April 29th, 2012
The Stephen Hawking Society was treated to an explosive lecture by Richard Harrison, who talked about ‘The Physics and Chemistry of Fireworks’ before the Society’s annual black tie dinner. Mr Harrison works for the Symbian Foundation which is key to developing the operating system for Nokia devices, but he is also an avid pyrotechnic and works on such big events such as the acclaimed display in Verulamium Park.
Much to the surprise of the audience, Mr Harrison ignited a rocket in the BLR to demonstrate how the burning speed of a composition can be controlled through insulation. He discussed how different derivatives of black powder can be obtained by altering the mix of potassium nitrate, sulphur and carbon, and how coloured fireworks can be obtained from the burning of various metal chlorides in the correct proportion. Strontium, barium and copper chloride species burn red, green and blue respectively. As a final demonstration the audience was treated to a deafening ‘whistling’ firework, which is manipulated by introducing air holes to the composition.
With the seating plan arranged to mimic alkane hydrocarbons and flowers vased in conical flasks the scene was set for the dinner. The meal itself was a splendid affair for 112 guests accompanied by a science based quiz. The evening was rounded off with an inspirational recorded message from Stephen Hawking himself.
Report by Alex Shavick
April 27th, 2012
The School’s new Sports Centre is now complete, on budget and on time. This complex project, begun when Ian Jennings took his spade and raised the first turf last March, has now reached fruition. Thirteen months after that first excavation, with sports hall, swimming pool, fitness suite, climbing wall dance studio and assorted offices complete, the keys have been handed over to the School. Gary Wykes, director of SDC builders of Bedford, who have masterminded the construction of the £6.6m sports centre, was delighted to hand over the keys to Headmaster Andrew Grant. A Sports Centre Manager, Mr Scott Siery, has been appointed, and the first set of practical trials of the facilities are now under way.
See the latest photographs of the completed buildings can bee seen on the latest entry on the Sports Hall Blog.
April 22nd, 2012
Eleven U15 cricketers spent four days over Easter at Millfield School for an intense training programme. They were able to use the wonderful facilities with Mark Ilott (ex Essex and England), who ran the coaching sessions, assisted by Mr Balden. After the rigours of batting and bowling, evenings were spent playing tennis, golf, football or socialising. The boys played in a variety of conditions, from fielding in the rain to batting in very warm temperatures in the cricket bubble.
After a first day learning new fielding drills, Mark Ilott used a video camera. to analyse bowlers’ actions. The same techniques were used on the batsman the following day. The concentrated batting drills in the bubble were us tough because of the heat, making the outdoor nets something of a pleasant relief.
All the boys enjoyed the camp, improving their skills enormously in preparation for the forthcoming season.
Report by Patrick Scott
April 20th, 2012
Large groups of pupils braved various shades of inclement weather to complete their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition training over the Easter break. Students aiming for their Silver and Gold awards took to the hills in Snowdonia and the Peak District over the Easter weekend and in the week afterwards. The Wales expeditioners were disconcerted to hear that the first campsite was almost deserted because other groups had their tents broken by the weight of snow, but thankfully conditions had much improved. Micronavigation and the rough terrain walk were exhausting but enjoyable in knee-deep snow, though much of that had thawed by the time the groups did their practice expedition.
The groups in the Edale Valley had to cope with one of the hardest Peak District practice expeditions in recent years; the rain was relentless, day and night, and visibility often was no more than a few metres when out of the valleys, where the wind did its best to knock the students off their feet. The pupils, though, showed great strength of character in overcoming the meteorological challenges and getting the key skills right both in the campsites and on the hills.
Students on both trips worked well together and successfully completed their demanding routes. They will have learnt valuable lessons ahead of their qualifying expeditions later in the year.