Change and challenge for Science Week!

It was a case of ‘all change’ for Science Week (13-17 March) at Sydenham High Senior School.

Students got involved in a wide range of STEM activities built around the theme of change and using inquiry-led learning embedded into curriculum lessons.

The week started with an Assembly from new Head of Chemistry Miss Lucy Webber, who illustrated how science is constantly in a state of change.

Year 7 spent the week learning to be forensic scientists, while Year 8 planned, conducted and wrote poster presentations on experiments with spaghetti.  Year 9 practised collaborative working to design the best coffee cup and Year 10 used logical thinking skills to solve visual scientific puzzles about plants and animal behaviour. This represents 20 per cent of their IGCSE assessment.

There were also a series of lunchtime workshops – from dissection to chemical code-breaking.

However, the hit of the week was a ‘meet and greet’ on National Demo Day (Thursday 16 March) with some of nature’s top change experts – two beautiful chameleons, on loan from Dulwich College. This attracted the kind of queue outside the Biology lab that would normally be reserved for human celebrities!

Students had to opportunity to hold the chameleons, who seemed very keen to climb up their arms – and even onto their heads in some cases – and watch them gradually change colour to adapt to their surroundings.

“They were so cute and pretty amazing,” said 13-year old Year 9 classmates Alisa Gini and Nina Mattinson.  “We could see them shedding their skins too.”

The final activity of the school’s Science Week was an engineering and physics challenge for Year 10.  Teams competed to build the tallest self-supporting tower possible, using a set number of pieces of spaghetti and some marshmallows.

“The principle behind this year’s Science Week has been to build inquiry-led activities into each year group’s science lessons which stretched and challenged their skills at each particular stage of their STEM learning,” said Head of Science Janie Tilley. “The challenges not only involved practical techniques but also collaborative working, planning, communication skills and critical thinking.  In many cases students needed to realise that sometimes what you see initially is not the full story.”