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Year 5s Explore the Science of Sport

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Bolton School welcomed Year 5 pupils from seventeen local primary schools for the annual Science Festival. The science departments in the Boys’ and Girls’ Divisions were buzzing with excitement as the teams of four worked their way through a carousel of five exciting activities themed around sport.

The Festival split the focus between three main branches of science, with children taking part in two Biology and Chemistry activities and one Physics workshop.

The Year 5s had a great time getting hands-on in the Chemistry activities. In the Harry Kroto Chemistry Building, Boys’ Division staff led the children through running a test on jelly babies to see how much sugar, starch and protein they contain, as jelly babies are recommended to eat immediately after or during sports training. This was a really interesting technical task that allowed pupils to use equipment and chemical substances to test a solution made of the jelly babies to obtain their results. At the end of the session, one of the Boys’ Division teachers set a jelly baby on fire to demonstrate just how much energy they contain.

Meanwhile they were challenged by Girls’ Division chemistry teachers to find out which sports drink was the most effective at replacing the salts lost through sweat during exercise. The children learned that electrolytes in the drinks replace the salts in the body, and so the one with the most electrolytes would be the most effective. As these electrolytes allow the liquid to conduct electricity, this drink would also be the most conductive. The children ran a current through each different drink, using exact measurements each time, and carefully recorded the data.

The Boys’ Division Biology activity focused on testing pupils’ personal sporting abilities. The children looked at the different attributes that are needed to excel at sport: speed, suppleness, strength, stamina and skill. A range of activities, from an iPad game to a ‘knees up’ exercise, allowed pupils to measure their talents and limitations and get them thinking about the need for different skills depending on the sport.

The matching workshop in the Girls’ Division gave the children a better understanding of anatomy by looking at muscles and bones. They were able to look at full-size models of the human skeleton as well as bird and mammal skeletons to study joints, and had a go at making their own models of ball joints and hinge joints using elastic bands as muscles. The children also looked at x-rays of fractures and breaks to see what happens when the body is injured, and had the opportunity to put on gloves and manipulate a chicken leg to feel how muscles, bones and tendons work.

The Physics activity was shared between both Divisions and asked pupils to create a high-jumping model mouse! Each mouse was designed to fit over the end of a plastic bottle so that when the children smacked the sides, it would be propelled into the air. As well as allowing the children to be creative with their mouse designs, the task required them to think carefully about what they would have to do to make their mouse jump as high and as straight as possible. The addition of differently shaped ears and different lengths of tail were carefully considered, as well as the body shape and the size of the Blu-tack ‘nose’. At the end of the session, the schools went head-to-head in a fun competition to see whose mouse could jump the highest.

All of the Year 5 children received a certificate and special pencil to commemorate their involvement. Each school also received a set of books which can be used by pupils in future science lessons. These were presented to the children by Miss Sue Hincks, the Girls’ Division Headmistress, and Miss Samantha Tomlinson, the School’s Primary Liaison Coordinator, during a ceremony at the end of the day.

Miss Tomlinson said, “It was wonderful to be able to welcome so many of our local primary schools in to work alongside our current pupils and our subject specialists in both the Boys’ and Girls’ Division Science departments. Our visitors were able to work in the labs to discover the Science behind sport – very fitting with Wimbledon upon us. This event continues to be extremely popular for the able and talented children in the area and we look forward to its continued success in future years.”

All of the children agreed that they had learned something new over the course of the Science Festival, and also that they had lots of fun!

The Science Festival was organised by Miss Tomlinson and coordinated by Mrs Emily Dalzel-Job. Sixth Form pupils from both Divisions lent a hand with helping the groups to find each activity and running the activities throughout the day.

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Two pupils testing a solution made from jelly babies

Two pupils testing a solution made from jelly babies

One of the high-jumping model mice in action

One of the high-jumping model mice in action

A Sixth Form pupil helping girls with the speed test

A Sixth Form pupil helping girls with the speed test