SSERC Bulletin 270 Complete

Resistance – it’s all in the bag

Velostat™ or (Linqstat™) is a carbon-loaded polyethylene manufactured by 3m™. This material is often used in the form of a small bag 0.1 mm thick to protect static sensitive semiconductor components. In this article, we show how it can be used to investigate resitance.

SSERC professional learning courses

Our courses range from twilight events, day-courses through to residential meetings. Our curriculum coverage spans both primary and secondary sectors and we offer events for teachers, newly qualified teachers and technicians. Many of our events receive funding from the ENTHUSE Bursary scheme or the Scottish Government.

This is a list of courses due to start in September 2020. At the time of publication (April 2020) we are assuming that things will be back close enough to normal to allow them to go ahead as planned. But do check the website nearer the time.

Young STEM Leader programme – FAQ

After the introduction to this exciting programme in the last issue, we answer some of your questions.

Health and Safety

Dissection of animal materials in school

We receive enquiries about animal material dissection on a regular basis from both teachers and technicians. Many of these simply ask, ‘What are we allowed to do?’

Green laser babies

After having our attention drawn to a striking example of what not to do with a laser pointer, here is a brief summary of SSERC’s guidance on the use of lasers
in schools

Mercury rising

Another striking example of what not to do. This time involving eating and drinking . . . and mercury!

3D printing in schools

The HSE has recently updated its guidance for the use of 3D printers. We offer guidance about how this impacts on their use in schools and colleges.

SSERC Bulletin 271 Complete

Adapting to Covid-19

How SSERC has dealt with the pandemic and what we have been doing to try to help.

The STEM Ambassadors programme

Did you know that there are thousands of volunteers across Scotland ready to help bring STEM subjects to life?

Kitchen Physics

Simple Physics practical work that can be done at home – but is no less thought-provoking than anything carried out in a fully kitted-out laboratory.

Professional Learning at SSERC

Life has changed for everyone in this time of COVID-19 and so it is that life at SSERC has changed too. The SSERC team (mostly working from home) have been busy reconfiguring courses so that they can be delivered online via ZOOM, or Adobe Connect, as ‘SSERC_meets’, or through self-study components, or face-to-face at SSERC where social distancing guidelines permit. the programme for our courses can be found here

SSERC professional Learning Programme

Young STEM Leaders at Home

Did you do any cooking or baking today? Did you drive a car, pay for something at the shops or take a selfie? How about painting your nails, watching TV or  lighting a candle? STEM is all around us – and sometimes we don’t even realise it.

Health and Safety

Keep it Clean

It is likely that enhanced hygiene measures will be with us for some time to come. Your employer will have risk-assessed your school situation and put in place a policy. Health and safety law says that you must follow your employer’s guidance and nothing in the following article should lead you to think, “I don’t need to do that because it’s not part of SSERC’s guidance.” Rather, what we’re saying is that if your employer tells you to do X, this is how you might comply in a practical setting.

No Place like Home

The COVID-19 situation has brought the issue of carrying out practical work in and around the home to the fore. It is important that this be done safely – we offer some guidance.

Storage of Hand Sanitisers

Many schools have, sensibly enough, bulk bought hand sanitisers to save money. It is important to remember though that any alcohol-based ones are flammablle liquids and need to be stored as such.

Self-Study Courses

In the latter part of 2019, SSERC tried out what for the organisation was a new type of  professional learning – the self-study course. While we remain committed to face-to-face learning this approach does have its benefits.

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SSERC Bulletin 272 Complete

Tracker revisited

The free, open-source Tracker software package, written by Doug Brown of Cabrillo College, has been a favourite of ours at SSERC for over a decade. Tracker is many-faceted, but at its core is the ability to analyse video and still images. Students working at home could perform meaningful practical work using the application.

Studying animal cells at BGE using liver cells

In this time of COVID-19, SSERC has received several enquiries from teachers and school technicians about the safety and desirability of carrying out cheek cell sampling for microscope work. While this is a safe activity,, it does require that learners to adhere strictly to the guidance.  As an alternative, here we set out a protocol using fresh liver as a readily available and cheap source of animal cells suitable for microscopic examination by learners.

Determining the iodine value without Wijs

For some years now there has been an activity on the SSERC website about the synthesis and testing of biodiesel. The test for unsaturation traditionally uses Wijs solution (alkaline iodine monochloride). This is expensive to buy and hazardous to make: here we offer a simple, quicker, safer method.

SSERC professional learning courses

Ann update on our professional learning operations.  Face-to-face courses will take place with appropriate COVID processes and procedures in place,
including social distancing. (The programme is, of course, subject to change, depending on the situation with the pandemic).

The STEM Ambassador Programme in Scotland 

STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from a wide range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related jobs and disciplines across the UK. They offer their time and enthusiasm to help bring STEM subjects to life and demonstrate the value of them in life and careers. SSERC manages the STEM
Ambassador Programme in Scotland on behalf of STEM Learning.

IOP Teacher Award 2020 – Dr Catherine Dunn

All at SSERC are delighted to learn that our colleague Catherine is a winner of the Institute of Physics Teacher of Physics Award 2020.


Treehouse is an online education platform full of interactive, inspirational and confidence boosting modules to support schools, their teachers, and pupils to be the best version of themselves.

Jayne Hamilton

Jayne’s experience as winner of ENTHUSE Award, Excellence in STEM Teaching (Secondary)

A Young STEM Leader case study

A case study of Turnbull High School in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire which has been delivering the Young STEM Leader Programme (YSLP) for the last two years.

Health and Safety

Coronavirus and the cleaning of equipment

An update on needs and methods for the cleaning of laboratory equipment during the pandemic.

Update of chemistry risk assessments

All the chemistry risk-assessments have recently been updated.

Sealed radioactive source disposal

With many councils adopting a ‘zero waste to landfill policy’, what should a school do if it wishes to dispose of a source?

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