Making indicators

It is really easy to make your own indicators to show if a chemical is an acid, neutral or alkali. This experiment can be done without a Science lab, and can be adapted to be a sensory experience as well.

You will need:

beetroot, red cabbage and/or blackberries. Boiling water. A range of acids/alkalis to test.

To make the indicator, chop up your beetroot etc into small cubes. Add to boiling water and let stand until the colour has come out into the water.  Remove the lumps, preferably by filtering (practice those practical skills) and let the coloured liquid cool.

You can then add this to a range of acids/alkalis and look for the colour change. These work best if they are colourless and can include:

acid – lemon juice, vinegar, lemonade

alkali – bicarbonate of soda, glass cleaner

To make this a more sensory experience, encourage students to smell each of the chemicals that are being used. They can taste the acids, before they add a bit of their indicator to observe the colour change.

You can make all three indicators and then compare results, which do students think is the best? Can they think of any applications for this?


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What does sewing mean to me

This is my response to the question posed by Naomi – What does sewing mean to you?


I sew because I am (was) a Guide. This is the first sewing project I really undertook, although it is not (quite) all my own work. It was my Grandad’s army blanket – my sister has the matching pair – and my Nan sewed on the first 20 or so badges. I have had it since the age of ten, and now, at 39, it is ‘finished’. Well, it’s never quite finished, but I think it’s full. Over the years I have sewed on badges that have been swapped at local, national an international levels, those that I have bought at camps or events or places I have visited, and those that have belong to other people. It started with a ring of badges around the edge, and has worked it’s way to the middle, with many badges having been re-positioned over the years. It is a talking point on camp, a conversation starter as we compare badges, and a gigantic memory of fun times with others. It was on my bed when I was at university, as a way of staying connected to home.

My stitches have definitely improved over the years!


As you can see, this piece was completed in the summer of 1996. I was 18, and had just started work on my Queen’s Guide Award. One of the sections required that I started a new personal skill, and developed it. My Queen’s Guide Advisor enjoyed cross stitch, and suggested this was something that I could do. I liked the poem, and designed the whole piece. Each of the images around the edge mean something and are related to that summer – Orchestra tour, first aider on Brownie pack holiday, camping with PHAB, a trip to Dominican republic and a summer romance. The mice also have a meaning, but I cannot recall (or find the piece of paper that explains it, which I thought was attached to the back. It’s probably inside the frame…). There’s a bee amongst the flowers, and finally my initials and a reminder it was for my Queen’s Guide.


I completed a couple of large scale kits during my time at University, and then life as a teacher got in the way. About five years ago, I started taking regualar train journeys with a friend. Some days we’d sit and chat, other days we’d gaze out of the window, but most days we’d do both, which meant reading was out of the question. I found instead a small cross stitch kit that I had, and tucked that into my bag. I can sew and chat at the same time, and it feels like I’m keeping busy. This moved on to sewing on the train regardless of who I was (or wasn’t) with; it’s a good conversation starter, if that is what you are after. I find that stitching helps me to switch off, you have to be concentrating or else it all goes wrong, and feel a sense of achievement when I finish, as I have never been particularly ‘arty’. Once framed though, these cross stitches become art, and are something to be proud of.


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Russ Cowley #OnFire

With over 640 games and nearly 100 goals, Russ Cowley’s career with the Blaze spans 15 years. As well as playing, he has almost finished his PhD looking at fan response to transgression in sport at Coventry University.

For three seasons, he played alongside Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart – how easy was it to make the transition from team mates to coach? “At the beginning it was a little strange,” explained Russ. “I think we’re both different people than when we played together – him as a coach and me as a player. We both have more experience. He handled things well when he came in and had meetings with guys that were coming back and told us what he was here to do. He also said what role he wanted me to fill as a player. For me, and the way I look at life, he’s the coach and that’s how I see him, regardless of me playing alongside him previously. I don’t look at him any different to anyone else in the room.”

Russ is known as being Mr Versatile. He is confident playing as a forward or as a defender, and has been known to switch during a game due to injuries. Is this an easy thing to do? Russ laughed, “I said I wanted to do one shift as goalie and then I have played everywhere! I think it’s tough when you swap positions. You have no time to get within your comfort zone within a position, you have to start thinking about all the set plays of what your job is, off any draw, in any zone and that’s whether I’m switching as a forward position or going back on the back end. You have to read the game as a D man to get a good gap between you and the rush that’s coming at you. Once I start playing in a position for a longer period of time it becomes easier because I get in the comfort zone, and get to know my line mates. Swapping a lot is tough, but like I say you get more comfortable being in one position. I’ve been playing defence since November now.  I guess some players wouldn’t be able to do it, the way my head thinks as a forward I think defensively. I skate well and I can read the game as a D man well. After me, the only other person who could do that would be Robbo, but he brings so much up front. In the last few years, one of the things that helps this team and one of the reasons the club has me back is that I can go back there if we get injuries. I do prefer playing as a forward, but I’ve always been one of those players -if there’s a gap I’ll fill it.”

It’s been a busy year for Russ, as well as playing he’s been working hard to complete his PhD and had to fit in family time as well. He explained “It’s been tricky this year. I’ve noticed the difference, I rarely have a day off a week. Obviously, we have Sophia, so when Rachel has her commitments I’m being a Dad. Otherwise, I’m here at the rink or working. I enjoy being a dad a lot. The joy that a child brings, it’s amazing. At home, she loves hockey. If I stick hockey on something she’ll say ‘hockey, hockey’, and sit there and watch it with me. She loves coming to the games, she talks about hockey. If I wear something with the Blaze or GB logo, she gets excited. As soon as I’ve got my gear on she’s frightened. I’ve even taken my helmet off to show her it’s me. It kills me that she’s frightened of me in hockey gear – I was hoping to take her into the room, but I can’t. I don’t know if it because what she sees on the ice makes her uncertain. I don’t smell like daddy – that could be why she’s saying no altogether!”

As ever, conversations at this time of year turn to the future, both long and short term. Russ said, “I’ve played over 600 games for the club in 15 years, I’m looking at my options for the end of the season, as my PhD will be finished by then. I’m looking at going into consultancy probably, I’m taking a long look at that route. I have enjoyed the research side of things for my PhD, I guess there’s a lot of doors open for me now. While I’m not totally certain, we’ll see what happens. When I do decide to hang my skates up I haven’t said no in my head to maybe moving into coaching, but I’ve done ten years at University and I haven’t done that to not put that to use. But never say never to having something on the side where I can help out perhaps. There will be certain priorities that have to come first!”


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#OnFire – Klotz

Standing at 6’5”, Garrett Klotz is one of the taller players to ice for the Blaze this season. Coming from the ECHL in North America, the Canadian brings a wealth of experience to the team. It helps, that as a forward, he is not afraid to use his size and fight when necessary. This has made him very popular with the fans, and he’s even scored a few goals as well!

How is it, playing on the fourth line? Klotz said, “It’s great, I’m more a role player, so I’ve always been on the third or fourth line, so I’m used to it. Here in the Elite League I’m getting more ice time than I’m used to, so I’m trying to take advantage of it and doing the most I can with the time. That includes a goal every once in a while, so that always helps. I’m not here to score, I’m here to take care of the boys and bring a physical aspect to the game. Whenever I score it’s a bonus.”

You’ve made a name for yourself as an enforcer. How do you feel about fighting? “I’ve been doing it my whole pro hockey career, so it’s nothing new to me. I don’t mind it. I kind of enjoy it. some nights it is not easy, but it’s my job so I accept it,” he explained.

Usually, in the Elite League, teams employ a defenseman who acts as an enforcer. Klotz playing as a forward is a slight departure from what a lot of us are used to. Does he see this as being unusual? Klotz shrugged. “It depends. Defensemen are known to more physical, but there are other forwards who are enforcers. I just do what I can. Usually they want the forwards to score, but in my case I try and do both.”

Speaking of which, how is the scoring going? He smiled, “It’s my second-best scoring season ever.  I’ve got six goals and two assists so far, I’m going to try and finish the season with ten – that’s my aim, ten goals and ten assists. We’ll see how it goes. There’s 18 games left so I’m going to try and finish strong and hope for the best.”

What made you decide to come to Coventry? Klotz explained, “My friend Garrett Zemlak played in the Elite League – he was netminder for Fife, Braehead and Belfast – and he put me in touch with Danny Stewart as he had played with him in Fife. Danny asked in the summer if I wanted to come overseas – I looked it up on the internet and had a chat with other guys I’ve played with who played here before, like Jim Jorgensen. They said it was a good city and there were lots of positives, so I agreed to come here.”

He continued, “it’s a good city with a good fan base. the fans here are a bit more intense than they are back home – they are die hard and I really enjoy it, and spending time with them.”

Like most hockey players from North America, Klotz appreciates the opportunities to travel from the UK. “Obviously, we’ve travelled with the team, that was fun, going to Belfast and to Scotland. I’ve been to London a few times too. After the season I’m hoping to get across to Europe and then maybe head over to Thailand.”

Klotz keeps busy when he’s not on the ice. “I just go to the rink in the mornings and train on the ice. In the afternoons I go to the gym and do some off-ice training, and in the evenings I hang out with the boys, play some cards or read. We went bowling with the fans recently, which was fun. It’s nice to get some downtime and just relax in the evenings.”

As Garrett has reminded us, the season is drawing to a close, and players are starting to think about next year. He said “I’ll take the future as it comes. I haven’t really thought too much into it. I’ll do what I can here, finish strong and finish on a positive note, and see what comes my way.”

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#aseconf Science with picture books

Recommend journal of emergent science (on ase website)

Looking at science in children’s story books. Focusing on science inaccuracies (many teachers will use these stories unaware of these)  and focusing on why did that happen in a story line.

Why should we use fictional picture books to explore science at primary school ? Metaphorical language. Children blur imagination and reality.

? Link between teaching literature (interpret, debate) and improvement of understanding of science.

  • Pictures need to be prominent
  • Dialogue and conflict
  • Consistent simple  plot with proper logic
  • Narrative problem linked to scientific problem

Use e.g. section of book to prompt discussion, raise misconceptions . Will link to what pupils already know

Children find it hard to put themselves in something/ someone else’s place to draw from their perspective

e.g. fish is fish . Tadpoles promise.  Very hungry caterpillar. Seven blind mice.  On the seesaw bridge

Can compare first and last double pages of each book

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#aseconf exploring chemistry in send schools

Royal society of chemistry funded a project to develop six experiments that are hands on and accessible to all. Based on exploring materials

Contains prep sheet,  practical list, symbol worksheets

– each lesson delivered three times.  Once as a new activity, then to develop skills,  confidence and knowledge, consolidate

Use gloves for tactile defensive,  cut holes in gloves in later sessions. Can also use Ziploc bags.

Will eventually be available free to download on national stem learning website

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#aseconf science fun for SEND

States of matter.  Use dry ice.  Add flavours.  Engage all senses.

Shadow puppets.  Use gruffalos child as stimulus.  Transparent,  translucent, opaque materials. Animal ear headbands to explore shadows bigger and smaller.  Spectrum glasses.

Science hunters–  engaging through computer  games.  Minecraft. Working with NAS, engaging children once a fortnight.  Has been found to increase social communication skills.  Also helps to show some abstract science concepts and leads to further discussion

Science from the start–  hands on practical activities . Ice play.  Snow dough (cornflour , oil, glitter). Creative workshops, child led, flexible,  sensory.

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