June 28th, 2012
In anticipation of the official runners passing through the streets of St Albans on Sunday, 20 boys from the School had the chance to hold the Olympic Torch as part of a science lesson on energy.
They used the topic of the Olympics to discuss and illustrate the different ways energy can be stored and transferred and were obviously thrilled by the unexpected appearance of the torch, which had been brought in by science technician, Phil Prasad. Mr Prasad’s mother, Sue, was torch-bearer through the streets of Ecclesfield last week, having been nominated for her voluntary work with disabled swimmers. ‘I felt very proud of my mum,’ said Mr Prasad, ‘The atmosphere was crazy, with thousands of people out on the street and a real buzz up north!’ And now Mr Prasad, who works at St Albans School, has been able to share the excitement with other young people in Hertfordshire. ‘This is a once in a lifetime experience,” he said. “It’s not often that you get the possibility to see the torch up close, let alone have the games come to London.’
The boys created cartoons of the nine forms of energy, each featuring the torch in an original way. ‘Illustrating the energy of movement (kinetic energy) was always going to be an easy one,’ said their teacher Dr Tanner, ‘but I’ve been really impressed with the ingenious ways they’ve found to explain the tricky ideas of nuclear energy and strain energy.’
The torch has also been into lessons at Etonbury Middle School and Bedwell Primary and is now travelling back to Sheffield, where Sue Prasad plans to take it into more schools to share the build-up to the Games, which start on 27 July.
June 21st, 2012
Speeding electrons, nits and chocolate were all part of the research when Lower Sixth Physicists visited Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron radiation facility in Oxfordshire. Diamond is a particle accelerator using electrons at an energy of 3 GeV, travelling near light speed around a 560m storage ring. Magnets bend the electrons’ path, generating brilliant beams of electromagnetic radiation ranging from infra-red to X-ray wavelengths. These are used by over 2000 academic and industrial researchers working in areas as varied as the structure and properties of materials such as proteins (to provide information for designing new and better drugs), engineering components (such as fan blades from aero-engines) and conservation of archaeological artefacts.
As well as visiting several of the experimental stations known as ‘beamlines’, where they could ask questions of the designers and researchers, the students were able to take a rare glimpse inside the giant storage ring, which is usually out of bounds when the facility is operational. To celebrate Diamond’s 10th anniversary, students were also treated to a Science Fair in the giant Atrium, where they had a chance to discuss work determining how earthworms survive toxic environments, see a nit comb from Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose and build crystal shapes out of Maltesers.
June 19th, 2012
In very poor conditions for athletics, the School’s athletes excelled at the County Championships.
Fourteen students competed in different disciplines and were often close to, or surpassed, their personal best performances. In the Pre-Junior age group, Tom Fulton finished third in the 1500m, while in the Juniors, Omeiza Haruna was second in the triple jump despite not having competed all season due to injury. In the Intermediate competition, there were wins for Mark Pearce in the 3000m and George Rose in the steeplechase. George had been overhauled at the start of the home straight, but came back to win convincingly. He and Adam Thorpe ran inside the entry standard for the English Schools Competition.
However the race of the day saw Joe Redwood run into fifth place in the 800m. This was was won in a time of 1.51 by a Francis Coombe student, Kyle Langford, who is also coached by our own George Harrison.
June 15th, 2012
Students learned about the cut and thrust of successful business at the Business and Communications Conference this week. All Lower Sixth pupils spent two days at Woollams for communications training and a variety of marketing and business related activities. Students were given presentations on marketing and starting a business and were helped to improve their presentation and team working skills by team facilitators, many of whom were OAs, alongside parents and representatives from local companies.
The final event was in the style of the BBC’s Dragons Den, with each group presenting different business ideas to a team of invited ’Dragons’. The group winners pitched their ideas in the final in front of the whole year group before the winning team emerged.
The intention of the Conference was to emphasise to the students the importance of communication and presentation skills, as well as working as a team. These are key skills which employers look for when recruiting staff. The Conference also helps give students an insight into the commercial world. All Sixth formers left with an action plan of areas they would be working on as a result of what they had learned about themselves over the two days.
June 12th, 2012
Fourth form pupils had a whole morning of Maths, with six consecutive maths lessons. Not only did they all learn something new, but they also clearly enjoyed it. They were told to bring a pen, calculator and an open mind; they went away with an insight into the diversity of Mathematics and its importance in their everyday lives. Ideas ranged from the simple but effective Chinese hand signals for numbers to the mind blowing expansion of the universe. They learned how prime numbers are essential to the public key cryptography used for the protection of the internet. Many perhaps knew the link between binary and computing code, but they learned more about the algorithms encased in barcodes and the Quick Response codes they see every day. They saw that Pythagorean triples appeared long before his time and discussed why Fermat’s last theorem took so long to prove. They were interested to see that critical path analysis is an essential planning tool, without which the sports hall construction could have taken a great deal longer. Finally, if you are making decisions, be it in a game or something with real consequences, then Nash Equilibrium might just help, just so long as others do not change their minds.