On Monday 6th November we were delighted to welcome Sonja Bernhard, School Liaison Officer, from the University of Manchester. She delivered a couple of talks to our Year 9 students about the value of language learning and they were very interested to hear of Sonja’s experiences as a native German speaker living and working in Manchester. She also spoke to Year 12 as part of careers week and shared lots of advice about combining language study with other subjects at university. The students were able to appreciate that language learning not only involves acquiring vocabulary but also gives us an understanding of the culture of other countries.
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
Last week Stephen Melia and a team of researchers from the Health E-Research Centre at the University of Manchester, delivered a Schools University Partnership Initiative (SUPI) workshop to our Year 10 and 11 computing pupils. SUPI aims to bring cutting edge research and expertise out of the University and in to our classrooms, to encourage pupils to explore different aspects of the curriculum and to consider research as a possible future career choice.
This two hour session focussed on the power that data and technology can have in improving the delivery of the NHS and highlighted that the demand for good quality Health Data Scientists is on the increase. Firstly, pupils were encouraged to question how useful and reliable data is by analysing statistics on what impact violence on TV has on teenage behaviour. They concluded that evidence is only as good as the data it is based upon.
Next they learnt about plotting data into a visual representation and analysed information from a range of sources, about the correlation between diet, social deprivation and tooth decay. The key message extracted from this data was that an increase in sugar consumption leads to an increase in tooth decay for children.
Finally, pupils were asked in teams to focus on a solution to this problem by designing a mobile phone app. Pupils came up with a whole range of fantastic ideas which they then pitched to the panel of experts in a 2 minute presentation. The winning team won some Amazon gift vouchers.
“This was a lively and engaging workshop which really encouraged the pupils to explore the importance and impact that health data has on all of our lives. The mobile phone apps the pupils developed were both educational and entertaining and illustrated perfectly the very real application of this subject in the world of work. Our thanks to the University of Manchester and the team of researchers who came into school – I am sure they inspired many more Health Data Scientists of the future!” Hilary Langmead-Jones, SUPI co-ordinator.
The following girls came Second in the Salters Chemistry Challenge at the University of Manchester on Monday 08 June. This was a regional competition for the North West.
Maria, Maddie, Sneha and Ruby from Year 8.