Gratnells names Science Technician of the Year 2020

The Gratnells Science Technician of the Year Award 2020 has been awarded to Stacey Wheeler from Mounts Bay Academy in Penzance, Cornwall.

Now in its twelfth year, the competition is open to science technicians working in Education across the world. The judging panel, consisting of esteemed industry professionals, look for evidence of individuals who go ‘above and beyond’ in their daily work - Science Technicians who embrace their work, enjoy the challenges and look to offer continuous improvement in the services they deliver.

Health and Safety for Science Course

Health & Safety for Science Technicians (FREE for Members!)

This is an unmediated self-study course consisting of 4 video presentations interspersed with DIY tasks.  As it is a trial the course is free of charge. Your feedback is important as it will help with the development of this and other online courses, so please leave feedback when prompted at the end of the course.

If you are a member of CLEAPSS the course is FREE. Further details of membership and how to enrol can be found here


Question for today?

Everyone working in schools in UK should be prioritised for coronavirus testing. 

In the Government news conference 9th November in Downing Street England's the Deputy Chief Medical Office Jonathan Van-Tam announced a provisional priority list of groups of people to receive the vaccine. On the understanding the list is preliminary and may be revised, and given the Prime Minister's determination to keep schools and universities open, it was very obvious that Teachers and even non-teaching staff were missing from that list.

So the question for today is

Should Teachers and non-teaching staff on any Government list be given the same (or similar) priority as Patients in Care homes and Care working staff?

Teachers call for school closures to avoid a longer lockdown in England

Thousands of teachers and support staff have backed a campaign to close schools and colleges as part of England's new lockdown to tackle the rising cases of coronavirus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a month-long lockdown in England from Thursday but has said that schools, colleges and universities will remain open.

More than 150,000 teachers and support staff have backed the National Education Union’s (NEU) campaign to close schools and colleges during lockdown, warning that they could be an “engine for virus transmission". It comes as a leading medical figure warned that not closing secondary schools could lead to a longer lockdown.

The National Education Union (NEU) has called for schools and colleges to close for most students as part of the new month-long lockdown for England, while remaining open only for children of key workers and vulnerable children. This campaign has been supported by more than 150,000 teachers and support staff since it was launched two days ago, the union said on Monday.

The NEU has also called for rota systems – where students spend some time in school followed by time at home – to be introduced when lockdown ends.

Read more on this article here... [Independent|Education News]

What do you know?

Our Wiki are is a fantastic area that allows you to place your technician experience and knowledge in an web environment that is easily searchable by everybody across the world. It allows you to help your fellow professional colleagues by passing on what you know about doing your job or perhaps your specialised experience on a topic. Here are some example of colleagues who have contributed to our Wiki. You are invited to try it out now for yourself.

Aluminium foil strip is used to create a speaker.
This is a simple to construct example of the motion of a conductor in a magnetic field.
It is useful to illustrate electromagnetic induction or sound waves. It may also be of sufficient interest to act as an open-day idea as the students are often impressed with the simplicity of the set-up.
This is more likely to be used as a demo.

A barometer is an instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure.

The offending item, a rather poor photo of the 'as found' state, standing at just over a metre tall the barometer was intact, all apart from the glass column being broken. The reservoir was still full of mercury, and this was probably why it had escaped the dustbin. Nobody had been bothered to empty it for disposal, so it spent years hidden behind a cupboard until my discovery. The main body of the barometer was removed from its backing board, and after removing 4 very small brass screws the protective casing around the column was removed. This revealed that the glass column was, indeed, broken and would need to be replaced.

After breakage of our official Hero's engine, I decided to try a cheaper version.

First, take one 330 ml drinks can. Over a sink, make two holes in opposite sides with an optical pin (or other long pin/needle). Bend the holes with the pin so the vents are opposing. This rough sketch shows you how to shape them. DO NOT open the can using the ring pull. Other than the two holes, the can must remain a sealed vessel.

ASE Good Practical Science - Making it happen

One of the sharp changes to this academic year is how different schools are approaching Practical Science. Many Schools are "playing safe" and simply doing demo versions of each practical, while some are doing nothing at all! A few have taken the plunge, carried out the appropriate risk management and put in place good housekeeping and control measure and are satisfactorily doing at or close to their normal practical work.

ASE has published key recommendations for practical science in a post-lockdown world. It is called “Good Practical Science - making it happen post-Covid-19”. It features a series of key recommendations that ASE urge all science educators to consider in light of the current issues that all schools are currently facing.

Many of the teachers and technicians surveyed (about 900 in total) were not satisfied with their school or college provision for practical work during lockdown. Many were anticipating a big reduction in the frequency of practical work when schools reopened, with perhaps as much as 20% of examination classes (GSCE and A level) experiencing no practical science at all.

This document should be read alongside CLEAPSS GL343 and other associated CLEAPSS documents

Download the document from here -

Job Vacancy

Job vacancy for an experienced school chemistry Technician at Burgess Hill Girls, West Sussex.
Closing date 16/9/20. Lovely school and chemistry department. Please see link below for details.

Are you stuck?

Every technician will have their own method of removing stubborn stoppers from glassware, for example, a volumetric flask. Here are a few ideas; The usual safety considerations should be observed. Make sure that you are wearing appropriate ppe gear like heavy duty gloves. Glassware that shatters can cut or lacerate the skin. So make sure that you exercise a higher degree of care in terms of mounting or holding the glassware in your hand before attempting to remove any stuck stopper. Be aware of remedial measure in the event of any accidents due to cuts.


  • If stoppers etc are stuck in glassware, spray a little WD40 into a small beaker then using a pipette put some on the joint and let it soak in. Usually that usually loosens stoppers.
  • Alternatively, If it is the type of plastic stopper that volumetric flasks use try turning it the other way. When you put them in you give them a slight turn to lock them, turning them the other way unlocks them. I picked that tip up from someplace in the past.
  • If you don't mind destroying your stopper then, if it a plastic stopper, you can drill it out as a last resort. A number of small holes joined up to give one big hole. Then use a pad saw to cut a slice out.
  • If somebody has been stupid enough to place a glass stopper in a bottle of alkali then a few drops of dilute acid in place of WD40 might work.
  • Run the stopper/flask under a hot tap for a few minutes, the heat might just expand the flask enough to loosen the stopper.
  • Gently tap a glass stopper with another glass stopper, the shock sometimes loosens it.
  • If the glass tap of a separating funnel or the plunger and shaft of a glass gas syringe becomes stuck together, place the dried item in a sealed plastic bag and place in the freezer for at least an hour. Let it be for a minute after removing it from the freezer, then the contraction of the cold glass should be just enough to allow you to gently free the tap or syringe. (It may be advisable to wear safety spec and gloves in case of breakage but I have not had one yet)