British Science week opened with the STEM club science fair on Monday. The STEM club had been working for eight weeks on projects that were self-selected, they had to come up with a theory or question to investigate and spent time researching or carrying out practical work in order to present their results to their peers, teachers and parents. Those groups that were successful would be able to earn their Crest Bronze award as they had met the goals required for the nationally recognised award. It must be said that we were very impressed with practical skills learnt in the STEM Club. One group carried out a bacterial research project, using aseptic techniques, similar to that found in research and undergraduate laboratories. Another group used fantastic research skills in order to find out about brain development and brain disorders. The year 10 group spent weeks collecting data from a wind turbine in order to investigate the power generated, and take an in-depth look at green energy. The ideas were imaginative and varied which was going to make the science fair even more interesting.

The day arrived to present their projects and there was excitement and hard work to get the displays looking at their best. The use of balloons to decorate and add pizazz sprawled between the groups and added to a festival atmosphere. During the school day the Science fair was viewed by 13 classes from Year 7, 8 and 9, and several teachers. So, energy levels had to remain high, in order to present their findings countless times to different groups. All the presentations were amazing, and visiting pupils had really enjoyed the interactive elements to the different projects. The bread tasting, popcorn and oobleck attracting the most visitors, with the bread tasting attracting visitors more than once, well done for making such good bread!

There was still judging to come with prizes up for grabs, so STEM pupils still had to be on their top form in order to impress the judge, Dr Hone. Dr Hone was impressed with the level of effort and investigative skill used for the projects, so much so that he declared everyone a winner, however with a voucher prize up for grabs there had to be overall winners. So, after deliberating he made a really hard decision. Two projects were declared joint winners on equal points. Well done to worthy winners Amelie and Oscar (year 8) to their project looking at skin growth and repair and the role of blood cells in that process, a project that was articulate, well presented and fantastically researched, and wowed every visiting teacher with the undergraduate level of terminology used. Well done to worthy winners Seren and Kyra (year 8) for their project investigating how rates of respiration in yeast change when using different substrates. The effort was seen every week in making batches of bread with different sugars and measuring their growth. The display was colourful, interactive and informative with lots of information about respiration and their results displayed beautifully.

Your STEM teachers are so proud of all of the efforts and commitment to the projects, it truly was a fantastic day!

Thursday was the year 7 trip to the National Space Centre in Leicester. We had to leave early in order to get the most time at the centre since it was a two and half hour journey, but we made good time and arrived just after opening, along with lots of other schools. We were greeted by a member of staff that gave us a safety briefing about the centre. Personally, I have been a number of times to the Space Centre, however every time I walk in, I am overwhelmed by the scale of the centre. It really does make an impression when you see the Soyez capsule overhead suspended from the ceiling. There is always an interesting fact to learn and the interactive elements are always fun. This time I learnt that Pluto was named by an English girl, however other suggested names for Pluto included Minerva. The pupils went off to investigate the centre at their own pace and following their own interests. Most pupils first headed off to see a real piece of the moon at the top of the rocket tower and to look at the rockets. The planetarium experience was as fascinating as ever, learning about how astronauts train and about their everyday lives. The most amazing thing about the planetarium is how it makes you feel. It really does feel like you are moving along with the images. At one point we were spinning around in a centrifuge and it was quite dizzying. We also dived underwater with training astronauts learning how to fix a space capsule in buoyancy. There were divers overhead and it felt like we were in the pool with them. The time at the centre went so quickly and it was soon time to embark on our journey back to Northgate.
Friday was a day set up for Years 7, 8 and 9. The whole of Year 7 and 8 were able to see a science display by a fabulous company called Wonderstruck, who came all the way from Devon to share their wonderful show. They truly brought science theory to life with all the different experiments. There were some particularly scary experiments full of peril and loud bangs. The loudest being the pulse engine, everyone watching had to cover their ears and you could feel the vibrations through the floor. The bed of nails was interesting, especially when the danger factor was raised when Mr Digby volunteered to smash a concrete block with a sledge hammer laying over Peter from Wonderstruck, while he was sandwiched between two beds of nails! Crazy!. I am pleased to report that both Peter and Mr Digby were unharmed after the demonstration.

Invited pupils were given the opportunity and time to put into practice everything they had learnt about rockets into making their own and launching it across the field. The winners where Oliver P and Ewan T from Holmes house who had launched their rocket approximately 110 feet from the launch pad, amazing work.

After lunch students then investigated fan powered cars, by changing wheels, the power supplied, the angle of the chassis or the fans used they had to build the fastest car. Some groups found the CD wheels a little tricky to get working, and the quickest wheels seemed to be the smaller ones, with a four-battery pack to give the most power. After an hour of building and testing their cars, it was time for the house heats to see the two fastest cars from each house, that would then go through to the time trial finals. There were some very fast cars and spotting the first two across the line was a little tricky in some cases, especially as many did not always travel in a straight line. All cars were successful and nobody ended up with a car that travelled in reverse, so all teams did extremely well.

For the time trials, each winning group from the heats ran their cars, but we did not know which was the fastest! All the times were very close so with the anticipation to see which one was the best rising and a drum roll we found out that Holmes house came first and second place, third place being Hawking house. A big thank you goes to Wonderstruck for travelling all this way to inspire our pupils. A massive congratulations to pupils who fully engaged and respectfully participated with the workshops.

I hope that pupils that got involved in science week in whatever capacity enjoyed themselves. Science celebrations will carry on next week for an extended science week, with a competition to design and decorate a Lab coat that identifies issues of food production and food waste. Look out in your form and on Satchel for details.

Kyra and Seren, Year 8, who were joint winners of the STEM Fair, tell us about their experience:

‘As the first public science project I have been part of, to just be involved with all the amazingly creative projects that all the other STEM members had made was incredible. After completing the Crest Award, we found our inspiration from some of the practical tasks required for the bronze award.’

‘The chemistry and “architecture” of the bread had very intricate designs. I learnt that the yeast and sugar react together to produce CO2 and create air bubbles. I enjoyed the practical side and having successful results. We did find success but I completed it again at home to give a wider variety of results.’

‘We were intrigued by the awards that STEM had to offer and we were given an amazing opportunity to do this science fair. I learnt how yeast feeds on sugar to create CO2  and I learnt how to create a display. I learnt how to structure posters when I wrote up our results and it has been a fun opportunity to share our interest in science. This is the first public science fair I have been a part of, and I would like to continue doing things like this as part of STEM. We have been provided with so many amazing opportunities and we have learnt a lot about science and the bread making process. I am grateful for the chance to share my newly-found knowledge of the bread making process. Our favourite parts were learning new things, making a beautiful display and telling people about our scientific discoveries and experiments. We have enjoyed the science fair immensely!’

Mirren, Year 7, went to the Space Centre in Leicester and tells us about her experience:

‘Our Space trip to Leicester was on Thursday 17th March. Since the day it was booked, I was so excited! I was one of the first that got booked. The drive there and back was a little bit long but it was really worth it! Me and my best friends were playing car games, singing to music and overall having a lot of fun to try and kill the time. From the minute everyone got there, we were all amazed by how massive it was! We went in and we split into groups and I went with my three best friends (Maisie, Malachi and Ella) so we all went to the Solar system displays first as everyone else went to the Rocket tower and it was very crowded. A lot of other schools were there so we had to stick to our groups so we didn’t lose anybody.’

‘We went on a rocket experience too! That was very fun, we sat on a chair at an angle and we had to lie back. We watched the screen as it gave us a (quieter) rocket blast off! The chairs were vibrating and because the room was pitch black it felt like a real rocket! Once everyone had come down from the rocket tower, we went up to look at the 4 different floors. We had to walk up 54 flights of stairs so by the time we got to the top we were all hot and our legs hurt. It was definitely worth walking up all those stairs because the rockets were amazing! They were massive and they were easily 75 feet tall!’

‘We came down and all of us were pretty hot so we bought a milkshake from the cafe! I bought a banana milkshake (If you don’t like bananas, you are seriously missing out! This is the best milkshake I have ever had!) We had a sit down for a bit then we went and looked around the giftshop. I didn’t buy anything but my friends did. Once we had finished in the giftshop it was time for lunch and we had 30 minutes to eat. We went to look around more and it was very cool! At 13:30 we went to the Planetarium. That was amazing! We were lying back on seats at an angle and we learned about how astronauts get on with life in Space. It seems awesome! After that, it was time to go home and we got home at about 17:00. I’m so grateful I got to go to Leicester as that was probably a once in a lifetime experience!’

Poppi and Owen, Year 9, took part in the Wondersturck performance and workshop. Here’s what they had to say about the experience.

On Friday 18th March selected groups of students from Year 7, 8 and 9 participated in the Wonderstruck Science Day. The workshop started off with an assembly where Peter demonstrated practical science experiments including circular clouds travelling through the air, experiments with fire and more.

As part of the first half of the workshop, we were split into house groups to make our very own paper rockets which we would launch later on the school field. To make these rockets we had to roll up paper to make the main part of each rocket. After this we could then add things like tail fins, a cone at the top (for aerodynamics) and any additional features which could increase the distance our rockets flew after launch. After break we then headed out onto the field to launch the rockets. This was very exciting and nerve wracking at the same time as our expectations were quite high. After all the rockets had been launched they were then judged on how far they travelled. A large majority of the rocket managed to reach over 100 metres, which was mind blowing. After all the rockets had been judged we found out that a Rowling house rocket came in third, a Hawking house rocket came second and then a Holmes house rocket took first place in the competition.

Once this part of the Workshop ended we headed back to the hall for a demonstration on what we would be doing after lunch; we would investigate fan-powered cars.

After lunch, we began making our fan-powered cars. We were given some basic parts but also boxes of parts that we could use to upgrade our vehicles. We could choose from different sized propellers, wheels and amounts of batteries to make our car as fast as possible! We could also change the angle of the chassis to make our car more aerodynamic.  The aim was to make the fastest car out of all the groups. We decided to have a chassis with a smaller angle to reduce drag. We stuck with the original propeller we were given; through testing we found that this worked the best and gave us a faster car. We changed the wheels to have smaller wheels at the front and larger wheels at the back. We also moved the battery pack further backwards on the chassis to make our vehicle faster.

After an hour of upgrading and testing, we went on to compete in House heats with the two best performing cars from each House moving on to the final. Our car was the fastest in our house and came first in the heats. There was lots of tension in the final because they were time trials and nobody knew how their time compared to others. Holmes placed first and second and Rowling (our house) placed third.

We had a great day overall and we enjoyed all of the challenges! Thank you to Wonderstruck for the incredible experience!


Kyra said of the Wonderstruck performance and workshop, ‘I participated in the Wonderstruck science workshops. At the beginning of the day, years 7 and 8 were invited to watch the live experiments performed by Peter on the topic of explosions, combustion and rockets!

One of my favourite parts was where the liquid nitrogen and boiling water mixed together and created an explosion that looked like a water fountain. FACT: even though liquid nitrogen is at -196°, it is boiling.

During the workshops, we made paper rockets and shot them into the air with a compressed air cylinder and then saw which one landed the furthest. Different shaped nose cones and fins were made but some weren’t stuck together completely and so they travelled about 3 feet.

The more successful activity was making our motor fan cars. There were wagon wheels, tri-blade fans, rubber wheels, plastic wheels and double blade fans that we could swap to find the best outcome. Some cars had 4 batteries and were the fastest. The bodies of the cars were made of corrugated plastic which could be folded in different ways to make the car more aerodynamic. 

STEM club takes place every week on a Tuesday in the Science Department. There are so many different activities that have taken place already, which Mirren has summed up: ‘STEM Club has been amazing! We have all learned a lot from it such as the difference between acids and alkalis. Before our STEM Science fair, we were working on all sorts of different things each week. We were looking at titration (mixing acids together and to see if we could reverse the effect) and we even learned how to turn real copper coins into gold! This club has got to be one of my favourites and I look forward to seeing what we do next!’

A huge thank you to the Science Department for putting on such an amazing and inspiring Science Week!