported to achieve and learn something!

As a bit of background for those who don’t know me, I’m a qualified primary teacher and a research scientist, with more than 20 years experience delivering science in schools with children and for teacher CPD. I’m passionate about practical science and about maximising it’s impact. It’s not just about taking a practical activity out of the box and running with it. You need to really understand the science about what’s happening, and why, in order to encourage questioning and address any misconceptions. I find that interleaving knowledge-rich content, with context and explicit instructions works well to ensure children understand and know what they are doing. It’s about ensuring that children are learning the things we want/need them to learn. There’s always a place for open ended discovery – indeed that is how we learn about many things – but when addressing a specific learning objective within the curriculum, it’s important that children learn that mixing an acid and an alkali results in a chemical reaction producing carbon dioxide gas if that’s what the teaching is, and not just “We mixed some things and it fizzed”.

If you’ve read this far, then thanks for your endurance! The ASE Annual conference is a welcoming, inclusive, vibrant and busy event with something for everyone. It’s incredible CPD. If you haven’t been before then do look out for Birmingham 2021 and I hope to see you there!

#ASE #ASEconf2020 #PrimaryScience #PriSci #DrJo #DrJoScience #BeCurious #handsonscience #scienceisforeveryone #scienceiseverywhere #STEMed #STEMeducation #scienceed #scienceeducation #UKEdChat #ASEchat #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram #teachersonfacebook #teachertwitter #tweachers #scienceteacher #teachingideas #EYFS #year1 #year2 #year3 #year4 #year5 #year6 #primary #schools #education #science #STEM

Visit www.drjosciencesolutions.co.uk/workshops to see if there’s workshop I can provide to support your current teaching topics.