NHEHS Science Week 2020

NHEHS Science Week took place from 9th – 13th March, with this year’s theme of plastics and ecological change.

The week got off to a flying start on Monday with a series of talks on bivalves and ecological change by Dr Katie Collins, a palaeontologist from the Natural History Museum, particularly surprising the Year 7s by talking about how clams are going to save the world!

Here’s what Maya M in Year 7 learned:

“Bivalves are creatures that live in water, both in the ocean and in freshwater rivers and lakes. The origins of Bivalves are unknown but scientists believe that they first appeared in the Mid Cambrian millions of years ago. Dr Katie Collins spoke to us about how bivalves were affected by micro plastics in the ocean, and why this was a problem. The delicate digestive system of bivalves means that they use density to determine whether something is food or not, as micro plastics are miniscule, they determine them as food. Micro plastics can poison not only the animal who digests them initially, but also those who consume the second, third or fourth animal who eats them leading the problem back up to us!  Bioaccumulation is the gradual accumulation of substances, such as pesticides or other chemicals, in an organism. This is what is happening with micro plastics. I really enjoyed this talk as it was super educational and very interesting. I found the talk a great start to science week, and a fun way to spend a Monday morning!”

Our chemistry department got in on the act too with a fun form time Kahoot testing our knowledge of plastics while the Chemistry Reps ran a dye fastness activity linked to the Fashion Show.

On Tuesday we welcomed Dr Charles Romain from Imperial College who came in to speak to both Senior School and Junior School about plastic waste and recycling, notably how to make ‘better’ plastics. Meanwhile, the Year 8 STEM Ambassadors had lined up a busy morning of activities, as they organised and co-ordinated excellent speakers, Geotechnical Engineer Freya Summersgill and alumna Dr Chloe Coates, Data Scientist, to talk to the whole year about their lives in STEM. Our speakers even joined in the GDSTEM challenge to design and build a model floating garden structure from recycled materials, so that farmers would be able to grow crops even in areas liable to flooding.

At lunchtime, our lovely catering team guaranteed further awareness of plastic pollution issues with their ‘plastics lunch’ featuring ‘contaminated fish,’ ‘plastic straw pollution,’ ‘plastic litter’ and ‘poisoned prawns’ among their offerings.

On the competition front, our Biology Reps ran a fun #PostAPringle challenge for the Year 7s to design a package for a single Pringle. The catch? The package had to be safely posted using the Royal Mail to school AND made of ecologically sound materials! Watch a fun video of one of the Pringles making its way to NHEHS here and  one of ‘Bob the Pringle’ being unboxed by Ms Brown here! Years 10-13 were invited to take part in a science essay competition entitled “Pollution of the world’s problems is a global problem requiring global solutions.”

Meanwhile Years 7-9 were asked to write a letter to Head of Science, Ms Brown, on why we should reduce single use plastics in school. Top entries will be published in the next edition of our science newsletter, “The Franklin” and receive House points.

Friday saw a range of fun activities starting with our Eco Reps who made bracelets from used coffee pods during form time. Year 7 designed an experiment to see if adding glycerol changes the properties of home-made plastics. Our Scientist in Residence worked with Year 8 to make plastic from food (potato starch) while Year 9 created useful items from recycled objects.

Years 3 and 4 also got involved with a visit to the Senior School labs on Friday as they learned all about the four sciences with the Year 12 Science Reps, including plant dissection, lava lamps, static electricity and brain plasticity!

Many thanks to Ms Brown, the Science Department and all the Science Reps for a brilliant week of activities!


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