Kate Ardron is science co-ordinator and leader of creativity and innovation at Cullercoats Primary School in North Shields, as well as a lead science teacher and acting advanced skills teacher for North Tyneside. She has been presented with a prestigious AstraZeneca Primary Science Teaching Award for her dedication, enthusiasm and talent.
So, how do you make science fun?
"I try to make it real and interesting. In the autumn term I did a whole project about earth and space with nine and 10-year-olds. As part of their homework I sent them a job description from an astronaut programme, and they had to write a letter of application. One boy wrote: "Dear Commander, I think I'd be really good in small spaces as I'm used to caravanning holidays. And money is not an issue because, at present, I get #163;1 pocket money a week, so I'd be happy to start on the beginner's salary." Really fun. We all wear little lab coats and the kids decorate them with fabric pens. I try and do as much outdoors as possible. Our school is 100m from the beach, so we do lots of research there."
What are Fun Science Days?
"We try and have a Fun Science Day once a year. We have 380 pupils at Cullercoats and we group them vertically, so each member of staff ends up with a workshop that includes everyone, from reception to Year 6. We do a range of things, from building structures out of spaghetti and marshmallows, to making wind socks and fizzing rockets."
You must have some funny stories to tell ...
"We held a kite festival in the autumn and we all worked really hard to organise it. My Year 5 colleague and I took our classes out on the last day of the week; it was our last opportunity and the weather had been really bad, with almost gale force winds. Within 30 seconds of letting go, half of the kites had flown off and the others were wrapped around people's legs. We were just crying with laughter. It was such a fun day, but it slightly defeated the object of the kite festival!"
Any tips for more creativity in the classroom?
"You mustn't be afraid - if it goes wrong, then it's a learning experience. Just be a risk-taker and think back to when you were at school and which memories really stuck. It's either the horrible ones or the ones that took us out of our comfort zone, that made us laugh, that filled us with absolute awe - no matter how old we were. Embrace it and challenge yourselves. If we're not engaged and excited about what we're teaching, then really the children have no chance, do they?"