On Wednesday 25th April we were extremely lucky to have Professor Lord Robert Winston visit AGGS to speak to the whole of Y10 plus Y12 biology and psychology students. He gave a fascinating lecture that covered a wide range of topics, including the importance of failure and perseverance in scientific research, the collaboration required between the different sciences in order to drive progress, the evolution of humans and their future plus genetic technologies and the ethics of their practice in modern medicine. He also joined a smaller discussion group after school to discuss these issues and more with some keen Year 11, 12 and 13 students. We are extremely grateful for his time and energy and hope he has inspired the students to consider a broad range of scientific careers in their future.
This term the physics department at AGGS publicised the Talent 2030’s National Engineering Competition for Girls, targeting students from years 9, 10 and 12. The competition invites students to solve the major challenges of the 21st century, to get creative, get thinking and most of all – have fun!
The objective of this competition was to identify and provide possible solutions for some of the challenges of the 21st century
We were really pleased with the phenomenal interest in this competition with 97 girls from AGGS submitting an entry about a diverse range of topics which included:
Dealing with climate change
Public transport safety
The declining bee population
On 17th March 2018 a shortlisted group were invited to showcase their entries at the Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham as their entry was of particular interest to the judges. Students were given the opportunity to showcase their competition projects to the visitors of the fair.
Twenty Two of the shortlisted finalists were students from AGGS and are listed below. These students should be congratulated for their efforts for the phenomenal quality of the work they produced.
Year 9: Isabel A, Rose C, Amy C, Ella R, Christabel A, Orla B, Charlotte L, Karis M, Alison F, Connie A, Alkicia M
Year 10: Emily C, Shraddha A
Year 12: Fiona S, Kerensa S-B, Alice G, Mingya G, Hannah M, Beth G, Zoe G, Isla H, Amelia G
Over the last two weeks, pupils have been celebrating the language history and culture of India. This has focussed on our KS3 pupils, with a variety of activities taking place, such as samosa making; jewellery making; sitar playing in assembly; learning new Indian languages; talks about Indian politics, Indian history and Indian religions; Indian dancing; Hinglish; playing Kabaddi and cricket. We are very grateful to departments for coordinating such interesting activities and to the pupils themselves, who have led many of them.
We will be running a variety of activities during the fortnight from 26/2 until 9/3 to celebrate the languages, culture, politics and religions of India.
The activities are as following:
- MFL- KS3- starter activity- learn a new language- to be led by pupils in each class
- Music- Kumar sisters to play in assembly
- Citizenship- exploration of Indian politics
- PE- cricket on both Tuesdays.
- Sports leaders (Year 10) to teach Kabaddi to KS3 pupils during Wednesday lunchtimes
- Dance- Year 8 as scheme of work, taster through year group clubs to be led by older pupils.
- RS- exploration of Indian religion
- Science society to deliver to Year 7/8 classes- biology- vegetarian diet/ ivory trade, chemistry- chemicals in curry, physics- light and its effect on flag colours
- Maths- study of Indian mathematicians.
- D&T lunchtime Samosa making session; Indian inspired jewellery
- Art- paper cuts club to produce shadow puppets
- English- Hinglish with KS5
The Trafford Ogden Partnership is just over a year old and AGGS is proud of its status as the Ogden hub school. Like all of the partnerships sponsored by the Ogden Trust, its aim is to “make physics matter”, and brings together physics departments from local schools. We decided to finish the academic year with a day’s celebration of physics and to show Y12s some possible “destinations” provided by their A level physics.
The venue for this event was Altrincham Grammar school for Boys’ spectacular Physics centre and presenters were asked to lead a 30 minute activity as opposed to delivering a lecture.
Several of the presenters were recent AGGS students who were “gently” persuaded to come along and with their stories of: research at CERN, using neutrino detectors to monitor and prevent developing countries building nuclear weapons, building stable structures and polymer research. Maria Violaris and Clarissa Costen provided a Q and A session about studying physics at Oxford, and gave a talk on entropy. Tamzin Owen demonstrated a cloud chamber using dry ice and Kerry Abrams provided a hands-on activity about extruding polymers.
There was a local theme with Salford’s Acoustic Engineering Department being represented by Professor Trevor Cox who demonstrated some cutting edge sound technology used by the media. The Graphene Centre at Manchester University sent along two PhD researchers, Georgia Kime and Fiona Porter, who showed how this material will change the future. Professor Ian Morrison from Salford explained how important hydrogen will become as a future fuel. Paige-Marie from Cavendish Nuclear led a discussion group on the vital subject of assessing and limiting risk in nuclear power stations.
Lloyd Cawthorne introduced students to the Isaac Physics website which aims to develop problem solving skills on-line. Some of the girls from AGGS had met Lloyd at the physics master class in Cambridge earlier this academic year.
The Institute for Research in Schools, already familiar to several AGSB students (who have plans to launch a particle detector by balloon), was introduced to the wider Trafford audience.
Other presenters were: Dave Cotton (astrophysics), Laura Thomas (IRIS), Laurie McClymont (CERN), Jen Wilson (spectroscopes); Toby Lord and Clive Humphries (Civil engineering and structures.)
The day ended with Dr Kerry Abrams (ex AGGS) talking about her educational journey from abandoning A level studies, through FE with young children, study for degrees and now a post at Sheffield University in materials, with a consistent love for learning.
The whole event was extremely well received by the 120 or so participants and there was a real buzz in the atmosphere during the event with students getting to know each other and getting involved in the activities. The water rocket launches were particularly well received. Some quotes from students were “engaging, challenging, inspiring”; “I had a really good day; I was able to talk to current people in STEM careers, met like-minded people and had an insight into A2 physics, as well as participating in fun challenges”.
AGGS physics department
By Lucy W 8-4
Manchester University is prided as being one of the best for physics in England and their labs rumoured to be phenomenal; luckily for us at AGGS we were given the chance to visit on the 20th June. Two students from each form with an interest in science – specifically physics – rendezvoused at reception at 8;30 am before setting off in a trundling bundle of a mini-bus clad in casual clothes with small rucksacks on our backs.
Sitting in the bus, noses buried in magazine articles about string theory and LQT, we rode to the university where we were greeted and joined forces with Stretford and Well acre. We were split into groups (I was in a group with three others, Kitty, Christabel and myself – we had yellow stickers with silver drones on our chests). We were given an introductory lecture where we discussed engineering’s effect on history including the epidemic of cholera 200 years ago resulting in the development of reservoirs to extinguish the threat of dirty water in a very controversial campaign on their behalf before moving on to the cost of the life of lighting and how it changed: the early 1800s where 1 hour of work gave you 10 minutes of candle light explaining (in a way) the common illiteracy rate to today where 1 hour at the minimum wage produces 3 years of life on an LED. Thanks to engineers.
Our first task consisted of debating and pooling our answers to the questions: “What have you used electricity for today?” and “How have engineers improved your life today?” resulting in a variety of answers: for the first, electric utensils, devices, projectors traffic lights and more; for the second, there was plumbing, travel, infrastructure, medicine, electronics and even food among other things to demonstrate how much engineers do. After all, everything man-made was touched by an engineer in some way in its path to perfections – the career is immense.
Secondly, we received some equipment: a boiling tube, some wire, a voltage metre and a magnet then told to produce a voltage. Through this experiment we demonstrated Faraday’s law of magnetic induction whereby cutting the lines of a magnetic field with an electric current creates a voltage and that voltage increases in a variety of ways: using a more powerful magnet, increasing the
magnet’s speed, adding more coils to the wire or condensing the wire coils as all this means the field is being sliced more lines at a faster rate. To demonstrate this phenomenon, we wrapped the wire around the boiling tube and connected it to the metre before moving the magnet within the wires. We could also have done it vice versa by moving an electric current with in the magnet. We varied several factors such as type of magnet placing and shape of the wires and the way we moved the magnet before reaching volts from 120 to 150 by the end.
Afterwards, we engaged in some very stimulating conversations about careers, science and ethics with the STEM ambassadors as we discussed their qualifications, inspiration, career path and interest. They were emphatic and eager to debate answers for all our questions. Their enthusiasm I found inspiring paired with their knowledge and made me consider jobs in engineering I’d never thought of – they happily introduced themselves and explained their different fields with enrapture and understanding. Interviewing professionals was exciting as well as educating; we left with a rejuvenated and happy curiosity.
Lunch followed and soon it was back to experiments: demonstrating and discovering the factors effecting the voltage produced by a wind turbine. Firstly, we varied the angles of our instruments: the blades, the fan and turbine. Moreover, we reduced and increased and then varied the size of the blades before concluding that the more blades the better however if the weight is increased too much then the turbine wouldn’t spin. The same goes for their size as the bigger the blade the better for catching the wind but the weight could hold it down. Also, the opportune angle would be 45 degrees as at 90 the wind does not glance off and push it around despite hitting it full force and 0 does not catch wind at all whereas 45 is the perfect middle ground; however, I could understand why engineers decided to settle with fewer big blades despite by conclusions.
Overall, the trip was an immense success: we learnt about things we most likely won’t learn this year or maybe next and sent us away with our minds buzzing with questions and answers in a call and response fashion. I personally came away asking myself whether I was sure with what I wanted to do in the future and what engineers will do next. Well, I guess we can only wait.
Congratulation to Jorja K from Year 12 who won the School Physicist of the Year award. This is an annual, UK-wide award scheme sponsored by the Ogden Trust and are presented at the University of Manchester.
Each year teachers are invited to nominate their “best” Year 12 physics student. The student put forward by each school receives a School Physicist of the Year award from the Ogden Trust, consisting of a £25 book token and certificate presented at an evening event at the University of Manchester (Thursday 6th July). Receiving a SPOTY award will also qualify the student for the Ogden alumni association, which will give them chances for internships and other schemes if they go on to study physics at university http://ogdentrust.com/alumni-association
The 22 students on the NASA Houston trip arrived safely back in Manchester at 10am on Sunday morning. They had been travelling for about 20hrs with flights from Houston to Amsterdam and then on to Manchester. Exhausted but elated having had such a terrific experience.
The students were excellent in the way they conducted themselves and our hosts at NASA were most complimentary.
Perhaps the highlight of the week was meeting Don Thomas, an astronaut who has flown on 4 missions into space. His talk was most inspiring.
Have a look at the range of activities they did on the trip at their blog:
Amelia G and Zoe G from Year 11 have won the School Eco Factor – Sustainability Schools Challenge, run by the University of Manchester. Their team was one of three to enter the competition form AGGS. Their project tackled the food waste issue.
Upon my arrival to Whitworth Hall, I felt nothing but awe whilst looking around and taking in the historic architecture. It was such a pleasure to be given the opportunity to visit and explore the University responsible for the discovery of the nucleus by Rutherford and the discovery the neutron by Chadwick, who both went onto to win the noble prize. Without these fundamental discoveries, the world of physics would be very different.
Once inside the main hall, I found myself engaged in the works of Dr Tom Whyntie, who studied particle physics at CERN. Although he confirmed we had completed our search for particles that are part of the Standard Model, he left me with the question “What’s next?” I then heard from Prof. Lucie Green who has dedicated her career to studying the star which we rely on to survive, the Sun. She talked through the cutting-edge technology we use to study the Sun including ultra-violet telescopes and the 2020 Solar Orbiter mission to launch a spacecraft 3/4 of the distance between the Earth and Sun, which will be subject to conditions in excess of 600°C.
After a short tea break, we heard from Prof. Jim Al-Khalili who gave a fascinating lecture on fate and whether we as humans have free will or are we playing out a series of events that have already been determined by the Universe. Through many models, including Einstein’s block Universe, he suggested that we in fact do live in a predetermined Universe but we will never be able to know what our future is. Following a lunch break, I then listened to the words of Dr Michael Brooks who spoke about gravity and the recent observation of gravitational waves.
To complete the day, a former student of AGGS, Dr Helen Czerski who is not only a physicist but also an oceanographer gave us an in-depth view into the vast mysterious expanse of water which occupies the majority of our planet. Her lecture varied from the effects of ocean waves to the suffering ecosystems subject to changes in water pH due to increased uptake of CO2.
As a whole, the lectures allowed me to not only look at our world but also the Universe we live in completely differently, by putting into context just how immensely massive our Universe is. Through studying Physics and attending the Science Live lectures I can see see how complicated and interwoven everything in the Universe is.
Sophia Powell year 12