Category Archives: Extra Curricular

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!

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

MFL Poetry Success

Trisha and Sophie - MFL Poetry competition Winners
Trisha and Sophie – MFL Poetry competition Winners

We are delighted to announce that Sophie H and Trisha S won the KS4 category of  the Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition at a National Celebration of the MFL poetry event at MMU.

Trisha and Sophie have been invited to read out French poems which they wrote and entered for the competition at MMU. We were only allowed to enter four poems, so to have two being read out and winning awards is a great achievement.  The students wrote their poems unaided.

They were interviewed by That’s Manchester TV, and were very impressive by the natural way they talked to the interviewer.  As is to be expected, Sophie and Trisha were a credit to the school in their behaviour and in what they said to people during the proceedings.

See below the interview on That’s Manchester TV news (There is a bit about book benches first – the poetry starts at about 1 min 5 sec):

STEM Club’s 10 Beautiful Chicks

STEM Club Chicks
STEM Club ChicksSTEM club have worked long and hard to raise money to hatch some eggs in school. Ten eggs arrived on Monday along with an incubator, a brooder and all the food and bedding required. Our first hatch was on Tuesday and the last on Thursday. For the first time ever we have had 100% success rate and now have 10 beautiful chicks; 2 boys and 8 girls. Some students have even been lucky enough to witness a hatching. We are investigating at what age they lose their egg tooth and what age they start getting feathers. We are also weighing them daily to see if the boys and girls grow at different rates. The chicks will stay with us for another week before returning to live on a free-range farm. Earlier in the year we ran a competition to name the chicks and the lucky winners will be announced next week.
STEM Club Chicks