Flip Video

I had some cash to spend that I had charged another school for some consultancy work.  One of the pieces of technology I bought was a flip video, mostly for evidence recording rather than for the pupils to use.  I also bought the little flip tripod.
Having used it for a few weeks, the quality of video is excellent when displayed on the IWB, and it is very handy for weaker classes to recap what they have been doing in previous lessons.  I used rechargeable batteries in my Flip but it doesn’t seem to drain them as fast as other devices I’ve used them in.
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The video below is a video I shot with the flip, showing the reaction between potassium chlorate and sugar.  The flip was stood on its tripod to give a film with no wobbles.

I haven’t used the camera with pupils yet (many aren’t up to the task) but I’ll post again if/when I do.


Wikid Science – a topic into the course.

We recently finished teaching the first module of the Wikid Science scheme.  Although we had only allocated half a term to complete the Forensics module, the class were enjoying the topic so much that I decided to work through the module at a comfortable pace and pick up the pace on the next topic.

To say the pupils have enjoyed the topic is something of an understatement.  Pupils have been engrossed in the topic and have worked hard to solve each of the mysteries presented using their new found scientific skills.  This has also had a profound effect on pupil behaviour, with pupils engaged and on task.  We have seen pupils having a bad day change their behaviour completely when entering the science room.

Things I liked about Wikid Science

  • How science works – pupils already have a basic grasp of concepts like accuracy, reliability and testing hypotheses.
  • Motivating – pupils have a role throughout each topic
  • assessment – built into each topic for pupils level 4 and above
  • real science – experiments set in a real context
  • manageable practicals – small manageable practicals that illustrate a point
  • powerpoints – many of the presentations in powerpoints that can motivate pupils

Things I didn’t like

  • We thought there was a lot of content to get through
  • Some of the lessons had a lot of discussion in them
  • Organisation of units takes some getting used to – HTML screen links resources by lessons.  No overview of whole topic so you jump from lesson to lesson rather than having all the information in one place.
  • some of the resources needed modifying for SEN pupils
  • Assessment starts at level 4 on supplied materials
  • some of presentations given as PDF files.

On the whole I’d recommend Wikid to any school wanting to pep up their KS3 science.  It’s hard to give a comprehensive overview of this topic because the format is so different to the average KS3 course.

Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments about your experiences of Wikid Science below.

Using the Wii to support learning

blog pics 002I read with interest Tom Barrett’s blog post about the Wii.  We have had a couple of Wii’s in school since May.  Our head had read newspaper stories about how they had pensioners up and moving about in retirement homes.  He hoped they would do the same for our children, which they did.  Break times and lunchtimes would see pupils jumping up and down serving tennis balls, playing baseball, volleyball, and a range of other sports.

As a science teacher I kept my eyes open for games that support the science curriculum.  Trauma Centre:Second Opinion seemed like an obvious choice.  As well as reinforcing pupil’s knowledge of human anatomy, the program encouraged development of hand/eye coordination skills, problem solving skills and encouraged pupils to read instructions for themselves.  Although a one player game, pupils have worked on their sharing and cooperation skills by deciding who plays, and who helps from the side.

Pupils have responded well to the challenges, and many lives have been lost and saved by our budding surgeons.  I’d recommend this as a good end of lesson reward if you are in the fortunate position of having a Wii in your science lab.

(Picture shows Nintendo Wii hooked up to the aux input of my projector, and a pupil carrying out basic surgery).

Using a data logger to measure change in temperature during respiration of yeast

We used the following set up.  We were trialling plastic delivery tubes – unfortunately the tubes weren’t the most convenient shape and so we had to use these large plastic bowls.


We allowed the thermometer time to equalise to the temperature of the yeast/sugar mixture then we started logging.  We saw rapid production of gas (testing of a separate sample with limewater proved it was carbon dioxide). 

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We transferred the results to the computer and graphed our results.  Pupils saw a 2 degree centigrade rise in temperature as the yeast respired (and used ICT usefully as well!)


Design an alien

We had a whole school competition in which pupils had to design an alien that could appear on Doctor Who.  Pupils of all ages and abilities took part, some submitting multiple entries with lots of detail and information about their aliens, friendly or hostile.
I hope you are as impressed by the drawings and imagination of our special school pupils as I was!


Digestive system on a tie!

Year 8&9 pupils made a model digestive system on a tie.  By the end of the lesson pupils were able to point out major organs of the digestive system and also their location.  More able pupils could also give functions of each organ.

Pupils really enjoyed making their ties and were keen to show them off and take them home when finished.

The templates were adapted from “Adorable wearables that teach about the human body”, published by Scholastic (ISBN: 0-439-22269-9)

Wikid Science and Google Apps

We are following the Forensics module of the ASE’s Wikid Science.  As part of one of the lessons pupils had to write a press release.  We decided to use our real science skills and work collaboratively – using Google Docs to work on the same document at once.

Each pupil in year 7 logged on to Google Docs (Education Edition) and loaded up the template I had created (with colour coding for each pupil).  Pupils each completed their own section of the press release and could see the updates from their friends in real time.

We would recommend Google Docs to other schools.  The price is right – FREE (but bear in mind a maximum of 10 people can work on a document at once).