Science Week 2017 – Mushrooms, life rafts and aeronatics

Mushroom farm and making toothpaste

Day Five – Friday 16 June

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!

Waterproofs and life rafts for teddies

Day Three – Wednesday 14 June

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.

Mushrooming fungi and ballooning yeast

Julie Jackson, the Head of Pre-Prep and Nursery, writes:

Best of British – Looking at female scientists. We are studying two women:

Beatrix Potter 1866 – 1943 Beatrix was a botanist, artist and storyteller. She studied fungi at the Royal Botanical Gardens and developed the theory of how fungi spores reproduce, contributing to mycological research. On her death she left over 4,000 acres of land to The National Trust.

Anna Atkins 1799 – 1871 An English botanist who was considered the first female photographer best known for her work with cyanotypes – producing images through ‘sun printing’.

We will be studying mushrooms and also taking photographs of plants and attempting to make some cyanotypes of the same plants, comparing early photography with modern.

On Tuesday we talked about good fungi and bad fungi and looked at a variety of mushrooms that we can find in our supermarket. We dissected a mushroom, looked at the gills under a hand glass and labelled all of the parts. We discovered that the spores are held tightly in the gills so decided to see if we could encourage the spores to come out. We waited until the next day but got quite excited when we discovered that we had been quite successful in getting some clear spore prints.

On Wednesday we learned about the life cycle of a mushroom and started to look at fungi that grows on living things and even on our body. The children were horrified to think that a fungi can grow on human skin.

We opened a tin of yeast and had mixed feelings about the smell of it. To prove that yeast grows we experimented with yeast balloons, putting warm water, sugar and yeast in a bottle and securing a balloon over the top. When we got back from lunch all of the balloons had blown up and the yeast had frothed up so much in two of the bottles that the side was covered with a bubbly, sticky yeast mixture.

Aeronautics in action

Year 8 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?

The ‘Best of British’ is certainly being celebrated this Science Week.