Prep Science Week 2017

Day Five – Friday 16 June – mushroom farm, making toothpaste and Minecraft steam engine design

Friday was the finale of our ‘Best of British’ Science Week. It was time to go adventuring for Year 2. They visited Fiddleford Mushroom Farm which provides an amazing four tons of mushrooms per week for Tesco. Here, little eyes witnessed first-hand how fungi spores are germinated and mushrooms grown. Upon entering the room where the tiny mushrooms were growing, it was like stepping into a diminutive fairy world. A visit to the packaging room proved short as the temperature has to stay at a chilly four degrees. Little hands picked a punnet of button mushrooms to take home, and they even supplied the staff with some gorgeous large flat mushrooms.

Back at school, Year 1 pupils were thinking about two important British inventions: chocolate and the toothbrush. In celebration, Eliza-Grace made the Statue of Liberty using melting chocolate and Gwen made a fairy castle with towers of chocolate and marshmallows. Ralph wasn’t sure that the toothpaste recipe we used was the best tasting one. Emily said a big “Yuck!” There was no way she was cleaning her teeth with that!

Turning to the invention of the steam engine, Prep pupils used Minecraft to create their own steam engines – the resulting designs were amazing. Joseph H. commented: “I really enjoyed making the steam train on Minecraft.” George M. was equally effusive: “Minecraft was great fun!” Finley L. declared: “I love trains and Minecraft, so it was brilliant!”

In drama, Years 3 and 4 discussed items which they would class as British icons such as fish’n’chips, a black cab and a red double-decker bus, incorporating these into entertaining improvised scenes.

The day was rounded off with a special celebration assembly. Everyone felt that they knew far more about the ‘Best of British’ than at the start of the week.


Day Four – Thursday 15 June – more DNA, electromagnetism and a Great British treasure hunt

On the hunt for great British inventions, children in Years 3 and 4 took part in a ‘Best of British’ treasure hunt around the grounds. Amongst other ‘treasures’, they discovered the telephone (Alexander Graham Bell), the World Wide Web (Tim Berners-Lee) and the chocolate bar (Joseph Fry) – not a bad effort at all on the Clayesmore campus! Having navigated around the lake, the CCF area, The Barn and the senior DT block, the treasure chest itself was located in the Nursery.

Back over in the science labs, Prep pupils got busy exploring motors, investigating Faraday’s law of electromagnetism. Holly and Hebe would have made reliable assistants to Michael Faraday with the speed and efficiency they showed in configuring the basic structure. With some ongoing modifications to the components, all groups succeeded in devising a working motor. There was even a little help from Mr Dunlop.

Years 5 and 6 successfully extracted DNA (Rosalind Franklin) from kiwi fruit. Lareina, Holly, Zain and Ben filtered the mixture and then added some ice cold methylated spirit. The DNA could be seen floating between the two liquids surrounded by bubbles. Also on the theme of DNA, a fingerprint session took place.

‘Best of British’ banners are taking shape in the art room. The chosen artists are David Hockney, who has had a huge exhibition celebrating his work this year at Tate Britain, and John Craxton, an Old Clayesmorian and Royal Academician.

In drama, pupils created still images of famous British landmarks, including The Angel of the North, Brighton Pier, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Tower Bridge. Character walks capturing famous British personalities, such as Henry VIII, Florence Nightingale, Guy Fawkes and William Shakespeare were very impressive, with convincing body language and facial expressions on display.

The game of cricket was invented in England, of course, and, in true celebration of the ‘Best of British’, the 1st XI won the semi final of the county cup!

Day Three – Wednesday 14 June – tending to teddies and honeybees

It might have been one of the hottest days of the year so far, but, for Pre-Prep waterproofs were on the agenda. Having looked at the work of Charles MacKintosh (another ‘Best of British’) little hands got busy constructing boats and coats out of waterproof materials. Using bottles and tape, James made a super-fast craft, and, when he tested his boat on water, teddy stayed dry! Keeping teddy dry is of great importance, of course, and Delilah measured and tested lots of materials so that she could make a waterproof coat for her teddy. There was time to make hovercraft (Cockerell) balloons too – Gwen decided that the air pushes the balloon off the floor and makes the CD hovercraft whizz across the ground.

Over in the Prep, Mrs Panton brought in a special observation hive, enabling the boys and girls to see what happens inside. They all managed to spot the queen bee, have a go with the smoker and try on some bee suits, and they were even able to taste some of Mrs Panton’s special Tisbury honey – another ‘Best of British’, of course!

A group of Year 5 and 6 pupils created some impressive gliders. A specially designed cross bow, complete with guide rails (as designed by Mr Blackburn) enabled flight tests. Billy, Henry B. and Ellie M. were joint winners.

Computer scientist, Alan Turing, has certainly earned his place amongst the ‘Best of British’, and Year 8 spent time looking at his life and work, including his pivotal role in cracking coded messages during World War Two.


Day Two – Tuesday 13 June – Hero’s engine and helixes

Amongst the ‘Best of British’, James Watt turned steam power from a toy into a practical engine. Thus Hero’s engine was successfully recreated by Years 5 and 6, and there was much excitement when the models were seen to spin around. The double helix also being a British discovery, they got busy extracting DNA from a banana – a complex experiment in which the desired results were obtained. Some boys and girls enjoyed making hovercrafts – as invented by British engineer Christopher Cockerell – some with more success than others! Zain and Charlie M. enjoyed watching their crafts whizz across the table.

Year 8 were busy learning about Hubert Cecil Booth’s invention: the vacuum cleaner. They used a tin can to create vacuums, as well as looking at what happens to a balloon and marshmallow when subjected to a vacuum… Year 8 also joined Pre-Prep to create gliders – inventor George Cayley, one of the most pre-eminent people in the history of aeronautics, would have been proud. Savannah and Benjamin H. put their heads together to create a dazzling craft fit for takeoff. They even had matching helmets – all beautifully designed from recycled junk. Oliver B. and Theo’s creation was state-of-the-art, making brilliant use of a cardboard kitchen roll, paper straws and masking tape. Who would have guessed though, when admiring its slick design and colour co-ordination?

In drama, Year 8 recreated some famous British inventions using physical theatre and sound effects; the flushing toilet, as demonstrated by Cameron, was particularly impressive!

Day Two of Science Week and the ‘Best of British’ is certainly being celebrated. 

Day One – Monday 12 June Trip to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

This year’s Science Week is all about the ‘Best of British’: inventions, places, people, icons, you name it! We’re celebrating all that’s great about being British, both now and in the past. What better place to start the week than Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard? Years 3 and 4 strode aboard a replica of Nelson’s famous flagship, HMS Victory, while Years 5 and 6 discovered the fate of the Mary Rose. With strategy planning, gun loading and firing and an interactive tour of the wreck of the Mary Rose, there was plenty to entertain everyone, and, our day was filled to the brim.