Archive for the ‘Physics’ Category

Another week and another successful Science club meeting – well, almost…..


As the year 7 and 8 science enthusiasts began to get to grips with some rocket building, a small glitch almost spelt disaster for the meeting!

Instead of building some mini-rockets, the girls got to begin thinking about how best to design their rockets, and discuss the best way to test them.

Should we aim for the highest rocket launch? Or the greatest distance travelled? Or should we aim to launch our rockets as fast as possible?


These are all factors the girls came up with to investigate, and we will be looking at investigating them all in next weeks club! So if you couldn’t make it today, make sure you come along for some rocket building next Thursday! 12.45pm in Science 5 🙂

Miss Gilleece 🙂

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Welcome back!

Posted: September 27, 2012 by Mr Pimentao in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Uncategorized
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Loreto Science is back , and welcomes everybody to a new year of discovery.
A year of exciting activities is just beginning, so we’d like to invite you to join Miss Gilleece on a journey through the world of Mad science every Thursday at 12:45 in SC5.

This week saw year 7 and 8 students getting to grips with lighting effects. The group enjoyed using prisms and filters to come up with some spectacular images (and stories!) for their light shows – with some trying to act out an X-Factor audition!

The club will hopefully see students gaining a Crest award by the end of the year; some of the topics we will touch on will include rockets and medical physics, alongside a project the girls will design for their Crest award.

So if you haven’t already come, don’t worry!! You can drop in any Thursday, but I’d love to see you there every week! 🙂

See you all next Thursday!

Miss Gilleece

On 4th July students and staff took part in the 24 Hour Water Rocket Challenge, a World Record attempt. Organised by the University of Central Lancashire and NASA, the aim is to have as many water rockets launched around the world in a 24 hour period.

Water rockets are really simple to make – they’re just 2L bottles with some water and high pressure air, but the result is amazing. Taking off at speeds of around 90mph, experiencing forces 60 time greater than gravity and reaching heights of at least 45m, they’re a great way to experience forces and momentum in action.

We were lucky enough to have two witnesses from local business Cotswold Camping (thanks Jim and Ant) and managed to achieve 16 separate launches over lunchtime. I’ll update this post when I hear if the World Record was beaten, but it’ll take a while for the organisers to count and verify all the results.

Thanks to all those that took part or came and watched.

Read more at the St Albans Review newsite

A water rocket blasts off from Space Station Loreto! (photo from St Albans Review – thanks!)

The 21st of July 2012 played host to the annual Maths and Science Day. Maths and Science Day allows all year 8 students to work off timetable for the enire day, working in teams to solve scientific and engineering challenges. Deviating from the task of previous years (parachutes for eggs) the teams this year were set the challenge of building a bridge that covers a 50cm span using only spaghetti and hot-melt glue.

The girls got straight to work, ably assisted by Yr 12 students. They worked really well together, with each student contributing to the team design.

Eventually, when all the bridges were built it was time to test them. Bridges were gradually loaded with more and more force until they broke. The winning team would be the one with the highest load:weight ratio. After a nailbiting testing session, a winner was declared – Team 25 with a load:weight ratio of 11:1!

Bridge 25 – the winning bridge!

After this the teams got together to create a poster explaining their design, the science behind the engineering of bridges and an evaluation of their bridges performance. Team 10 were judged to have the best poster for their careful analysis of why their bridge collapsed with only 10g on it!

A spaghetti bridge, inspired by a Warren Truss bridge

Every team worked incredibly well – their bridges may not have held a great load but they all produced a structure which they could be proud of.

Testing bridges

Funding for the purchase of the hot-melt glue guns and the spaghetti was kindly provided by the Institute of Physics (IoP) http://www.iop.org/ , so many thanks to them for making this event possible.

On 7th February 48 students from Year 11, (accompanied by Mr Bilton, Miss Vine, Mr Pimentao and Miss Gilleece) travelled to Essex to visit the npower-operated Tilbury Power Station. The students study the generation of electricity as part of their course, so this was an excellent opportunity to see where it all happens. The Tilbury site was originally a coal-fired power station, but this year it switched to using biomass as the fuel source, as part of a programme to be ‘greener’ and depend on renewable sources.

Tilbury Power Station

The biomass used at Tilbury is wood pellets, produced from the sawdust and waste of the Canadian lumber industry, so it’s a good use of a material that would otherwise just be wasted. It also has less impact in terms of CO2 production than coal, because it’s not burning carbon that’s been locked away for millions of years.

Properly kitted out in hard-hats, ear defenders and high-visibility jackets the students were taken on a tour of the power station, at one point standing inside a 65m furnace which reaches temperatures of 1500ºC (luckily for the students it wasn’t on at the time…). The scale of the facility is hard to imagine, but it gives you an appreciation of engineering behind the process.

Safety first - hard-hats and ear defenders!

The process of electrical generation is actually remarkable simple. When the biomass arrives it is crushed and then blasted into the furnace where it burns. The furnace is lined with pipes that contain ultra-pure water. As this water heats up it turns to steam. This high-pressure steam is used to turn turbines (converting heat energy into kinetic energy), and the turbines rotate an electro-magnet within a coil of wire. The movement of a magnet within a coil of wire creates the electrical current (thanks Faraday!) and that’s all there is to it.

Generating electricity - what's happening inside?

The students were also able to study some of the chemistry and biology surrounding the issue of power generation. Using conductivity meters the students recorded how many dissolved ions and minerals were in drinking and filtered water. They then compared it to water that had been through an ion-exchamge resin and were surprised to see that there were no ions left at all. This super-pure water (which actually tasted a little bland) has to be used in the power station to prevent damage to the pipes (picture the inside of your kettle..). The students then had a look at the local water quality by pond-dipping and looking for indicator species; species that tell you how clean the water is by their presence or absence. Having found a variety of insects including Common Backswimmers, Damselfy nymphs and Diving Beetles (and even some fish) everyone was surprised to conclude the water so near a power station was actually good quality and supported a diverse community.

Damselfly nymph - this larval form indicates good water quality

Common Backswimmer - this insect swims upside down

The students had a really good time and certainly learned lots about where their electricity comes from and how best to manage our energy resources so that we can live in a sustainable and ecologically-sensitive way. Many thanks too to the staff at the power station for giving us such an enjoyable day!

Stargazing Evening

Posted: January 12, 2012 by Mr Bilton in Field Work, Physics, Space
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 Jupiter and Jupiter’s Moon Io by Robert Altenburg (left)

After postponing the 2012 Winter Loreto stargazing evening on Wednesday, we crossed our fingers for the weather to help us having a look at the Universe tonight.

Unfortunately the clouds appeared while the telescopes were being assembled – but they were not enough to stop us from zooming in at the night sky.

Those who joined the Science Department last night were able to see what Galileo Galilee saw when he first pointed his telescope at Jupiter, the “king” of the planets, along with its 4  moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto .

Despite the cold, the brave Loreto girls and parents also learnt how to find Polaris (the North star), Betelgeuse and the Seven sisters.

The Loreto College stargazing evening was a success, and we hope we can count on more of you to come along next time.

Thanks to all those who came.

A big THANK YOU  to Setpoint Herts, Ms Ellis, Ms Hyslopp and Miss Vine for letting us borrow their binoculars and telescopes. Without them this would not have been possible.

Dancing Fire!

Posted: January 7, 2012 by Mr Pimentao in Physics, Uncategorized
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Sound seems to have caught the eye here at Loreto’s science cyberspace presence.

Whilst “youtubing” aimlessly like a headless chicken, I came across several videos showing a Ruben tube.

This is a perforated tube connected to a supply of flammable gas on one end, and attached to a speaker on the other end. As the gas flows through the tube holes, the (standing) sound wave created inside the tube by the speaker causes areas of high and low gas pressure. If you fire the gas up, it becomes an impressive flame show. The height of the flame is taller in the areas of higher pressure, so it acts as a visual display of the sound wave that travels inside the tube.

Some people like to play a single note on the speaker and are happy with that. Others experiment with all kinds of sound : from dubstep to glam rock!

Videos:

Mythbusters playing with Rubens tube

Another one bites the dust on Rubens tube

Bad romance on Rubens tube

The Sun Project

Posted: January 4, 2012 by Mr Pimentao in Engineering, Physics, Space
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We sometimes take things for granted. Things like the food on our plate, the air we breathe, the water running from our taps. All of these would not be there if it wasn’t for our star, the Sun.
The Sun Project is an Astronomy and Engineering club.

The pupils involved have been developing solar panels to heat up water, investigating solar cells and how they can be used to build toys, or observing the surface of the Sun. Everyone is welcome to join at any time.

 

Solar storm, October 2003

Non Newtonian fluids

Posted: January 4, 2012 by Mr Pimentao in Physics
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Many people have heard of Sir Isaac Newton. He is famous for developing many scientific theories in mathematics and physics. Newton described how ‘normal’ liquids or fluids behave, and he observed that they have a constant viscosity (flow). This means that their flow behaviour or viscosity only changes with changes in temperature or pressure. For example, water freezes and turns into a solid at 0˚C and turns into a gas at 100˚C. Within this temperature range, water behaves like a ‘normal’ liquid with constant viscosity.

Typically, liquids take on the shape of the container they are poured into. We call these ‘normal liquids’ Newtonian fluids. But some fluids don’t follow this rule. We call these ‘strange liquids’ non-Newtonian fluids.

The viscosity ( how “runny” a fluid is) of a non-Newtonian fluid depends on things such as the stress, or pressure applied to them. This means that a quick change in the pressure applied to such a fluid might change its viscosity.

Cornflour solution on a speaker cone.

This is the reason that explains the formation of these cornflour “creatures” . Corn starch is a shear thickening non-Newtonian fluid meaning that it becomes more viscous when it is disturbed. The changes in pressure created by the sound vibrations change the viscosity of the fluid, and the result is fantastic. Check it out here.

Another classic example is Mr. Tickle walking on custard.

A Celebration of the Moon

Posted: January 4, 2012 by Mr Bilton in Gallery, Physics, Space
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The US Space Agency NASA has succeeded in placing a set of twin satellites in orbit around the moon. The satellites, called the Grail Twins, are set to map gravity variations across the surface of our nearest neighbour.

This will allow scientists to understand the formation of the moon in more detail, and even to test recent suggestions that Earth may once have had two moons.

So, to celebrate this here are some pictures showing different aspects of a very familiar face.

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