Emanuel Science Week 10th -14th February 2020: Our Diverse Planet
The week before half term was Emanuel Science Week, with a jam-packed programme of competitions, projects and lunchtime activities, all aimed at taking our pupils beyond the classroom and giving them a greater glimpse into the wonder and impact of science in our world. On the theme of ‘Our Diverse Planet’, there were opportunities for pupils to explore a broad range of STEM topics from microbes to materials and engineering to ecology as they solved puzzles, researched, and completed practical work each day.
Here is a snapshot of the week in numbers:
3 lunchtimes of fun at Junior Science Club Special
Pupils from Years 6 to 8 flocked to the Junior Science Lab each day to build their own volcanoes, make slime, watch explosions, and investigate the behaviour of locusts and venus fly traps, as they learnt about plate tectonics, properties of materials, and animal and plant behaviour.
8 participating year groups
Daily challenges saw pupils from all eight year groups (as well as some staff) excitedly race to solve codes, follow clues around the school, and identify department themes from brightly coloured stickers worn by teachers. With prize winners from Year 6 to Upper Sixth, these challenges proved very popular and led pupils to find out some interesting scientific facts along the way.
11 impressive women in science
Tuesday 11th February was the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science and the theme for Science Week Day 2, with pupils identifying 11 women in science from their pictures and finding out more about their achievements. It is staggering that even though huge steps have been made in gender equality, still only 30% of female students worldwide select STEM-related fields in higher education and, of these, only about 5% choose courses in the natural sciences or maths. We are seeking to buck this trend at Emanuel, where overall the three science A levels are only slightly more popular among boys than girls, and significant numbers of girls opt for STEM subjects at university. Hopefully some of the girls we see in our classes now will be the faces we try to identify in a science week sometime in the future…
15 very creative cakes
The standard of cake made for ‘The Great Science Bake-Off’ was incredibly high and there was some impressive baking and decorating talent on display. The judges (Science teachers) were very pleased to see so many entries to taste test, with creations ranging from a volcano complete with a jelly magma chamber, to chemistry apparatus, to a very scientifically accurate animal cell.
75 CREST discovery awards
In lessons, all Year 7 and 8 classes completed a project thinking about the problem of flooding and the increasing need to develop flood-resistant housing. With heavy rainfall and rivers bursting their banks across the UK this month, the theme was all the more topical, and groups of pupils applied what they had learnt about materials and structures to carefully design and build their houses before enthusiastically putting them to the test with jets of water. Whilst some of the models proved more successful than others, the pupils universally enjoyed trying their hand at architecture and engineering and gained an insight into a few of the factors affecting how our growing global population might be accommodated in the future. 75 pupils will receive CREST discovery awards for their efforts, and hopefully many will be inspired to expand their experience of independent scientific investigation by working towards the nationally recognised bronze award as CREST club begins in the next couple of weeks.
282 pupils with amazing presentations
My personal highlight of Science Week was on day 4, as 282 pupils from Years 7 and 8 (along with a few extra Year 6s) packed into the science labs and D hall to display their homework presentations on ‘amazing examples of diversity’. With cleverly edited video clips and PowerPoint presentations, brightly coloured posters, and imaginative models on tardigrades to the Periodic Table, the pupils really stepped up to the challenge, probing well beyond the curriculum in their research. Whilst there could only be a few prize winners, the teachers who came along were hugely impressed by the effort and creativity on display, as well as the ability of the pupils to explain high level scientific ideas so accurately and confidently.
Emanuel Science Week 2020 was successful and exciting, and there was certainly a real buzz around the school about the activities taking place. Lots of pupils left for half term with a few more interesting facts (and jokes) up their sleeves, and a greater appreciation of science in general. I hope that this is not the only impact though. Ultimately, our aim is that our pupils discover for themselves something of the satisfaction and excitement to be found from delving deeply into the principles that govern our universe. Science week is just a small part of this bigger picture, but hopefully one that encouraged at least some of our pupils on their way to becoming the scientists of the future.
Mrs Brown (Head of Science)