British Science week 2023 is upon us and we’re gearing up to celebrate it at KWS during our KS3 science lessons in the week beginning 20th March. Year 7, 8 and 9 students will have a range of tasks during their science lessons – looking at STEM careers, tardigrades, egg parachutes and the Van De Graaff generator to name but a few.
There will also be a variety of other activities on offer throughout the week including a science joke competition, science scavenger hunt and David Attenborough documentaries lunchtime club – make sure to get involved!
As part of science week 195 of our Year 7 students visited the STEM centre in Stevenage to participate in practical sessions which link to our curriculum across STEM subjects. Split across 2 days, the students didn’t let the weather deter them and threw themselves into the tasks on offer.
We started off by creating DNA keyrings. The students learnt about the 4 bases that make up DNA (adenine – A, thymine – T, cytosine – C and guanine – G) and discussed Rosalin Franklin’s role in discovering the structure of DNA along with Watson and Crick. Students then selected a DNA code from a species and set about creating a keyring from beads and pipe cleaners. Each base was given a colour (e.g. yellow was chosen for A and grey for T) and paired up with its complementary pair (A with T and C with G) to form the famous DNA double helix structure.
Next, the students had an opportunity to practise their SCRATCH coding skills by creating a maze game. Each pair chose their character and programmed the maze to correspond keystrokes for movement and prevent their characters from being able to walk through walls. The most inventive team chose a car as their character and managed to programme the car to rotate as it changed direction to ensure it was always driving forwards! With their mazes safely navigated, the group were then given the unique opportunity to view the recreated Martian surface and Airbus prototype Mars rover in action; alongside the scientists who have developed and tested the rover. We discussed the advantage of programming the latest rover, Rosalin, with AI (artificial intelligence) which would enable the rover to more safely navigate the treacherous surface of Mars, without the need for human input. Current rovers can take hours to navigate a few metres, with the time delay of sending instructions to the rover from earth.
The design process and concept of learning from prototypes served our Year 7’s well in their final task – designing rockets. Linking in with the work completed on forces this year, within their teams, students created individual prototype rockets before testing them outside; using pressurised air to launch them. The students then evaluated the performance of their prototypes before creating a single, improved prototype within their team. There were some difficult choices – go over budget on materials and lose their fuel allowance or use fewer resources but risk a catastrophic failure due to a weak structure or over-fuelling. There were some truly spectacular rockets, with twisted tail fins, inspired by the fletching on arrows, a particular success.
When the students were not involved with the 3 main tasks they explored the numerous interactive exhibits on offer. The highlight was a sandbox with a scanner that read the topography of the shapes created. It would then project an interactive image onto the sand, with low areas becoming rivers and high ground mountains – depending on the settings, students could also create volcanoes!
A huge congratulations to all the students that were involved over the 2 days, we hope this has shown you some of the exciting careers that a future in science could lead to.