• iceberg
  • boy with flowers
  • checking water quality
  • planet eclipse
  • rangitoto trees
  • kids with test tubes
  • kids with earth
  • snowy mountains
  • Rainbow Clouds

    Refraction and diffraction of light through ice crystals in the clouds

  • Philippa On The Ice

    Philippa On The Ice Philippa Werry at an Antarctic research camp 2016

New Zealand Science Teacher

Standing Committees

A week of hands-on science

To observe Conservation Week this year, Ormiston Senior College held a science-packed week, writes science technician Alison Blakey.

From 9–13 September, here at Ormiston Senior College, we held a five day series of events to observe Conservation Week. We added some science activities, too, which made it a fun week, albeit a little busy.

Having Open Evening on the Tuesday of that week added to the excitement.

Lunch time activities were offered to the whole student body. We had really good attendance especially since we were competing with their tummies!

On the Monday, we held a school-wide scavenger hunt. The students were looking for several items, such as a native New Zealand species, re-used containers, something that stores nuclear energy, an invertebrate, and so on. I had set up the lab with heaps of different re-used items, yogurt pots, polystyrene meat trays, Pringles Tubes (to store my thermometers in an upright position).

On Tuesday, we had the students make origami boxes from old magazines. The results of these were superb, and on Wednesday, all interested students took part in a science quiz, after first having pledged allegiance to either chemistry, physics, or biology.

Left: Alison Blakey with the Blakey Shield.

The winning team was presented with the Blakey Shield (named for the staff member with no allegiance, also the inaugural technician). Physics won this year. We celebrated the event with subject relevant lollies: jet planes for physics, crocodiles for biology, and sour cola bottles for chemistry.

Thursday saw a physics examination with fun questions, such as how many minutes does the whole school body use on their phones during one week? and how many dollar coins in a stack does it take to equal your height? interspersed with more difficult questions. It was a really fun time for all the students who took part.

The week ended with a forensics mystery. We ran the white powders investigation with the scenario that one of the science teachers went home late and found white powder on his kitchen bench. Are my children on drugs? he asked himself. The participating groups had baking soda, starch, sugar, and salt for observation, and vinegar and iodine as reagents. I sneakily gave one group potassium iodide as their ‘unknown’ powder, and when the KI didn't react with any reagent, and all the other groups had finished, I told the students that sometimes detectives need to call for the superintendant (me with a bottle of lead nitrate!) In that scenario, the teenagers were making P.

This concluded a great week of hands-on science.

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