Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Welcome back!

Posted: September 27, 2012 by Mr Pimentao in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

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


Over 6th July 21 AS/A2 Biology students (and Dr Paul and I) set off to Snowdonia to study ecology as part of the A2 Biology course. 

North Wales

Staying at a Field Studies Council centre in Betws-y-coed, the first evening began with setting Longworth mammal traps (non-lethal) so that we could get an estimate of the population of small mammals in the centre grounds. After dinner we had a bonfire and a game of football on a pretty muddy pitch (it had rained most of the day whilst we travelled) but it was good fun.

The following day we checked our mammal traps before breakfast. Another school had also set mammal traps but they hadn’t gone to such great lengths to conceal them and subsequently the squirrels had raided the traps and eaten all the bait. 

Wood Mouse

Our traps however were untouched, and yielded 4 wood mice and 3 bank voles.

Bank vole

After letting them go we travelled by coach to Morfa Harlech, a nature reserve with a textbook-quality sand dune system. Walking across the dunes from the sea towards the land allowed us to record the changes in plant and animals species and the local environment, highlighting the process of succession. At the end of the dune system is woodland that was once bare sand but over time has been colonised by successive plant communities.

Sand dunes at Morfa Harlech

That evening the students worked in the classroom to process their results, and then we played another game of football.

Sunday saw us travelling to Penmon Point on Anglesey to study a rocky shore.

Penmon Point, with Puffin Island in the distance

Penmon Point

 Starting at the low water mark we moved higher above sea level, recording the changes in types of seaweed and plants, limpets, barnacles and crabs.

Velvet Swimming Crab

 Rocky shores exhibit something called ‘zonation’ – the distribution of the different organisms is heavily influenced by different local environmental conditions.

On the return from Penmon Point we stopped off briefly at Cwm Idwal, a spectacular corrie (bowl-shaped glacial valley) formed by over 2 million years of glaciation.

Cwm Idwal

The glacier is long since gone, although it has left a crystal-clear lake in its place. Cwm Idwal is special for many reasons, but particularly since it is home to the incredibly rare Welsh Tufted Saxifrage, an alpine plant that is a leftover from the time when Britain was much colder just after the last ice age.

Tufted Saxifrage – a survivor from the last Ice Age.

 The plant clings on to life on the cold backwall of the valley where few other plants can survive.

That evening didn’t see any football – instead the students dressed up as pirates and took part in a treasure hunt and then a piratey sing-song around a roaring fire!

Monday was our last day, but the morning was spent collecting invertebrates from a fast-flowing freshwater stream and then looking for a correlation between the different species and the velocity of the water.

A cased caddisfly larvae from a freshwater stream.

After that, we travelled by train back to London – rather tired but having had a really good trip. The students were amazing – they worked so hard, got really enthusiastic about everything and were a credit to themselves. Well done!

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!)

So, we’re getting to that time of year where Easter and Summer holidays are starting to creep into our thoughts…But spare a thought (and a prayer) for all those students who will be spending their Easter break preparing for upcoming exams! So here’s a few ideas to help kick start your revision, and hopefully help lead to the grades you are capable of! 🙂

  1. Know what exams you are doing and when – if you are sitting GCSEs or A-levels, your exam timetables will be available to you via your exam board; If you are doing KS3 exams, your teachers will tell you when your exams are – make sure you ask! Once you know when you are doing your exams you should….
  2. Make a revision timetable – A3 size is best, put it somewhere you will see it, and be realistic!! If you know you’re not going to miss **insert whatever TV programme you cannot live without**, then don’t plan to do revision in that time!
  3. Timings – Decide how much time you need to revise each subject and add this to your revision timetable – if you know you’re good at science, then don’t spend as much time on it as you would a subject you struggle with. Once you know when you are supposed to be revising, and what you need to do, then get to it! 🙂 Remember the following also…….
  4. Take a break – for every half hour you study, you should take a 5 minute break. Your brain will need a rest! Try to resist the urge of turning on your laptop or TV for those 5 minutes – it will leave it harder for you to return to your revision. Take a short walk, get some fresh air instead.
  5. Brain food – Increase your mental agility and help improve your memory by choosing the right foods such as oily fish, wholegrain etc. (or if you are like Miss Gilleece who hates fish, you can buy supplements instead of the fish…)

There are so many books, teachers and websites that can help you with your revision, but you do need to know where to look.

Normally your teachers should be your first port of call – remember they know what they’ve been teaching you, and what exam boards are looking for in your answers, so always ask if you’re unsure!

If you opt for buying a revision guide, please make sure you check it is suitable for your level of exam and exam board! Any good book shop should sell a range of revision guides, don’t be afraid to open it up and see if it looks like a good one! (Just don’t try reading it from start to finish without paying for it!!)

Some websites you might find useful: for KS3 and GCSE for GCSE and A- level for GCSE for KS3 and GCSE a search engine dedicated to finding revision resources

Dancing Fire!

Posted: January 7, 2012 by Mr Pimentao in Physics, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

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!


Mythbusters playing with Rubens tube

Another one bites the dust on Rubens tube

Bad romance on Rubens tube

Hello and welcome,

This is the official blog for the Science Department at Loreto College, St Albans.

Once it gets going properly, we hope to have lots of activity here – reports on projects and activities done in lessons, photographs and accounts of trips and extra-curricular events, articles about exam technique and revision, and news and explanations of topical science.

Hope you enjoy your visit!

Mr Bilton