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Spotlight: James Cairney, Senior Technician at Cumbernauld Academy



Tell us a fun fact about yourself


Once won a local fishing competition on the stormiest day ever. I was the only person to catch a fish that day and won the Airdrie Advertiser trophy.


Tell us about your career journey so far


Initially I wanted to be a footballer like most young boys but reality dawned when you needed exceptional talent. I left school to do a Diploma in Science & Technology as I was always interested in science, a fulltime course over two years. A science technician vacancy temporary appeared at my old school so I applied and got the job. My first step on the employment ladder. After a few temp positions, a full-time position came up at the same school and I was successful. I had to complete an HNC Science Laboratory Techniques Day release for two years until fully qualified as a science technician.


I worked there for 18 years then a Senior technician post came up at Cumbernauld High school (now Cumbernauld Academy) served my application and got the job a promotion.

I have been there ever since the year 2000.


What was your favourite subject in school and why?


My favourite subject at school was PE and mainly football but I also like basketball, and athletics and the school sports days. I was in the school football team and was team captain. I have always played team sport, as I like the thought of everyone working for success for all, not just individual achievement, that is important. It's good to be part of a team.


What is your favourite thing about your job?


The favourite part of my job is setting up the apparatus for experiments. My favourite experiment is the screaming jelly baby. A jelly baby is dropped into molten potassium chlorate and it screams very loud and has lots of smoke and the room smells like candy floss. Using the Van de Graff generator is also another favourite, for your hair standing up and electric shocks. It is always a winner


What is a normal day in your role like?


The beauty of my job is that there is no two days the same and the variety of tasks to do over three disciplines Physics, Chemistry, Biology is plenty. You can be setting up apparatus for a multitude of different experiments or washing up the glassware, or sanitising the goggles or filming an experiment or carry out electrical safety test on a piece of apparatus. The list is endless but never boring. As a senior technician, you are in charge of the technician team. An ICT technician, Science, and a Design Technology technician. This team supports the teaching staff to deliver the school curriculum


Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?


One activity I filmed on my phone during lockdown was called Fishing for ice. What you need is a cereal bowl, ice cubes, water and salt and thread to fish the ice out. You put water in the bowl add in the ice cubes, put your thread over one of the ice cubes add some salt over the ice cubes wait a few seconds and the thread will stick to the ice cube and you can fish it out. The Institute of Engineering saw this video and asked my permission to us it for training purposes. So you never know who is watching. A video to cheer a young boy up is use d for education purposes!

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