First Escape Room

So here goes……….

There on the table is a large handbag/working bag, it appears to have a lot of combination locks on the bag. There is a file and a locked folder. The folder is locked with a 3 digit combination lock.

File- Titled “The Case of the LASER”

In the file are the following documents

In the Unlocked Part of the Bag

In the bag is a lanyard (see below) with an ID work badge, a mirror and a James Herbert Book- The Fog.

A compact mirror is in the bag
This is in the bag, the only part not locked up.

Can you solve the clues to get into the folder?



Well done to Dr Allan! He’s into the folder.

This is what the folder contains, although not everything can be used yet.

You’ll need to start by answering these questions.

The grid key and grid secret should allow you to finish the last puzzle.

You might find these documents can give you some hints

You’ll need to work out the key to the cipher, but you haven’t collected this yet.

This might make contact but not until you have a cipher disk and I’ve locked that away. If you’ve answered the end of the first puzzle you’ll be able to get into the bag

You’ll need these maps for later. They will help you to locate me.

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Can you open the next lock using this lot, don’t throw the rest away, you’ll need it for later?


Well done to Dr Allan! He’s into the bag, but I can’t keep up so he’ll have to wait for the next clues. He’s been so helpful showing where I need to add more hints, or explanations. Thanks- you truly are a PRO!

Building an Escape Room

This is the end of a long process to make an Escape Room for Revision in my Classes. It is my first one so you can tell that it will be full of flaws, but I think there is something here that you can adapt and make it your own with very little need to adjust much. I’ll try to put the editable files in another post. In this post you can play along and try to solve the case. Do let me know how you get on.

Well in 2017 in Debrecan Hungary, at the Science on Stage Conference for Science Teachers I first encountered ESCAPE ROOMS in the classroom. Since then I’ve wanted to make one and went about it totally the wrong way, buying boxes and locks without any idea of what I would do.

I was fortunate enough to go to Cascais Portugal for the 2019 Science on Stage Conference and went to an Escape Room workshop, so that was it. I’ve now got to prove it can be done. I think however I might have gone over the top. It has taken me hundreds of hours of thinking and doing and I daren’t add up what I’ve spent, although most things wont be used, so my warning if you get hooked, plan and execute in draft and then pay!

I’ve moved the clues to another post on Escape Rooms and here I’ll discuss what I did and all the things I did wrong!…..


It is a real privilege to be attending the biennial Science on Stage Event in Cascais, Portugal.

There are 450 Science Teachers from around Europe, and further afield all with amazing ideas, projects and ways of teaching their students.

Setting up the Project stands.
About 1/3 of the exhibits

Representing Lockerbie Academy, Scotland and Escola Secundaria Maria Lamas, Portugal we have Hear Today – Gone Tomorrow.
Sebastian Funk is a great master of ceremonies.

After the set up of all the stands…….

End of an Epoch

21st September marks Catherine Wilson’s birthday but also an end to the IoP network coordinators as we’ve known it. To celebrate the people who instigated and ran the network and started the fantastic Physics forum met together for a find farewell and catch up. I was honoured to be invited but felt like a gate crasher! The people round the table had all provided advise, help, role models and support through my long career. Each person’s skill set was distinct and eclectic and they are mainly responsible for the positive shape of Scottish physics education.

The amazing movers and shakers of Physics education, and me!

Somewhere in a Rainbow

Thanks to Lewis and Sandy, who spotted a beautiful, intense, double rainbow from my window during a non-contact period today. Luckily I had a polarising filter to hand and Lewis managed to capture some photos showing rainbows are partially plain polarised. Check out the photos below.

the rainbow

The Rainbow through a polarising filter.
If you rotate the polarising filter most of the rainbow disappears.

What a way to spend a non-contact. Thank you! I suggest you keep a bit of polarising filter in your pocket, just in case! Don’t pinch mine though John needs it for his AH Project.


Night off

Not sure what the students did over the holidays but I don’t think it was much work! But maybe they were right. We are faced with a 13 week term and I’m exhausted- it’s day 3 back at work.

I was hoping that catching up over Christmas would have put me in better fettle to face the term but there are too many demands on me!

So the computers are off and left at work. Just an AGM to go to tonight, a friend who is in hospital to visit, a house to tidy, but first a cuppa and a kip!

It’s out!

Hot off the press, with the help of the Scottish physics teachers’ forum I’ve discovered the 2019 SQA timetable has been published. Not sure why physics isn’t at the distant end but the Biology exam is in April and that’s not something I can’t recall from my years of teaching .

I’ll attach the document below and you can get all sorted.

Only 323 days to the Physics exam on 15th May 2019



Lesson in teaching

I’ve been teaching for a very long time, so long that I could have taught most of the staff. It seems odd then that I heard a good quote for teaching on Friday and heard it three times in 24 hours…….and the quote

Children remember not what you teach them but the way you make them feel

Now I think this is a great quote so why has no one told me before? Well just in case you haven’t come across this little nugget imI sharing it with you now. Shame Shame no one reads this!

Teaching in the 21 Century

I’ve been teaching for a long time now, longer than the probationer has been alive, but every year teachers get more and more tired and it isn’t because I’m too old. We’ve been back six days and already there has been tears from people with too much on their plate and too many students who need the teacher’s time if they are to do their best: time we don’t really have.

To the teachers who work hard all year, and often don’t have time to even go to the loo or eat dinner or grab a bite to eat I say…. this one is for you

To those who chose the school holiday dates I say…..

Please take careful note to monitor the sickness and stress rate of your staff. Teaching is not a 09:00-15:30 job!  You need to take care of the workforce and put their interest at heart.


I touch the future- I teach

As usual it is raining in my home town, so, as I wandered off home I got out the umbrella I was given at the Science on Stage Conference 2017 in Debrecan, Hungary. It was left over from the Science on Stage London 2015 event, where the weather was typically wonderful.

I can’t say that I was concentrating on where I was going as one of the quotes around the edge of the brolly was “I touch the future- I teach,” by Christa McCulliffe. For those that don’t know, she was the school teacher selected to be the first teacher in space and chosen for flight STS-51-L. This was the flight that never made it into space as it was the Challenger, that blew apart on January 28 1986, starting 73 seconds after lift-off. It was the 25th flight of the American Space Shuttle program, and disastrous final mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which lifted-off from Launch Complex 39-B, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission ended in catastrophic failure with the destruction of Challenger, and the death of all seven crew members.

I can’t begin to imagine the effect on this event on her family, friends and students she taught, and yet, in her short life she really had grasped something about the privilege of teaching. As teachers we really do have the chance to see students who will go on to have their own amazing lives, whether seemingly dull or interesting. Each student chooses their own future and makes their own life. Even getting through life for some is an achievement in itself.

Thanks Christa, that after all these years, you can still influence people and give renewed enthusiasm for the special job we do.