Nick Swift is from The Association of Science Education which runs the website SchoolScience.co.uk. He has been working with BAMA for many years to promote aerosol Science and Technology to schools. Nick is this month’s guest blogger.
If you work in the education business you are constantly bombarded by messages from industry, universities and government about the shortage of scientists, engineers and mathematicians. Dozens of websites and schemes are set up to try to solve the problem. None of them do any harm and many are excellent, but all too often they are schemes that will run for a while and then fade away.
The fact is that teachers need to be informed about how science is applied in the real world. I run the website www.schoolscience.co.uk and Twitter account @schoolscience that does just this. We channel scientific news to schools and create original learning resources. Much of science can be dry theory. Our aim is to show how the theory is applied.
When I was asked by BAMA to create teaching resources about aerosols, I jumped at the chance to show how that ubiquitous little can explains a lot of basic science. The index page is here http://www.schoolscience.co.uk/aerosolsindex
To gather the information required took many discusssions with the experts at BAMA and several visits to aerosol companies where I managed to grasp most of the technology. I learned that aerosols look simple and they are simple. The hard part is making billions of them cheaply. Getting into those companies was arranged by BAMA and was crucial to the project. No matter how much internet research you do, there is no substitute for seeing the processes and talking to employees. Some of those employees are featured in the resource.
The resource has to match the science curriculum, so the main issues are vapour pressure, ideal gas pressure, the pressure law, Boyle’s Law and resistance welding. There is a simple treatment of droplet size. Wherever possible, clear pictures and videos have been used. There are question pages and help with pressure units.
The web pages are created in a way that makes the resource editable, so if you have better pictures, more process detail, or any ideas for improving the resource, please get in touch with BAMA and we can look at editing the resource to include them. Comments on the resource are welcome too.
And finally… a story.
Once upon a time I was in Leeds city centre when a new construction project was creating pile foundations. The biggest pile drill I have ever seen was just starting up. Two teenage girls walked past the site entrance. One was awestruck at this massive machine and tried to get her friend to look. Her friend was impatient to get on and never gave the machine a glance. I watched them walk on and wondered if the awestruck girl would study civil engineering, get a £45k starting salary and travel the world.
We can never interest everyone in science and engineering, but giving them access to information at least gives everyone a chance.