Author: s1641504

Drawbacks and Developments

My Arthur’s Seat bedroom view as I write this post. The sunset can be beautiful, if you’re lucky.


It’s been around a month since my first blog post and I feel quite happy to say that some things have changed and I’m on a slightly different path than before, in regards to the project.

I had a meeting with JC and Brian, who are my project supervisors, in order to talk about some of the ideas I had and their thoughts on them.

I had big ideas of creating a video series, which could be watched in the home or at school with fun science experiments full of explosions and reactions, which the child (or adult!) could then recreate. While discussing this idea, a few drawbacks and issues came up.

The first issue being that not all people have access to a computer, the internet, or internet fast enough to run a video in their classroom or home. Growing up in an environment where after 2010 none of these things would have been an issue to me definitely blinded me to the reality that not everyone is as lucky as I am and as I was growing up. 

The current situation, with many people relying on laptops and their internet connection in order to receive their education, has shone a light on this issue. I definitely want my project to be as accessible as possible and experiments that require someone to be spending money on equipment they might not ever use again, and might not even be able to access in the first place due to internet speed is not really something I’d want to do.

Another issue is that sitting a group of kids down to watch a video, and then getting them to repeat exactly what’s in the video isn’t teaching them a lot or getting them to learn for themselves. Ideally I want to create something that’s not just fun to recreate, but also has the participants think through things and learning, instead of passively copying things they have read on a board or computer screen. 

My last issue, it’s not extremely innovative. If you Google “kids science experiments”, there are 900 million results, with 70 million of them being videos. If a teacher or parent wanted to have a class where they show a video and have the children repeat the experiment, there are literally millions of videos to go for. 


However, JC had a suggestion. He send me a DropBox folder full of pictures and resources for a Harry Potter themed day he had hosted at multiple venues, for adults and children, and asked me if I’d be interested in developing them for the classroom or for home use.

The resources were full of Harry Potter experiments and activities, pretty similar to the type of experiments I had been wanting to do in the first place, so I said yes. I went away and wrote a rough draft for 4 lesson ideas, careful that any resources needed could be easily found in the supermarket, or already on the kitchen shelves. 

JC and Brian were quite happy with the ideas I had produced, and with some guidance I have decided to cut a few things down (particularly the messy things), and I’m aiming to create something that can be published as part of Edinburgh Uni’s resources for schools. There also might be the opportunity to work with a nearby school and deliver a box of resources to have them put on the activities for an afternoon. I’m very keen on getting some results from what I eventually create, as well as some feedback, so I’m particularly excited about that. 

Due to the Covid-19 rules and regulations, it will be pretty much impossible to go into a school to host any activities or lessons, so I’m going to focus on making my resources as clear and comprehensive as possible. My aim is to have something that can be repeated in classrooms across the country, if they so choose, without there needing to be any input from myself.

My exams aren’t really that far off, so I’m not sure exactly how much more work I’ll be able to put into the project before January, but I’m happy to have settled on an idea and have a firm direction on where I want to take it. I’m excited to be doing something that I really want to go well and to put a lot of work into.

See you next time,


Ideas and Introductions

The first post is the hardest apparently, so I’ve decided to jump into the deep end and go for it.

I’ll start off with a little about me and why I decided to enroll on the Geoscience (and Physics!) Outreach Project course.

I’m a fourth year (out of five) Physics MPhys student at the University of Edinburgh, which means that this year I get to take on my first big project. However, this year we were offered the chance to join the GeoScience students on their outreach course- for the first time ever.

I knew immediately that I would prefer an outreach project over the research and experimental projects that are usually on offer. During a year out between high school and university I spent time working in an underprivileged school in Santiago, Chile. During this time I worked as a teaching assistant in the English department, encouraging the children at the school to continue learning English, creating fun lessons and taking some stress off of the overworked teachers. 

With this experience in mind, I knew that an outreach project would be extremely rewarding for me and an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. After an information session, phone call, and nerve wracking interview, I received the exciting news that I was in! 

So far we’ve had 4 (virtual) workshops. One introductory, one on blogging, one on active learning and one on the Scottish Educational System. I’ve found it extremely refreshing to be doing something quite different to my usual degree programme. The workshops provide a break in the week and I’ve enjoyed getting to speak to students from other courses, including GeoSciences and Archeology. 

I found the workshop on the Scottish Educational System quite interesting. Having been brought up within the system and Curriculum for Excellence myself, I expected to know everything in the session already and it would just be for the benefit of the students from outside Scotland, but learning the “behind the scenes” of the system was really beneficial. Knowing how teachers are expected to structure their lessons to fit within the curriculum will really help me to create my project and work together with my client. 

Speaking of the project, I’m excited to soon be finding out who my client is and be able to start work on it. I have some ideas but at the moment they’re slightly chaotic and not very well organised. I would love to be able to go into a school and do some practical experiments with the children and let them really have fun while learning about science. However, with the ongoing Covid situation, I don’t want to plan anything that requires me being there. Therefore, my next thought is to make an online video series (à la CrashCourse, minutephysics, or PhysicsGirl – all great science communicators) where I perform the experiments and talk about the science behind them, and write a lesson plan or instructions for the children to repeat them in the classroom. However I do want to be aware that not all schools have the equipment or budget for doing lots of fun experiments- and 30 children setting off a baking soda volcano might not be the most fun for some teachers. I have some other ideas, like holding a family fun-day exhibition about the solar system, planets and other aspects of our Universe, or like creating a guide to the Edinburgh night sky, where people can learn about what’s going on right above their heads. 

I think what I need to do first is have a look at some of the final projects from previous students to have an idea of what will work, and what won’t. I’m excited to keep developing these ideas and hopefully at the end being able to produce something that’ll be fun and useful to educators and learners as well!


See you next time,



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