The ENTHUSE Celebration Awards recognise teachers, technicians, support staff, ENTHUSE Partnerships and schools and colleges who have shown commitment to continuing professional development (CPD), which in turn, has improved young people’s achievements and progression in STEM.

At STEM Learning, we believe in recognising those who are dedicated to CPD and our awards are designed to celebrate those who have benefitted from it. Find out more information here..

If you want to know what’s really going on in a chemistry lab, ask the technician. They keep everything running smoothly, know the trick to getting that temperamental piece of equipment working and make sure missing chemicals are ordered.

But universities are set to lose this valuable resource. ‘41% [of technicians] are due to retire in the next 10 years,’ explains Kelly Vere, higher education engagement manager at the Science Council and director of technical skills and strategy at the University of Nottingham, UK. ‘That’s actually a ticking time bomb, because we are not training enough younger people with those skills.’

The article focuses upon Science Technicians in the University sector. Bob Worley FRSC has come to the defense of Secondary School Science Technicians and highlights that similar problems also exist within our profession. 

Okay, the official bit first. Whose responsibility is it to clear out the sink traps? It is important that you look to your job description in the first instance.

If it clearly states that YOU are responsible, then your employer is required under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to make sure that you have been given adequate Instruction, training, Information and supervision in how to do it. If your employer does not arrange this and you feel uncertain about how to do it, then that is reasonable grounds for refusal.

Do NOT accept the job of cleaning out sink traps because what that usually will mean is that it will be your job forever!

Technicians that are responsible for the running of their technical service in schools and colleges need leadership and management knowledge and skills, to make sure their service to students and teachers is effective.

The association of science education recognises these needs and has developed a leadership and management programme for science technicians in schools and colleges. Whether you’re a senior technician or team leader technicians, a lone technician or if your aspiring to the senior role this programme can support you in developing your leadership qualities and management skills to deliver an exceptional technical service to your school.

The programme is divided into three essential modules delivered over three days, these are

  • Technicians: Leading yourself and your team
  • Technicians: Working with and training others
  • Technicians: Organising your technical service

The programme has a flexible approach, so you can book on one, two or three days at any point.
Simon Quinnell (@Quinnell75 ) will be delivering this programme.

More information about the programme can be found here..

TecHKnow Wiki is an online community where you can publish your professional articles, notes, pearls of wisdom and images on the site. We have recently updated the Wiki area to make it more user friendly and secure.

Using the wiki, anyone registered on the wiki, can contribute or edit professional articles that would be helpful or beneficial for secondary school technicians to read. It is written collaboratively by many colleagues or perhaps as a stand-alone article by a single person - lots of people are constantly improving TecHKnow, and all changes are recorded on the Recent Changes page.

An open invitation is provided to all colleagues to edit any page or to create new pages within the TecHKnow wiki Web site, using only your own Web browser without any extra add-ons.

The entire TecHKnow Wiki is easily searchable for knowledge, information, pictures and any such knowledge is freely available to everybody to access print out and/or download and use in whatever way you wish.

Its free. So, its over to you. Let's see what knowledge, experience and wisdom exists within our professional community.

An article from our TecHKnow Wiki area. You are invited to register and add your own articles or pearls of wisdom. You receive full accreditation for all the work that you submit. Check out the TecHKnow wiki today.

Starch is a high molecular mass carbohydrate - (C6H10O5)n. Because of this starch is usually made up as a percentage solution rather as a molar strength.

Depending upon its final use and time available, there are variations on how to make up starch solution. Normally it should be made up fresh, shortly before you need to use it. Distilled or deionised water should be used in all instances described here.

In general, starch is insoluble in water, but some types of starch eg., soluble starch or corn starch will dissolve in water provided they are made into a paste first with cold water then dissolved in boiling water.

There is no hazard normally associated with cold Starch solution other than it may stiffen your lab coat! 
Method 1
This could be used when making up % solution for enzyme practicals.

  • Meausre out 10g of starch powder into a clean 250beaker.
  • Pour in 20-30cm3 of distilled water and mix into a slurry.
  • In a second 1 Litre beaker boil about 500cm3 of water.
  • Add the starch mixture into the boiling water and continue boiling for a few minutes. An electric stirrer or hotplate stirrer could be used here!
  • Make up to the final volume accurately with very cold water
  • Allow to cool

When the starch is completely dissolved in the water, the cloudiness of the solution will dissapear.

Method 2
This is a quick method of making starch solution when final stregnth is not an issue, for example simple test for starch using Iodine solution.

  • Measure out 10g of strach powder into a clean 1 Litre beaker.
  • Boil water in an electric kettle
  • Add hot water to starch powder with continuos stirring for a minute.
  • Allow to cool
Starch solutions will hydrolyse over a period of time and particularly in an acid environment. Therefore if you need to 
store starch solution for a while then it can be preserved with Salicylic Acid.

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