Year 8 Modelling Reactions

During the unit of ‘Reactions’, our Year 8 students have been learning about combustion. After learning about the products of combustion and the efficiency of different fuels through practical investigation, the students could model the reactants and products of combustion using Molymod kits.

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The girls’ model of the balanced equation for the complete combustion of Methane:

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The students were also able to demonstrate the formation of the carbon deposits around poorly ventilated gas fires and boilers.

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Mr Dean

Mumps

The number of recorded cases of mumps is at its highest level in nearly a decade.  Mumps is a contagious infection that causes the glands on the side of the face to swell painfully.  A person’s risk of contracting mumps is reduced by having the MMR vaccine.  The steep rise in cases is being seen in students at universities and colleges.  These students were born in the late 1990s and early 2000s and did not have the MMR vaccine when they were children.  This was partly because Dr Andrew Wakefield, a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital in London, published a 1998 paper in The Lancet, claiming a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  This led to a dramatic drop in children being vaccinated and as a result, the number of cases of mumps in the last decade has been on the rise. 

However, this is not the only outbreak of mumps that the UK has experienced. The graph below shows that after 2002, there was a big increase in confirmed mumps cases in the UK.  This peaked in 2005 and smaller peaks occurred in 2009 and 2013. Most of these cases have been in teenagers and young adults who were too old to be offered the MMR vaccine when it was introduced in 1988.  They also missed a second MMR dose when this was introduced in 1996. Again, as is being seen now, these outbreaks were mainly among students at universities and colleges.

Andrew Wakefield’s work has since been completely discredited and he has been struck off as a doctor in the UK.

Children up to the age of 18 who missed, or only partially completed, their earlier MMR vaccination can have a “catch-up” MMR vaccination on the NHS. 

Adults who missed out on the MMR vaccination as a baby and are therefore not immune, can also have the MMR vaccine on the NHS.

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Mrs Goodwill, Science Department

Why do we clean our hands using Alcohol?

Students may have noticed the many hand sanitisers around the school but they may not have stopped to think about how they actually kill the germs on our hands.

To understand this, we first need to think about the structure of the bacteria cells that we are trying to kill. The bacteria cell is a microscopic, prokaryotic cell.  It is smaller than the cells of our body and has an outer membrane made of fatty acids. One role of this membrane is to hold the cells important inner structures together. Within the cell, are proteins made up of amino acids in a specific shape that allows them to carry out their function.

The alcohol (often ethanol) does two important things. Firstly, it breaks down the protective layer of the cell membrane, exposing the proteins within. The alcohol then penetrates the bacteria and denatures the proteins, meaning it changes their shape so that they can no longer carry out their function. With their membrane broken down and their proteins denatured, the potentially harmful bacteria rapidly die.

The added benefit of ethanol being very volatile, results in rapid evaporation from your hands, making it an excellent chemical to use as hand sanitiser. So next time you are cleaning your hands around school, remember the amazing biochemistry that is helping to stop the spread of germs and keep you healthy.

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Mr Coogan

Chemical Cookery – Science Week

As part of our commitment to offering a varied curriculum which links into future careers, the Science department are running several chemical cookery sessions for all Year 7 students. The sessions will run over Science week and will allow the students to gain some hands-on experience of what it is like to be a chef. The session is run by myself, Mr Dean.  I was a chef for 13 years before becoming a teacher and I have worked in many establishments, including Michelin star restaurants.

Part of my area of expertise was using molecular gastronomy to create exciting and mouth-watering dishes. This involved using many innovative techniques and many different chemicals to create the perfect flavours and textures. These dishes had to be full of flavour but also be edible and desirable.

We have combined Science and cooking to create chemical cookery. Every Year 7 student will be tasked with using different chemicals, such as agar agar, sodium alginate and calcium lactate, to create a dish of spaghetti and meatballs topped with parmesan cheese! However, all may not be as it first seems! Good luck!

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Mr Dean
Science Department

Science Club

This term, Science club have taken part in a series of experiments in order to change the colour of copper pennies.  A copper penny can be coated with a layer of zinc, by heating in a solution of sodium hydroxide and zinc powder. The zinc gives the penny the silver colour.  The penny is then heated in the flame of a Bunsen burner. This causes the zinc to react with the original copper of the penny, creating a brass coating on the penny. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, which gives the penny the gold colour.

Science club is open to all year 7 and year 8 students.  Anyone wanting to attend can just turn up and get involved on Monday lunch times at 12:45 in room 46. We are currently investigating the growth of plants.

Miss Forrest, Science Department

Infection and Response

Year 10 have recently been learning about diseases in the Biology unit of ‘Infection and Response’.  One particular class have taken an interest in Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The students were taught about viruses and how they affect the body, how to prevent the spread of disease, how the body tries to destroy the disease and the stages of drug development.  This gave them a real understanding into the reasons for quarantine and why a drug is not readily available to prevent further spread.

During their lessons, students have kept up with BBC news and there has been a regular discussion about the progress of the disease. They understand that the risk to individuals remains low, however the immune systems of vulnerable patients are weaker, therefore will be affected more.

They understand that because it’s a new illness, people do not know exactly how Coronavirus spreads from person to person.  However, we do know that similar viruses, such as flu and measles, can be spread by droplet infection.

As a whole school measure, students are encouraged to take preventative measures, such as using hand sanitiser and coughing into the crook of their arms to help prevent the spread of infection within school.  These are handy tips for everyone and is current NHS advice.

Mrs Cahill, Science Department

World Book Day 2020

Thursday 5th March was ‘World Book Day’ – a celebration of readers, writers and all things book-related.   We joined in the celebration with our theme of “Villains” – the current unit of work in Year 7, and invited students to join us in costume.  For the first time this year, we ran a costume library to provide costumes for students to borrow – so there were no excuses for joining the fun!  This is something we hope to build on next year to develop an even wider selection of costumes.

This year, the English Department were delighted that so many other staff joined in the dressing up and came in costume.   Many students went above and beyond in their costumes and must have attracted a great deal of attention on their way in to school!

World Book Day is a registered charity on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own. It’s also a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.  All students in Key Stage 3 were given their WBD voucher which enables them to choose a specially produced World Book Day book, or to use it for money off a book of their choice – they can use this voucher at Waterstones or W.H.Smith.

To link in with World Book Day, we are also launching Readathon with Year 7 and 8 which raises money to provide stories and storytellers for seriously ill children in hospital in the UK.  Numerous studies show that reading changes lives: from educational outcomes and social mobility to emotional well-being.  There is ample evidence to demonstrate that enjoyment drives the core skill of reading and that motivation is an integral element of reading well. Readathon’s mission about children reading to help other children in hospital, is both time-tested and ingenious.

Mrs Woodhouse

Curriculum Leader for English

Cricket Championships

Our Year 9 and 10 Cricket team played to an exceptional standard during the West Lancashire Cricket Championships on Monday 2nd March, resulting in them winning all 4 games and going through to the Regional Finals Cricket Championships held in Bolton in 2 weeks time. Well done, girls; outstanding achievement!

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Scores:

Game 1 PGHS 91 – 59 Ormskirk

Game 2 PGHS 74 – 56 Bellerive

Game 3 PGHS 80 – 79 Ormskirk 2

Game 4 PGHS 94 – 56 Bellerive 2

Miss Owen, Teacher of PE

The Krypton Factor Challenge

kryptonfactor.jpgBefore half term, a small number of Year 10 students were invited to Runshaw college, to participate in the Krypton Factor challenge. The students had to complete 3 different challenges against other schools.

The first challenge was a Biological challenge. The students had to work out the time of death for a body that had been found in the college using maggots to determine this. The students measured the lengths of different maggots, working out an average length and cross referencing this with a list of data. The students determined that the body had died 36 hours previously, based on the age of the maggots. For a bit of fun, the students then raced the maggots on a specially designed track. They used different techniques to attract the maggots towards the finish line.

The second challenge was called ‘CSI:Cretaceous’, involving Chemistry and Geology. The students had to use a variety of information to become forensic palaeontologists. They had 6 suspects and they had to figure out which dinosaur was responsible for the murder of another dinosaur.  The challenge involved analysing different rock samples, looking at different fossil samples and their track marks. The different analysis techniques eliminated a suspect until only one remained.

The final challenge was a Physics challenge. They had to decode messages using the periodic table and asked a series of questions to uncover the hidden message.

The students were highly commended by the Runshaw staff and as a result, won the challenge out of 15 schools and were presented with the Runshaw Cup!  Excellent work, girls!

Mr Dean, Science Department

  • Arts Council England - Artsmark Gold
  • Lancashire Socio-economic Equality Badge
  • SMART
  • UNICEF
  • School Mental Health Award
  • Ofsted - Outstanding Provider
  • Arts Council England - Artsmark Gold
  • Lancashire Socio-economic Equality Badge
  • SMART
  • UNICEF
  • School Mental Health Award
  • Ofsted - Outstanding Provider