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  • Year 7 Media Correspondents Science Week Report

    Published 25/03/24

    Rocket Science

    Science has always been amazing but on Wednesday last week we had an extremely amazing show: The rocket show that we’re writing about today. The show consisted of multiple experiments and a lot of fire. But don’t worry, it was very safe.

    Charlotte’s favourite part of the show was when the balloon exploded due to the mixture of helium and a type of acid.

    Lakshi’s favourite part of the show was when we lit plastic bottles on fire, and they flung them in different directions.

    Another good part of the show was when Nathan demonstrated that, in fact, jetpacks will not be invented until a scientist can figure out how to balance human weight and the fuel used to fly.

    In conclusion, the show was a blast, and it was very entertaining, and we enjoyed it so much. We are so glad Nathan had time to show us the wonders of science, because with science, humans can achieve anything.

    Lakshi & Charlotte, Year 7 Correspondents

    Last Wednesday, KS3 had the pleasure of watching a live show of 'Wonderstruck' that was all about rocket science. It had absolutely everything, from jumping Rice Krispies to mind-blowing demolitions (amongst so much more). The show was interesting, exciting and really funny - it even had the participation of staff and peers.

    My favourite part, by far, was when we put together our very own homemade rocket engine. This was 2 litres, which we later found out was enough to propel a student (shout out to Jeeya) in a 'car' all the way across the hall. I thought this was especially cool because something so important to the field of science was right in front of us, so simple and easy to put together.

    Something else that confused me was when we set fire to a cotton wool ball and, while alight, could be picked up and tossed from one hand to the other. This proved how heat rises, so by bouncing it on a flat palm, you could avoid a nasty burn.

    The last thing I would like to talk about is one of those mind-blowing demolitions I mentioned previously. To do this, a huge balloon was filled with nitrogen, which I learnt at room temperature is a gas. Then finally, we set light to the balloon engulfing itself and the space around it in flames. To top it all off, it created a mighty bang that, even with my ears covered, was immensely loud.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this show. I learnt so much without even realising it; what an opportunity to watch first hand. Oh and, of course, I will not forget, as they kept telling us: do not try this at home!

    Ayla, Year 7 Correspondent

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  • Biology In Action

    Published 25/03/24

    The Biology in Action trip certainly provided a useful and insightful look into the multitudes of different careers and opportunities within the broad subject of biology.  A small group of us, all higher biology students, attended the trip to Emmanuel Hall in Westminster, along with a few other schools too. The centre looked amazing, with amazing speakers there too. Every lecture was around 45 minutes long, discussing various different uses of biology in everyday life and so many different career paths instead of the presumed doctor, dentist, or veterinarian that always comes to mind to a lot of people, including me, when a career in biology is mentioned. There were six lectures throughout the day, varying from exam tips to research expeditions, virology, and even methods of saving species from extinction, such as the Northern White Rhino, which was certainly unique and interesting. To me, the most interesting lecture was the one on virology, with the speaker sharing her role in science and even sharing her method of discovering a once unknown outbreak of plague around 4000 years ago, which certainly inspired me to perhaps follow a career in that sector of science. Overall, the trip opened my eyes to many unique and exciting opportunities for me in science and widened my knowledge of the subject of biology and the impact it has on our living world.

    George Claydon, Year 12

    Overall, the trip was a great day out in such a nice venue; it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to be able to listen to such experiences from experts in the field. A variety of compelling lectures were given, one on the awesome experiences in the Amazon Rainforest, major trauma centres around the UK, an emotive talk on the Northern White Rhinos, a talk from Miss Estruch and a talk from a PHD completed doctor on her experiences with researching infectious diseases from-thousand year old human remains. Constantly engaging talks allowed all the students to be attentive all of the time. The day was all in all very eye-opening and definitely pushed me more towards Biology as a whole.

    Shishir Gautum, Year 12

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  • Physics in Action Trip

    Published 19/03/24

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  • Chemistry Race

    Published 06/03/24

    Five of our top Chemistry students; Ethan Abbate, Scarlett Basquil, Leo Dhunnoockchand, Nathan Kuhn and Adrianne Yu-Mason were selected to attend the prestigious Chemistry Race held at the world-renowned University of Cambridge. 




    This Chemistry Race is a new chemistry competition in the UK for teams of 3-5 Sixth Form students organised by students at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. The race originated as a Czech competition Chemiklání at the University of Pardubice in 2015.

    The teams race against each other in solving chemistry problems; whoever gets the most points within the time limit wins! Our Year 12 students competed against Year 13 students and attained a respectable position on the leader board.

    Dr Numbere, Chemistry Department

    During the first weekend of half-term, a team of Sixth Form students, including myself, went to the University of Cambridge to take part in the annual Chemistry Race that was also taking place in Oxford as well. It was very exciting being in the lecture halls competing against other teams who were just as passionate about Chemistry - and winning! The BGS team worked hard to compete as many questions as possible in the two-hour time limit, helping each other along the way. And although we didn’t win, we had a fantastic time solving questions and having fun together. Overall, it was an amazing experience.

    Scarlett Basquil, Year 12

    During the half-term holidays, I, alongside four other Year 12 students, had the privilege of attending the Chemistry Race in Cambridge where we would compete against around 60 teams of 4–5 people. The venue for the competition was in a science lecture room, which really gave me an insight into what it is like doing a science course at Cambridge University. The competition lasted two hours in which we had to answer as many questions as possible, but had to get a question correct in order to move on to the next one, which certainly was a challenge despite our combined knowledge of chemistry. All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience and I especially appreciated being able to meet people from other schools who were also looking to further their knowledge of science. I hope that BGS will get to compete in the Chemistry Race next year as it is a superb opportunity for any keen chemist.

    Nathan Kuhn, Year 12

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  • British Science Week 2024

    Published 06/03/24
    Chemistry in Action

    On the 29th February, myself and a group of higher chemistry students went to the Chemistry in Action lecture at the Emmanuel Centre in London. In this lecture we gained an insight into multiple fields of chemistry that we could go into in the future and their current ideas and innovations in solving problems with society, the environment and industry.

    We learnt about the current progress in making batteries more sustainable by finding more environmentally friendly alternatives for their components while also trying to increase their effectiveness in supplying and storing energy.

    In nuclear chemistry we were informed about the ways that nuclear waste can be recycled in order to decrease the amount of high level nuclear waste. Some fission products can be used in medicine to target metastatic cancer cells and in space exploration in the form of nuclear batteries. They debunked misconceptions and explained in detail how nuclear waste is disposed of and how rigorous safety regulations are, which definitely helped ease a lot of our fears about the disposal of nuclear waste affecting the environment.

    Then there was a panel of Chemistry graduates who gave their experiences in university and career decisions. We could go into chemical engineering, with study years abroad, and write a PhD on a cell's chemical signals or work in industry in analytical chemistry and do an iterated Masters, or even do an apprenticeship and specialise in crystallisation of medicine. What connected all of their experiences together was a love and curiosity for chemistry.

    Since important tests are coming soon, a professional chemistry marker explained and clarified the questions on the papers and helped us avoid common errors in regard to the command terms in the question. As usual, always read the question.

    An “Accidental” Material Chemist explained how she became passionate about material chemistry through opportunities offered by university and international competitions, pushing science to its limits. She also wrote a PhD on creating a type of composite pellet that would be viable as a sustainable container of hydrogen to power cars, which involved lots of hands-on practical work and exploring different ratios of material to see new properties.

    Finally, we learnt about the ways that synthetic chemistry can help diseases like snake bites in the tropics (a commonly disregarded illness). Current treatments include antivenoms which rely on knowing the species of snake for a specific medicine or having to deal with multiple horrible side effects from receiving many different antivenoms. Antivenoms are also really expensive, hard to synthesise and hard to transport due to their temperature requirements, so chemists have been trying to synthesise glycopolymers in order to replicate the properties of antivenoms in order to diagnose and treat snake bites while also increasing accessibility of healthcare to all people.

    This was a fantastic learning experience which broadened our horizons with what we can do with the field of chemistry in the future.       

    Adrianne Yu-Mason, Year 12

    This was a fantastic introduction to British Science Week which commences on Friday 8th March, so please look out for more STEM events organised by the Science Department.

    Mrs Moore, Head of Science

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  • Royal Society of Chemistry 'Top of the Bench' Competition​​​​​​​

    Published 07/02/24

    Three teams were recently entered for the Royal Society of Chemistry 'Top of the Bench' Competition, where they were asked to create a poster on a Transition metal. 

    Congratulations to Team Yttrium; Victor Klotins, Kieren Suresh, Diana Grigoreva, Devine Kapu.

    Dr Numbere-Nmaju, Subject Leader for Chemistry

     Team Yttrium (Transition troop) 
    Won 3rd place

    Team Platinum (PAAT)

    When making this poster I honestly had no idea where to start. I enjoyed chemistry, but hadn't really thought about metals unless it was for a test. While reading the brief about what our poster needed to contain, I thought about what metal would be unique, but also had enough to write about, and I came across Platinum. Recently, in a Chemistry lesson, we learnt about how it was used as a catalyst to speed up the rate of a reaction and I thought it would be a good transition metal to make a poster on.  Angela and I did some research and delved deeper into its uses in so many industries, such as the medical and petrol industries. We realised that platinum has such a huge impact on our lives.

    Precious Nwaekpe, Year 11

    Team Tungsten (SAAF)

    The actual poster making process was completed in about an hour after I realised we had all these ideas, but it wasn’t a poster. It was fun expanding my points, but making them concise enough for anyone who passes by to realise the significance of this metal.

    It was an amazing experience to work with other Year groups on a topic so broad. The competition allowed my group and I to think outside the box, as there were really no limitations to what we could have decided to do. I found the poster project really interesting, and it has allowed me to learn more, naturally, about Chemistry in general, and an opportunity to work with others with similar interests. If given the chance, I would definitely recommend other students to get involved, as it was very beneficial and not a long project at all!

    Angela Luong, Year 10

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  • British Science Week 2022

    Published 30/03/22

    Last week BGS celebrated British Science Week with some amazing activities in school.

    Year 7 completed a cross curricular challenge in their DT lessons to design a lab coat with a theme about food waste. This is part of a national competition run by the Bayer Lab, and we look forward to selecting and sending off our favourites in the coming days.

    Year 8 took part in the marine engineering workshop that we were very happy to welcome back in person after running it virtually last year.

    “We enjoyed the workshop as we learnt a lot of science. We also did loads of experiments and practical’s which were great fun. Our favourite experiment was the one with the Plasticine. This is because I thought it was interesting that the same object with the same mass would sink if it was in a cube, however, if it was made into a boat shape it would float. And you could even add a number of marbles to the object, and it would still float.”

    Liam and Sid, Year 8

     “I really enjoyed the buoyancy workshop, and I'm sure most of the class did as well. We learnt loads of interesting things about why something would sink or float. It really opened up new possible career choices as an engineer or marine engineer that I hadn't thought much of before. I particularly enjoyed the story about Archimedes and his discovery, and the fun practical at the end where we got to build our own boats and see who had built the best (mine almost won).”

    Diana Androshchuk, Year 8


    Both Key stage 4 and Key Stage 5 teaching groups took part in a competition to broaden the scope of their scientific knowledge and also develop literacy and communication skills in the process. Students were asked to read an article or watch a documentary of their choice and write a review. It has been fascinating to see the areas of science that interest them. A huge variety of science documentaries were enjoyed and the Year 12s now have a much better understanding of how to research and access academic journals and papers. Here are a few of my favourite reviews so far:

    Review of Humpback whales interfering when mammal-eating killer whales attack other species: Mobbing behaviour and interspecific altruism?

    Links to article:

    This article discusses the phenomenon of Humpback whales interfering with and possibly attempting to prevent the predation of killer whales on other marine species, some of which were also humpbacks but the majority of which were other cetaceans, pinnipeds and a few species of fish.

    One of the first distinctions the paper seeks to make is separating killer whales into 2 ecotypes: mammal-eating killer whales (MEKWs) and fish-eating killer whales (FEKWs). I think that this is very important as the vast majority of interactions between the 2 species the paper is centred around involve MEKWs and there are very few instances of aggression between the 2 species when there are FEKWs involved instead of their mammal-eating counterparts with 1 observer even stating that the humpbacks and FEKWs travelled together for a short distance.

    The main conclusion the paper aims to draw is that humpback whales will respond to MEKW vocalisations during a hunt and quite will often go to investigate what is happening. The paper hastily brushes away the idea that the humpbacks were participating in the kill as in spite of several eyewitnesses saying they observed the humpbacks hitting the prey (in most cases pinnipeds) with their flippers or flukes, the paper proposes that either they didn't actually make contact with the prey (which was on at least 1 occasion already dead), did make contact, but it was unintentional or were actually attempting to hit the MEKWs as one observer (who saw MEKWs chasing a Steller sea lion) saw the humpback appear to try to slice at the sea lion with its pectoral fins, but it was seemingly too late with each swipe. The paper suggests that this was not in fact the humpback being unable to hit the sea lion but actually slashing at the chasing MEKWs.

    I believe that the evidence collected by the paper is reliable as it was made over 62 years by over 50 different observers. However, as the paper concedes early on, it is impossible for us to know how interactions between MEKWs and humpbacks would play out naturally as due to mass whaling, very few living people ever saw a world where the numbers of whales in the oceans weren't depleted, and it is possible that more MEKWs preyed on whales in the past but due to a lack of prey were forced to move to a new food source.

    Overall, the paper fails to convincingly portray interspecific altruism as it suggests in the title due to the fact that the evidence presents the idea that humpbacks investigating MEKW vocalisations is due to a fight or flight response (humpbacks are widely considered to be too big and slow to flee so are considered to be a fight species) and not altruism. I believe this as while, when the species being attacked was a humpback (or another cetacean) the humpbacks would vigorously attempt to prevent the kill but when it was a pinniped or other species then the humpbacks were less enthusiastic, often being perceived as more curious than aggressive and hung back on the edge of the action, only occasionally getting involved. Observers also saw male humpbacks escorting females with calves on their migrations being just as protective of calves as the mothers when MEKWs threatened the safety of the calf, but it is theorised that the escorting whales are waiting for the female to enter the breeding season again. However, it is indisputable that humpbacks do seek out and interfere with MEKW hunts so while it may not be complete interspecific altruism, to some extent, they can be seen as helping other organisms with no gain for themselves.

    In conclusion, I enjoyed reading this paper and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in zoology, marine biology, animal behaviour, or who just likes whales. This has broadened my understanding of both humpback and killer whales and serves to further our knowledge about cetaceans in order to reduce the belief that they are merely large, unfeeling creatures and cement in the public mentality that these organisms are capable of reasonably complex thought and feeling, and they should be treated as such.

    Jonathan Welfare, Year 12


    Time perception, immersion and music in video games


    In this article, the aim is to explore how time perception is affected by video games and more specifically how music affects time perception. The article concludes that time perception is affected by video games and that music also has an effect on time perception as music is likely to increase immersion in the video game. However, the article acknowledges that this is a very complex topic and so more research would be needed to confirm their findings and expand on their theory.

    The main evidence presented was the experimental data gathered by the researchers, where a simple maze video game was used with or without music and participants were asked how long they felt they had been playing for. They also filled out a survey on how engaging and immersive they found the game. I think that these results are a good indication of how our time perception is altered when we play video games, however there are too many factors to be able to say for sure.

    This article is relevant to me personally because I play a lot of video games, and I think that it is interesting to see how much music affects your immersion in a game. The evidence shown by this article has made me start to use my own music for games that I want to be immersed in instead of listening to their music. This is because the article shows that you are more likely to be immersed if you are listening to music that you enjoy rather than music that you don’t like, which can actually increase the amount of time you feel like you are spending.

    George Syms, Year 12



    A new El Dorado in space?

    This documentary describes the viability of mining asteroids for precious metals like gold and aluminium.

    Our planet is becoming more and more depleted in resources, so people have begun to look for alternatives to gather rare metals: Asteroids.

    Even though asteroids appear to simply be rock, denser metals tend to be located nearer to the centre. Many of these asteroids are rich fragments of planets destroyed, and the metals contained on one a few kilometres wide could be more than has been extracted from Earth ever.

    The documentary proposes catching asteroids as they get caught in nearby planets’ orbits, giving a reasonable window of a few weeks or months to extract a large amount of material. This would allow for a massive quality of life increase globally as previously expensive resources become significantly cheaper. However, there is a steep development curve and the sector requires an insane amount of funding.

    All in all, this documentary proved quite interesting, and I enjoyed watching it. I would recommend it to anyone.

    Kieran Burns, Year 10


    The big event of the week, however, was the Wonderstruck Rocket Show which took place in the hall four times throughout the day. Years 7 - 10 all attended and were wonder struck with all the rockets, explosions and science on display. A huge thank you to the Parents’ Association who raised the funds to pay for this event and also to Mr Elphick for trusting that the fire alarms would not be set off!

    Here are a few images, but please see the website where a STEM page is under construction at the moment and videos from the day will be appearing shortly.

    Ms Lusted, Science Department & STEM Coordinator


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  • Visit to the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture ~ 16th December 2021

    Published 17/01/22

    Professor Jonathan Van-Tam - Going viral: How Covid changed Science forever. 

    Royal Institution website

    ‘The Christmas lectures are the most prestigious event in the Royal  Institution’s calendar, dating from when Michael  Faraday founded the series.

    They are the world’s longest-running television  series and always promise to inspire and amaze each year through explosive demonstration and  Interactive experiments with a live theatre audience.’

    Having the benefit of membership of the Royal Institution allowed the science department to enter the ballot for tickets to the annual Christmas lecture. For the second year we were successful, and were allocated three student tickets.

    As a reward for their hard work and commitment in all areas of science study; students were selected at random after recommendations from their science teachers. From Year 12; William Henderson and Emily Dastjerdi and from Year 11 Maya Broughton were chosen from the many student suggestions. These students were escorted by Mrs Vialls & Miss Petrie to the Royal Institution on the evening of 16th December.

    Professor Van-Tam or ‘JVT’ as he likes to be known, was appointed Deputy Chief Medical Officer in October 2017. He became a national figure during the Covid -19 Pandemic through his appearances, as Deputy to Professor Sir Chris Whitty, at the Downing Street Prime Minister briefings. His use of colourful language and clear descriptions of statistical data made him a popular figure throughout the national lockdown.

    The filming of the Christmas lecture was live, and we experienced what it is like to take part in a TV programme. Professor Van-Tam explained the technology of masks and why they were an important tool against the spread of the virus. He emphasised how the fight against the spread of Covid was an international collaboration of scientists in different scientific fields. To illustrate this point he was joined by experts. Professor Catherine Noakes, an Engineer who specialises in airborne infections, illustrated how important ventilation is in dispersing virus particles. Mathematician Professor Julia Gog also joined the lecture and demonstrated the effect of the spread of the virus with reference to the R number through some very clever technology displayed on the audience's mobile phones.

    This was a very unique and enjoyable opportunity for us all!

    The series of three episodes of the 2021 Christmas lectures can be viewed on the BBC iplayer.  Royal Institution 2021 Christmas Lecture

    Mrs Vialls, Head of Science


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  • Science Newsletter Articles

    Published 08/10/20

    Please click here to read this collection of articles recently featured in the BGS Newsletter...

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