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Neil Eckersley, Former Pupil and Theatre Producer

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Year 5s Entertained and Inspired at Science Festival

Thursday, 03 July 2014

Over one hundred Year 5 pupils from more than twenty schools gathered at Bolton School for this year’s Science Festival! The science departments in the Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions offered each group of pupils a series of five scientific activities covering different aspects of biology, chemistry and physics.

On both the Girls’ Division and Boys’ Division science corridors, pupils were tasked with creating a ‘Supermouse’ in the physics activity. Each pupil created a paper ‘mouse’ in the shape of a cone with ears, a piece of Blu-tack serving as the nose and helping to keep the cone airtight. They then placed the ‘mouse’ over the end of a plastic bottle and smacked the sides, sending the mouse flying across the room! Towards the end of the session, each school chose their best ‘Supermouse’ to compete in a final against one another! While this was lots of fun, the children were also asked to think about how to improve their mouse after each flight: how to make it fly further or in a different direction.

The Boys’ Division arranged a Biology task that kept the Year 5 pupils on their toes: a series of activities based on the different attributes needed to excel at sport. These were speed, suppleness, strength, stamina and skill. Pupils completed different exercises, such as pressing a button as soon as a light flashed to determine speed, trying to touch their toes while sitting down to measure suppleness, and using a iPad app to gague their skill. Many found that they were good at some activities but not as good at others, which demonstrated to them the need for different skills depending on the type of sport being played.

Biology in the Girls’ Division took a different angle. The pupils were taught about the skeleton and musculature. Mrs Dalzel-Job asked the Year 5s to identify different bones on a life-sized model skeleton, then showed them a dissection of a chicken leg to point out the different types of joint and the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Later in the session, pupils put together working models of different types of joint, using elastic bands and muscles, and learned more about how the body works.

The Girls’ Division chemistry task had the pupils testing different types of sports drinks to find out which was the most effective. For the purposes of the task, this was determined by the amount of electrolytes in the drink which would help to replenish the salts lost from the body in sweat. As electrolytes allow the drinks to conduct electricity, the most conductive the drink, the more effective it will be. The Year 5 pupils therefore had to run an electrical current through each drink, record the data, and plot a graph to see which was the most conductive and therefore effective.

In the Boys’ Division’s Harry Kroto Chemistry Building, the Year 5 pupils boiled up Jelly Babies in order to test how much sugar, starch and protein they contained. This was a great technical task that stretched their abilities and allowed them to use different chemicals as part of the tests. Under careful supervision from Dr Yates, the Boys’ Division head of science, and a number of Boys’ Division helpers, the pupils really enjoyed this activity. At the end of the session, Dr Yates set a Jelly Baby on fire and let it burn to show the Year 5s just how much energy each one of the sweets contains!

All of the activities were lots of fun for the Year 5 pupils, who were able to learn more about science in a stimulating and entertaining environment.

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Boys add a chemical to a solution of melted Jelly Babies

Boys add a chemical to a solution of melted Jelly Babies

A girl sends her Supermouse flying!

A girl sends her 'Supermouse' flying!

Two boys test each other

Two boys test each other's speed in one of the Boys' Division Biology activities