Biology Photography Competition

Thank you to all the entries in our nature photography competition.

We have had over 80 pictures submitted and our guest judge, Dr Pickering, is currently abroad, but has agreed to judge the pictures and provide a digital camera as a prize. We will announce the winners on course due, but the biology department were extremely impressed by the quality of the submissions.

Please have a look at the gallery below:

Aaishah A - Mushroom
Aaishah A – Mushroom
Tabitha H - Journey
Tabitha H – Journey
Tabitha H - Entropy
Tabitha H – Entropy
Tabitha H - Abundance
Tabitha H – Abundance
Sudiksha D-K - Pollination Rounds
Sudiksha D-K – Pollination Rounds
Sudiksha D-K - Lovers on a Leaf
Sudiksha D-K – Lovers on a Leaf
Sudiksha D-K - Jasmine in Bloom
Sudiksha D-K – Jasmine in Bloom
Sudiksha D-K - Inquisitive Honey Bee
Sudiksha D-K – Inquisitive Honey Bee
Sudiksha D-K - Hide and Seek
Sudiksha D-K – Hide and Seek
Shreya D - Wasp
Shreya D – Wasp
Roxy R - Sunset 2
Roxy R – Sunset 2
Roxy R - Sunset 1
Roxy R – Sunset 1
Rishika D - Flower
Rishika D – Flower
Rhea B - Sky on Car Roof
Rhea B – Sky on Car Roof
Rafa A - Sunset
Rafa A – Sunset
Polina P - Droplets
Polina P – Droplets
Parnika L - Leaf
Parnika L – Leaf
Nishi U - Fungi
Nishi U – Fungi
Mr T Copestake, teacher - Pig
Mr T Copestake, teacher – Pig
Mr T Copestake, teacher - Cox
Mr T Copestake, teacher – Cox
Mrs A Hamilton, teacher - Wordsworths grave
Mrs A Hamilton, teacher – Wordsworths grave
Moyosoreoluwa A - Lake
Moyosoreoluwa A – Lake
Martha W - Scotland
Martha W – Scotland
Martha W - Little Robin Redbreast
Martha W – Little Robin Redbreast
Martha W - Guillemot Rock
Martha W – Guillemot Rock
Martha W - Flowers by the Sea
Martha W – Flowers by the Sea
Martha W - Fighting Grebes
Martha W – Fighting Grebes
Martha W - Blue on Blue
Martha W – Blue on Blue
Lucy W - Goat 3
Lucy W – Goat 3
Lucy W - Goat 2
Lucy W – Goat 2
Lucy W - Goat 1
Lucy W – Goat 1
Lucy W - Distance
Lucy W – Distance
Lucy B - Croc
Lucy B – Croc
Lawiza K - Leaf
Lawiza K – Leaf
Karis M - Komodo
Karis M – Komodo
Karis M - Cat
Karis M – Cat
Karis M - Butterfly 3
Karis M – Butterfly 3
Karis M - Butterfly 2
Karis M – Butterfly 2
Karis M - Butterfly 1
Karis M – Butterfly 1
Jemma G - Sunset
Jemma G – Sunset
Jemma G - Statue
Jemma G – Statue
Jemma G - Flower 3
Jemma G – Flower 3
Jemma G - Flower 2
Jemma G – Flower 2
Jemma G - Flower 1
Jemma G – Flower 1
Jemma G - Dog
Jemma G – Dog
Hollie F - Bird
Hollie F – Bird
Gabrielle H - Cow
Gabrielle H – Cow
Freya P - Butterfly
Freya P – Butterfly
Eve G - plant
Eve G – plant
Eve G - Mushroom 2
Eve G – Mushroom 2
Eve G - Mushroom 1
Eve G – Mushroom 1
Eve G - Cone
Eve G – Cone
Eve G - Cat 2
Eve G – Cat 2
Eve G - Cat 1
Eve G – Cat 1
Erin E - Small is Beautiful
Erin E – Small is Beautiful
Emaan A - Sunset
Emaan A – Sunset
Elizabeth P - Swan and Cygnets
Elizabeth P – Swan and Cygnets
Eileen Y - Reflection
Eileen Y – Reflection
Eileen Y - Lake
Eileen Y – Lake
Eileen Y - Bird
Eileen Y – Bird
Connie A - White Flower 2
Connie A – White Flower 2
Connie A - White Flower 2
Connie A – White Flower 2
Connie A - Pink Flower 3
Connie A – Pink Flower 3
Connie A - Pink Flower 2
Connie A – Pink Flower 2
Connie A - Pink Flower 1
Connie A – Pink Flower 1
Connie A - Leaf 2
Connie A – Leaf 2
Connie A - Leaf 1
Connie A – Leaf 1
Connie A - Eye
Connie A – Eye
Connie A - Deer 3
Connie A – Deer 3
Connie A - Deer 2
Connie A – Deer 2
Connie A - Deer 1
Connie A – Deer 1
Alex K - Bear
Alex K – Bear
Abby K - Bee
Abby K – Bee
Aaliyah M - White flower
Aaliyah M – White flower
Aaliyah M - Tree
Aaliyah M – Tree
Aaliyah M - Purple flower
Aaliyah M – Purple flower
Aaliyah M - Pink sunset
Aaliyah M – Pink sunset
Aaliyah M - Pink flower 2
Aaliyah M – Pink flower 2
Aaliyah M - Pink flower 1
Aaliyah M – Pink flower 1
Aaliyah M - Pink blossom
Aaliyah M – Pink blossom
Aaliyah M - Leaf silhouette
Aaliyah M – Leaf silhouette
Aaliyah M - Dead pink flower
Aaliyah M – Dead pink flower
Aaliyah M - Cherry tree
Aaliyah M – Cherry tree
Aaliyah M - Blossom tree
Aaliyah M – Blossom tree

Biology Week – Wildlife Photography Talk Report

A report by Lucy W, Year 9:

Biology week is coming up and, like the majority of the country, Altrincham Girls Grammar School is joining in with the festivities: the first opening for students and teachers alike, was a wildlife photography talk on Wednesday by the esteemed Doctor Pickering.
Before his retirement, Dr Pickering used to work here at AGGS as a head of biology; but now he travels across the globe and therefore has collected a rather respectable photographic collection. In fact, several of his pieces have featured in textbooks across all three sciences, especially the ones capturing extremely rare moments in time. It’s true he’s a very skilled man.

Firstly, he started by displaying an immense humility by showing the first picture he ever took of wildlife with his first camera at 14. The was grainy and the image ambiguous in detail but the bird erect in the centre gave us a phenomenal insight into how much he has improved since then – he deplaned to us that much of his work is accomplished through luck and chance. Also, that via risk taking, for instance: a rapid fire shot when out on a safari drive, could turn out to find a treasure trove.

With this promised understanding ensured, he moved on to the technicalities. Stating with the subject’s roll in any image. On the one hand, he told us that the rarity of the animal and moment greatly impact the need for the photo. For example: he showed us a brilliant image of a blue tongued skink with its mouth open which he had taken. Because snapping such a picture is remarkably rare the picture took off much faster than he anticipated. With a constant want for it from every side. Furthermore, he explained the need to understand why people want the picture.

Another vital part which he greatly emphasised was the effect of an environment of control on the validity of the picture – you just tell people that the photo was taken in such a way that the animal was not entirely free so that people don’t believe incorrectly despite the possibility that it may look so. Otherwise the image could be discredited when discovered. Moreover, you must debate whether control is appropriate for that specific animal and the conventions of the photo. Although it usually is.

Secondly, we discussed the importance of knowing your kit. A moment you wish to capture could disappear in the time it takes to blink, as he said, so it is nigh impossible for any human to have reflexes to capture. Therefore, being able to handle your camera without attention is an invaluable asset. This then led on to a section on exposure and finally composition.

According to Dr Pickering, how you use exposure is vital to the final product of an image because it concerns how much light is let through which in turn effects the result of the many colours (or reflectants) in an image. In his booklet “Handbook of zoo photography” he specified the three different types of exposure: partial, spot and evaluative as well as the details of the exposure triangle which is comprised of aperture, shutter speed and ISO (or sensitivity). He also managed to detail the three types of exposure: partial, spot and evaluative which each differ depending on not only how much light it lets in but what part of the image it using to decide that with spot using a section in the middle and evaluative miraculously taking data from several parts of the image to produce a better quality, realistic picture. This is especially useful for white animals to make sure they don’t appear grey. It is useful to know that evaluative is the best technically however, spot is useful if you want to put emphasis on a specific section just like blur is useful to suggest movement and atmosphere.

Finally, there’s the question of composition. Apparently, images are more captivating and interesting if, instead of having the subject being in the middle you split it into a 3 by 3 grid and put the points of focus in the thirds as well as using diagonals to create realistic variety and interest. Especially, because the brain instinctively enjoys that structure more than another. Furthermore, making something unusual is fantastic, especially for primates due to the rarity of capturing such moments. It also adds a reliability to the image which would otherwise be lost.

Amazingly, all this thought goes into every picture Dr Pickering takes and each is a success due to such a brilliant technique. Hopefully, this will help many more generations experience wildlife like never before and appreciate the work of a truly phenomenal man and the nature we are surrounded by.

Written by Lucy W, Year 9

Biology Week – Postmortem

Postmortem, Biology week 2017

On Saturday 14th October 98 keen biologists, from Y11-Y13, came into school for a postmortem study day to finish our Biology Week activities. Over the course of four hours, they watched a postmortem of a semi-synthetic cadaver. They were able to get hands-on experience of handling brains, lungs, digestive systems and much more (from ethically sourced animal remains) whilst learning a huge amount about human body systems, the causes and treatments of disease and the language that forensic scientists and medics use when describing injuries and incisions. No-one fainted, despite some pretty pungent moments, and this invaluable experience will be really beneficial to many hoping to pursue scientific careers in the future.

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Germany Trip, October 2017

Germany Trip, October 2017

Over half term, 40 pupils from year 9 visited Germany. The aim was to give pupils a taste of German culture and for them to practise their German in authentic settings. They had a fantastic time exploring Koblenz, Trier and Rüdesheim and particularly enjoyed the trip to Phantasialand, a theme park. We also managed to fit in three cable car rides in four days! The pupils’ behaviour was superb and was commented on by our coach driver and the hotel staff. Gut gemacht!

Y11 Willmott Dixon Site Visit

Y11 Willmott Dixon Site Visit

Y11 Willmott Dixon Site VisitThe winning team from our Y10 Willmott Dixon Enterprise day which took place in July, went on a construction site visit to Manchester University as part of their winning prize. They visited the Brunswick Park site and Schuster Building, which Willmott Dixon have been working at since last April.

Y11 Willmott Dixon Site Visit
Professor Brian Cox’s new Physics Lecture room

It was interesting to see how all the planning and design had all come together to provide an impressive new £7.8 million state of the art physics department, complete with a modern lecture room for Professor Brian Cox to hold his physics lectures. The students got to meet the Construction Manager of the University, Simon and were shown round the site by Darrell, the Senior Build Manager and Apprentice, Bethany O’Neill, who was an excellent and enthusiastic role model for women in the construction industry. Y11 Willmott Dixon Site VisitBethany explained about the many different roles for women in construction and in particular her apprenticeship route as a Quantity Surveyor with Willmott Dixon. The students also got to see the Brunswick Park site which is going to be a lovely park area for the university students to walk through and saw the intricate laying of the Portugese style paving. The students asked lots of interesting questions and got to complete an online quiz about which sector in construction they would be most suited to. We would like to thank Willmott Dixon for putting together such an excellent site visit programme and for providing lunch.

The students all from 11-5 were: Oliva, Poppy, Diana, Imogen, Caitlin and Natasha.

Year 9 Computing Students at Barclay’s ‘IT Girls Allowed’ Event

Barclay’s annual ‘IT Girls Allowed'

On Thursday 19th October, we took 10 Year 9 students to Barclay’s annual ‘IT Girls Allowed’ event at Radbroke Hall. The event is put on each year to inspire young girls into the ever growing world of computing and technology.

Barclay’s annual ‘IT Girls Allowed'The day began with a talk from a young female apprentice who works in Barclay’s cryptography team. From there, the 10 attending schools were spilt into three groups and headed off to their first activity for the day. For us, it was to program robots to manoeuvre around a course. In pairs, the girls set out to program their robots to firstly follow a solid back line course – similar to a self-driving car. After much programming and testing, we all managed to successfully manoeuvre around the tricky course. Following this, the robots had to use their inter-red sensors to move around a space with objects in the way – similar to the mars rover.

Barclay’s annual ‘IT Girls Allowed'Activity two was to design the future. The challenge was set to design a new piece of technology, the most innovate three from each group to present their idea at the end. Christabell and Lois’ ideas took them through to the final in their group, taking home 1st and runner up prizes – with the first prize being an Amazon Kindle Fire!

Barclay’s annual ‘IT Girls Allowed'The last activity of the day was cryptography, in which the girls work in their school groups to crack as many encrypted messages as possible. In the 20 minutes they had, the team managed to crack a staggering 45 messages, crowning them the winning team for the day.

An enjoyable and inspiring day was had by all. Once again, the girls doing the school proud.

Enhancing Photosynthesis Talk

Enhancing Photosynthesis Talk
Enhancing Photosynthesis Talk

Dr Hartwell from Liverpool UniversityOn Thursday 12th October, Dr Hartwell from Liverpool University spoke to biologists about the problems we face in food production if global warming continues. He explained that his lab is attempting to genetically engineer crops to carry out alternative mechanisms for photosynthesis that have evolved in cacti, that allow crops to withstand droughts and produce a greater yield. After the talk, Dr Hartwell emailed school to compliment our sixth form students, saying “You should be very proud of such a bright set of students; they were asking questions that were comfortably at second year undergraduate level!

Superbugs Talk, Biology Week 2017

Old Bugs New Drugs Talk, Biology Week
Old Bugs New Drugs Talk, Biology Week

Professor Roberts from Manchester University joined us on Wednesday for a fascinating talk about the challenges of antibiotic resistance and the current research to overcome these problems in the search for new ways to prevent diseases spreading. With so much in the news about the misuse of antibiotics and the lack of new sources, this talk was well attended by students, who were struck by the potential crisis the medical world faces if we cannot find new drugs for some very old bugs!

Old Bugs New Drugs Talk, Biology Week
Old Bugs New Drugs Talk, Biology Week
Old Bugs New Drugs Talk, Biology Week
Old Bugs New Drugs Talk, Biology Week
Old Bugs New Drugs Talk, Biology Week
Old Bugs New Drugs Talk, Biology Week
Old Bugs New Drugs Talk, Biology Week
Old Bugs New Drugs Talk, Biology Week

Safari Rangers from Chester Zoo, Biology Week 2017

Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk

On Monday 9th October, all Y9 students received a talk from a Chester Zoo Safari Ranger. Marisa and Mike were both inspiring representatives from the zoo who answered questions about different careers in the zoo, animal conservation, illegal trade of animals and animal behaviour. The Y9 students were really well behaved throughout and asked lots of thoughtful, intelligent questions.

Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week - Chester Zoo Talk
Biology Week – Chester Zoo Talk

Biology Bake Off, Biology Week 2017

Thank you to everyone who entered the amazing Biology Bake Off competition! The standard this year was incredibly high and made it almost impossible to pick winners. Mrs Hulme and Mrs Clutton had a real challenge and after tasting all the entries decided on winners in different categories:

Most Inventive – Grace, Polina, Eva Hannah – brain on books

The brain - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Most Inventive – Grace, Polina, Eva Hannah – The brain – Biology Week Bake Off 2017

Scientific realism – Mimi, Connie, Alicia – red blood cell

Red blood cell - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Scientific realism – Mimi, Connie, Alicia – Red blood cell – Biology Week Bake Off 2017

Highest technical detail – Aaliyah, Sarah, Zara – plant cell, interior and exterior

Plant cell - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Highest technical detail – Aaliyah, Sarah, Zara – Plant cell – Biology Week Bake Off 2017

Best tasting vanilla – Riya, Maryam, Alisha, Sairish – giant eye ball

Eye ball - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Best tasting vanilla – Riya, Maryam, Alisha, Sairish – Eye ball – Biology Week Bake Off 2017

Best tasting Chocolate – Ellie, leaf laugh, love

Leaf Laugh Love - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Best tasting Chocolate – Ellie – Leaf Laugh Love – Biology Week Bake Off 2017

The cakes are being sliced and sold to teachers to raise money for Macmillan. Well done to everyone who entered – as you can see from the pictures the entries are amazing and tasted great too!

Brainstorm of biology - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Brainstorm of biology – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
The brain - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
The brain – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
The brain - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
The brain – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Phagocytosis and agglutination of pathogens - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Phagocytosis and agglutination of pathogens – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Eye ball - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Eye ball – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Eye ball - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Eye ball – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
DNA cake pops - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
DNA cake pops – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Animal cell - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Animal cell – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Eye balls - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Eye balls – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Brains- Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Brains- Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Eye diagram- Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Eye diagram- Biology Week Bake Off 2017
The heart- Biology Week Bake Off 2017
The heart- Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Kidneys - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Kidneys – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
The heart- Biology Week Bake Off 2017
The heart- Biology Week Bake Off 2017
The kidney - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
The kidney – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Plant cell - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Plant cell – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Plant cell - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Plant cell – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Garden of biology - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Garden of biology – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Red blood cell - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Red blood cell – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Red blood cell - with oxygen - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Red blood cell – with oxygen – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Leaf Laugh Love - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Leaf Laugh Love – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Deconstructed Face - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Deconstructed Face – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Parts of the body - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Parts of the body – Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Skin - Biology Week Bake Off 2017
Skin – Biology Week Bake Off 2017