This term, all of our Year 10 physicists have been studying the unit of ‘Energy’, so its time for our annual Physics competition.
A ride on a rollercoaster is a perfect example of physics in action. Rollercoasters rely on a store of gravitational potential energy as it transfers into kinetic energy and back again, over and over again.
The UK’s tallest rollercoaster, The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, starts with the train being cranked to the top of a massive 72m hill. On rides like this, your anticipation builds with the clanking of the chain, as it pulls you slowly up the hill, increasing your gravitational potential energy. Gravity then takes over, pulling the cars down a 65° drop. As the train dives, the gravitational potential energy decreases and the kinetic energy increases as it accelerates to around 34 m/s.
Every Year 10 physicist has been tasked with designing their very own rollercoaster. Each rollercoaster design must include calculations of gravitational potential energy, kinetic energy and elastic potential energy. Their rollercoasters must also have a clear theme.
There will be prizes for the best designs with the most accurate calculations:
Year 11 students have been continuing their GCSE course this year. They have been looking at the rate of a reaction and the many factors than can affect these reactions. As part of this unit, there are many numeracy skills that can be assessed on the exam. Students need to be able to draw graphs with smooth curves of best fit, describe these graphs using the correct terminology or even explain why the curve has the shape it does. Another aspect of this topic is using the graphs to calculate the rate of reaction at a specific time. Normally, the gradient of the line would be adequate, however, as these graphs are curves, they have an ever changing gradient. To overcome this, the students have to be able to draw a tangent on their curves (a straight line that just touches the curve at the desired time or volume). They can then use a formula to calculate the gradient of this tangent. Lots of students struggle with this as it can be an alien and abstract concept that they haven’t come across before. The use of the visualizer and modelling are a great tool in explaining how to draw these and walking through the calculations. Below are some examples of the current year 11 work. They have worked really hard and shown great resilience in overcoming this challenge. Well done, Year 11!
This term, Year 11 separate chemistry students have been exploring the fascinating, but sometimes challenging world of organic chemistry. In just five weeks, they have progressed from recognising basic organic molecules, to naming, drawing and building molecules such as 1,2-dibromoethane, butanedioic acid and ethyl ethanoate. The unit culminated in students producing their own ester molecules by reacting ethanol with ethanoic acid to produce an ester molecule.
Individual organic molecules are far too small to see, even with a microscope but it’s essential that students can visualise them in order to understand how they interact. This provides an excellent opportunity to use the molymods to model these organic molecules. Modelling ideas is a vital aspect of science, both for deepening understanding but also for communicating complex or abstract ideas clearly. However, it’s also important to understand that models have their limits. The picture shows ethanol molecules (CH3CH2OH), but oxygen atoms are not really red, the bonds between the atoms are not really visible and ethanol molecules do not really look like a small dog! Explaining the limitations of these models is an excellent way for students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the subject.
In recent weeks, the telescope has been taking images of Jupiter and Neptune. In the image of Jupiter, you can clearly see the Great Red spot; a famous storm so big that it could swallow Earth. It appears white in the image because it reflects a lot of sunlight. The image of Neptune shows the rings and dust bands that encircle the ice giant. Also visible in the image taken of Neptune are seven of Neptune’s moons. Triton is the brightest, almost looking star-like. The latest image taken by the telescope shows a double star (binary) system WR 140, which is 5000 light years from Earth. The image shows 17 rings which are dust shells that extend outwards over 10 trillion km (70,000 times the distance between the Earth and our Sun). The dust shells are mainly made up of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These are very rich in carbon and you can find them on burnt toast and in car exhausts. PAHs produced by stars are thought to enrich the carbon content throughout the Universe.
Year 9 students have been studying ecosystems and how plants use energy from sunlight to produce their own food (glucose) during photosynthesis. Not all of the building blocks of plant tissues can be derived from the carbon dioxide and water (the reactants within the photosynthesis reaction). A variety of mineral ions are absorbed through the roots and used to make proteins and vital components that make up plants, including chlorophyll. The students have been learning about how farmers aim to improve their crop yield by using fertilizers containing nitrates, phosphates and potassium. Below are some of the leaflets produced displaying what they have learned.
This year, Science Club has started off with a bang. A large group of keen scientists have been attending every Wednesday lunchtime to take part in a wide range of fun and exciting scientific experiments, investigations and challenges. So far, students have created and raced balloon rockets, explored the wonder of magnesium metal and learnt a technique to create a colourful density tower. Here are Katie and Lucy’s density towers.
Science Club is open to all year 7 and year 8 students. Anyone wanting to attend can just turn up and get involved on Wednesday lunchtimes at 12:45pm.
Year 9 have been learning about ‘Ecosystems’ in Science. This is one of our ‘big ideas’. They have been exploring how plants make food by photosynthesis. They have done several experiments to prove this process. Can they tell you about them? We have then been looking at how leaves are adapted to make food and how the cross section of a leaf is structured to make the process of photosynthesis more efficient. Mrs Honeyman’s class made a model to show the structure. Would you be able to name the 7 main parts of the leaf structure?
47 Year 8 students set off to Edinburgh on Friday 16th September. On arrival, we visited Edinburgh Castle. A small group of students managed to successfully navigate the queue for the crown room and view the Crown of Scotland, which was on the Queen’s coffin earlier that week whilst lying-in-state at St Gile’s Cathedral. They also got to explore the castle grounds and take in some breath-taking views of Edinburgh.
After a leisurely breakfast on the second day, we set off for Edinburgh Zoo. Some of us headed off straightaway to see if we could view the giant panda, Tian Tian, and were not disappointed, although she was asleep! There were many other interesting sights to be seen including the koalas, penguins, birds of prey, amongst many other animals. There were some interesting purchases from the gift shop and it was lovely to see so many students buying gifts for family and friends.
After the zoo, there was a trip to the St James’ Quarter shopping centre for even more retail therapy!
Finally, on the last day, we quickly packed up and headed off to the Museum of Edinburgh. This was filled with all sorts of interesting displays and interactive activities from science to culture. The display of animals was most impressive and students could get close up to animals, such as lions and polar bears, which they normally wouldn’t be able to do.
As lunchtime approached, we boarded the coach back home for a very quiet journey with tired, but happy and fulfilled students!
We would like to invite you to our Music and Verse Evening on Monday 17th October from 6pm in the School Hall. All proceeds will go to the Stroke Association as chosen by our Y11 GCSE Music students. Tickets are available on ParentPay and we hope you will be able to join us.
Associate Assistant Headteacher and Curriculum Leader for Music