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Live contact with the International Space Station from school

Issue: December 2016 363

Author: Natalie Timoney

Extract: The Royal Masonic School for Girls made history in February 2016 when it became the first school to establish a video link with the International Space Station via amateur radio – the result of a competition run by ARISS. Six girls from year 9 (age 13–14 years) qualified for Foundation Amateur Radio Licences, and students across the school took part in space-related activities during the build-up to the link-up. During the 10 minute link-up, made possible by the ARISS UK Operations team, students could see Tim on a big screen and asked him prepared questions covering space activities and careers; the event was also streamed live. This unique event provided considerable insight into ‘physics in action’ and visits by speakers from the European Space Agency, defence, aerospace and security agency QinetiQ, Airbus, and a former student now at the UK Space Agency, have enthused our students about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) careers.

Norfolk schools talked to astronaut Tim Peake

Issue: December 2016 363

Author: Stephanie Grant

Extract: Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station captured the imagination of the UK and this article describes a live radio link with him, to help him to reach out to pupils across the country and inspire them in STEM subjects. It describes the project, from bidding for the opportunity to host it, to the planning and realisation of the project, to the various legacy activities. In working with a number of different schools and STEM-related organisations, a rich learning experience was spread as widely as possible throughout the region.

Defying gravity

Issue: December 2016 363

Author: Geoff Auty

Extract: Inspired by the inclusion of a British astronaut on the International Space Station, explanations and demonstrations that lead to an understanding of how satellites stay above the Earth are described. This is a mixture of separate ideas that have been demonstrated successfully at a public exhibition of science-based activities. Although some post-16 mathematics is included, the items being described are intended to help non-specialists and can be used with students aged 11–19 and possibly younger; they are also suitable for use with mature students.

How are we able to see the International Space Station from the Earth?

Issue: December 2016 363

Author: Geoff Auty

Extract: The inclusion of a British astronaut on the International Space Station will have caused many people in Britain to take interest in seeing it pass overhead. This article explains why it can only be seen for brief times and when conditions are suitable.

An astronomical journey: one school’s experience

Issue: December 2016 363

Author: Michael Gilbert and Bernie Tedd

Extract: Raising the profile of physics is particularly important in girls’ schools. Here we describe a range of astronomical activities and observations that we have used, which we hope will inspire teachers at other schools to do likewise.

Cosmic rays and research in schools: one school’s experience

Issue: December 2016 363

Author: Andy Chaffer and Bernie Tedd

Extract: The High School Project on Astrophysics Research with Cosmics (HiSPARC) is an international project in which secondary schools and academic institutions join forces to form a network of detectors to measure cosmic rays with extremely high energy. We present results of research done by students at the King Edward VI High School For Girls, Birmingham, UK, and highlight the benefits of such projects in raising the profile of physics in schools.

Microsco-pi: a novel and inexpensive way of merging biology and IT

Issue: December 2016 363

Author: Harry R. Kent and Jonathan P. Bacon

Extract: It is well known that schools and colleges often have budget limitations that can hamper the effectiveness of practical education. This article looks at how cheap, off-the-shelf components can be used to produce a simple DIY digital microscope, and how this provides novel opportunities to integrate biology, physics, design technology and computer science in a fun and hands-on way.

Nutrition labelling: applying biological concepts and reasoning to socio-scientific issues

Issue: December 2016 363

Author: Yeung Chung Lee

Extract: Nutrition labelling, which helps consumers to make informed choices, can be used as both a context and a vehicle for students to consolidate and apply their knowledge of food and nutrition to improve health. It also facilitates students’ ability to negotiate socio-scientific issues from scientific and other perspectives. This article reports a series of hands-on and minds-on activities designed to achieve these goals.

An inquiry-based science activity centred on the effects of climate change on ocean ecosystems

Issue: December 2016 363

Author: Diana Boaventura, Elsa Guilherme and Cláudia Faria

Extract: We propose an inquiry-based science activity centred on the effects of climate change on ocean ecosystems. This activity can be used to improve acquisition of knowledge on the effects of climate change and to promote inquiry skills, such as researching, reading and selecting relevant information, identifying a problem, focusing on a research question, making predictions, planning experiments, observing and registering data, drawing conclusions, developing explanations and communicating findings to class. The activity is suitable for 8- to 13-year-old students and can be used in the classroom.

When more of A doesn’t result in more of B: physics experiments with a surprising outcome

Issue: December 2016 363

Author: Paraskevi Tsakmaki and Panagiotis Koumaras

Extract: Science education research has shown that students use causal reasoning, particularly the model ‘agent–instrument–object’, to explain or predict the outcome of many natural situations. Students’ reasoning seems to be based on a small set of few intuitive rules. One of these rules quantitatively correlates the outcome of an experiment with the characteristics of objects involved, suggesting that an increase in one quantity should bring about an increase in a related quantity. In this article we present and discuss five simple experiments to engage students and illustrate that an increase in one property doesn’t always lead to an increase in another.

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