A GRANDAD who happens to be an expert in the field of chemistry has been teaching his granddaughter science using objects found in the home.

Oxford pensioner, Bernard Dagnall, 76, has never been a professional teacher, but used his experience working as a chemist to school his nine-year-old granddaughter Ella on the topic.

Ella attends Holly Spring Primary School in Bracknell and spent many months learning from home due to the pandemic.

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To help take the huge task of home schooling off the shoulders of Ella's mother, Mr Dagnall took the reins, teaching Ella science remotely for an hour every morning via a video call.

Mr Dagnall set up the iPad in his house and Ella set up hers in the kitchen, and he gave her instructions on how to do hands-on science experiments using objects easily found in the home.

Mr Dagnall said: “I thought I would do one or two things that they wouldn’t be doing at school just to liven her up and get her interested.”

The pair worked on eight experiments, some outdoors, and others using ingredients such as eggs, vinegar, baking powder and lemon juice.

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Mr Dagnall explained how all of the experiments were accessible for everyone to replicate, as all the ingredients can be found in the supermarket.

He said: “Everybody can do it because there are always things around the home you can use and in everyday life, science is always around you.”

Ella also learnt valuable, everyday life skills. After a few lessons with her grandad, she was able to put her science knowledge into action and help her dad, who is a builder, lay a patio using a scientific sequence.

The primary school pupil started to develop a genuine passion and excitement for STEM subjects throughout the sessions.

Oxford Mail:
The pioneering grandad helped his daughter win an award. Image: Ed Nix

Mr Dagnall said: “She was also intrigued by the ‘golden ratio’ which shows how the length of your arms, wrists and height are all related.”

The retired chemist used the British Science Association’s CREST Award activities to help guide him through the teaching and think of new, creative experiments. After all of Ella’s hard work towards the award, she received a certificate.

Mr Dagnall said: “I looked at the website for the British Science Association and they were advertising the CREST Awards, which they do for all ages, and there was a special one for primary school children.

“I thought it would encourage her. She had eight experiments and had to write about them, and she got a certificate at the end and a badge, so that was good. She was motivated to go on, even though writing up about them isn’t always the most exciting thing.”

As with many video calls, shaky internet connection did sometimes cause the experiments to be put on hold.

Mr Dagnall said: “It was challenging at first because sometimes of course the internet connection failed so everything had to be put on pause until it came back. But the iPad was useful because you can move it around.”

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