Meet Explorify’s Primary Science Programme Lead Louise Stubberfield
Meet Louise, who’s been working at Wellcome for the last four years.
Louise speaking at the Project ENTHUSE awards.
Hello Louise! Tell us about your involvement in creating Explorify.
I’m the programme lead for primary science at Wellcome, so I’ve been a part of it since the beginning, understanding the context of science in primary schools and drawing the evidence base together for why it’s important. It’s my responsibility for overseeing Explorify and making sure it all comes together – that the teaching is right and that the science is right, so that children can have the best experience possible.
What’s your favourite Explorify activity and why?
I like them all because I love the thinking behind them. But if I had to choose what I’d do first, it’s got to be Odd One Out. It’s so simple to access, effective, and children always have ideas.
Tell us about your own educational journey.
I went to a small village primary school, long before the National Curriculum and SATs. We did lots of learning outdoors because it was a farming community. At secondary school, I drove my teachers mad by always asking ‘Why?’ One teacher even put that on my UCAS form (though it wasn’t called UCAS yet)! I didn’t realise what kind of science I wanted to do until we had a supply teacher who did microbiology with me. It was such a gift, opening up an awesome world that I wanted to know more and more about. From there, I went to Bristol for university, where I studied microbiology. Once I finished, I knew I didn’t want to do academic research, so I worked in research in the power generation industry.
How did you get into teaching?
While I worked at the power station, I helped a local primary school with a science week and I was hooked. It was nothing like I remembered from my own primary school. It was so pacy and the children were so vibrant and ready to learn. I completed my PGCE at Durham and taught in Kent, working my way up over 20 years to be a senior leader. Science and SEN were areas I really enjoyed leading. I was always looking for new ways to refresh my science learning and came across this role at Wellcome, which combined my research and teaching experience and I knew I had to take it.
Why do you feel so passionate about primary science?
I’ll always remember what a 10-year-old pupil called Kelly said to me when I left to come to Wellcome. She asked me, “Why does primary science matter so much?” I told her to just think of how many kids there are in the country just like her who deserved to learn but didn’t get the chance. And she said “Go, and don’t come back until you’ve fixed it!”
Can you recall a time when you felt nervous about science?
At the power station, our goal was to make cooling water systems more efficient by controlling the amounts of biofouling (slime). I realised I didn’t know enough about the physics of what was going on in the cooling water systems. I hadn’t done physics since I was at school! I had to ask lots of questions to get my head around it. Because we were in an interdisciplinary team, we had to work together to solve problems. I didn’t have to know everything as long as I kept asking questions.
What would you say to others who might feel like it’s hard to get more science into the classroom?
There are lots of things that are hard in teaching, but they are hard for different reasons. We need to understand what it is that makes something hard for us, and see if we can make that easier. Tell us something surprising about you. I tried (and mostly failed) to learn to speak Russian. Oh, and I like bodyboarding, even in the winter!