What is the Chemistry Factory?
The Chemistry Factory is in its early stages of development. It is a joint venture between the Birmingham Schools Science Team and the School of Chemistry Birmingham.
In January 2009 the city opened its Physics Factory located at KE Five Ways School. The appointment of a full time Director of Learning has enabled us to significantly improve our provision for teacher and technician CPD as well as support PGCE and ITT students.
In addition the centre offers tuition for GCSE physics for students from schools across the city. The Physics Factory has proved to be so popular that expansion to another centre is desperately needed to meet the demand from schools for tuition (for KS4 and post-16 courses) and for teacher CPD.
Following the high profile success of The Physics Factory teachers from across the city wanted the development of a chemistry equivalent to supports their needs. The addition of a chemistry factory would also provide great opportunities to work across disciplines.
During the summer of 2009 a pilot Chemistry Factory programme ran developed by the Science Team and School of Chemistry. The programme, based around bio-fuels and hydrogen cells, was so well received that we have no alternative other than to make sure that the concept of a Chemistry Factory becomes a reality.
The existing support model offered by the pilot Chemistry Factory is currently confined to the summer term and we would seek to find a location and staffing where work can be conducted at any time of the year.
Both organisations are committed in their support for the agendas of ‘Aim Higher’, Widening Participation, SIIF and STEM. We are convinced that the Chemistry Factory will be a practical way to make a real difference to students and across the city and beyond.
(science and innovation investment framework) (science, technology, engineering, maths)
What will the Chemistry Factory do?
1. To stimulate interest in and a passion for chemistry
2. Up-skill the teacher & technician work force at all levels of experience
3. Provide unique and stimulating ‘cutting edge’ experiences for school students
4. Create effective links between schools and the University / HE
Work in progress for 2010-11
• To enhance our reputation as an established provider of high quality CPD for teachers
• Provide bespoke chemistry training for science teachers / departments to keep their practice up to date and engaging
• Develop KS4 chemistry resources for GCSE and Vocational courses
• Develop KS5 chemistry resources for GCE and Vocational courses
• Improve the life prospects of more students to study post-16 & HE
• Provide enrichment for the KS3 national curriculum
• Undertake action research informing teaching and learning
• Provide tuition for curriculum areas that are ‘difficult to do’ in schools
• Create local industrial links
• Liaise with STEM coordinators for HE & secondary schools.
• Further develop the ‘How Science Works’ week alongside NSEW
• Provide access to ‘cutting edge’ chemistry and interdisciplinary development
• Organise out-reach opportunities for “experts” from the HE
• Create a KS5 transition group (preparing KS4 students for post-16 / A Levels)
Birmingham is a Science City and seeks to raise the profile of science at all levels across the region.
We have a supportive City Council and the Local Authority is the largest in Europe with 100 secondary education providers.
The Science advisers from neighbouring LAs are becoming involved in the work of the Chemistry Factory to broaden its scope beyond the city.
A Regional Coordinator based at the School of Chemistry would be whole-heartedly supported by the LA Science Team, Birmingham Science City and the University.
The appointee would benefit from the infra-structure of the RSC at a national level and the Chemistry Factory more locally.
John Booth (Birmingham Science Adviser)
Sandy Wilkinson (Lead for the Chemistry Factory Project)