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Focus on Science - Mrs Canterbury

Name: Mrs L Canterbury

What is your favourite science field to teach and why?
Any lesson which involves setting fire to things or taking something apart works for me! Science is all about discovery and my favourite sort of lesson is one where my pupils are actively involved in exciting and relevant practical work to answer those burning questions such as “Which one of these crisps is the most flammable?”, “How good is my saliva at digesting starch?” or “can this elastic band store enough energy to twang this rubber right across the lab?” .

How did you become interested in science?
Like all babies, I was a natural experimenter from the minute I could sit up on my own. My parents were really encouraging of my early investigations, taking me to various museums and letting me make loads of mess in the garden and kitchen. At school, being dyslexic, the practical lessons really appealed to me and science was a lesson I could succeed in. This really helped me to grow as a learner which had a positive effect on my achievement in other areas of the curriculum.

Tell us a science based joke?
Three atoms were having lunch together. Sodium looked really sad. “What’s the matter?” Asked Chlorine. “I think I’ve lost an electron” replied Sodium. Chlorine was worried, “are you sure?” he asked. “Yes” replied Sodium, “I’m positive”.

What British scientist would you put on a £50 note and why?
Aida Lovelace or Mary Anning. Both of these ladies are an inspiration to all would-be scientists and neither were able to take the credit for their discoveries in their own life times.  I think it would be fitting to honour them now so that their names become as ubiquitous as Newton or Einstein.

Tell us a funny story from the classroom or lab.
In 2015, prior to the eclipse of the sun, we had purchased loads of eclipse viewing goggles and I had been making a big deal about viewing it safely. Generally blowing the Science Trumpet and working the pupils up to a frenzy of excitement about what they would hear and see during the eclipse. It was all we talked about for a solid week. The big day arrived and we all trouped out onto the games fields to witness it in all it’s glory. The whole school and all the teachers were staring at the cloudy sky through their safety goggles for a good 10 minutes. It was so dark and cloudy, no one could tell where the sun actually was so they were all looking in different directions. One year 4 pupil piped up “Has it happened yet?”. One hour later there was glorious sunshine. The Head Girl mentioned it in her leaving speech two years later. I am never going to live it down.

Should more be done to inspire young people to consider science for a career and why?
There are already a lot of STEM and STEAM resources and schemes to help inspire young people into a career in science. I think more needs to be done to encourage scientists into teaching so that those resources can be put to good use. Teaching is very hard work and good scientists are able to have very lucrative careers in industry or research. It is foolish to rely on the altruism of a few to inspire the next generation. The world will always need more scientists and people who have been trained to think and work scientifically can be very successful in a wide range of careers. Science isn’t just a subject, it’s a state of mind!