On Thursday 13th May, Mr Thompson took 4 of the 3rd form to Bradfield College to participate in a school science competition. The following report of the day was written by G Cusworth.
When we got there we were taken inside and they gave us name tags. Around 10 other schools took part. Then everyone split up into 2 groups. We were upstairs first doing chemistry and biology. Thomas and I did the chemistry while Nicko and Stan did the biology. The chemistry was really fun. There were 5 bottles labelled: barium chloride, water, sodium hydroxide, indicator (it had such a long name that they couldn’t fit it on the bottle) and last (my favourite) sulphuric acid. The rest were labelled with letters from A-E. What we had to do was figure out what bottles A-E were. First we mixed the contents of the bottles that were labelled with chemical names in vials and put the records of what happened on a results chart. Some mixtures didn’t react at all while one turned bright purple, one turned pure white, one turned misty blue and some coagulated (thickened) unfortunately none of the mixtures exploded! After that we filled up 5 vials with the contents of the bottle labelled A, then we mixed those with the contents of all the bottles that were labelled with chemical names. After that we filled in the row labelled A of the second results chart. Then we did that with the bottles labelled B-E. Finally we looked at both results charts and saw which rows and columns were the same, then we could figure out what the bottles labelled A-E were.
After we had done that we went to help Nicko and Stan on the biology. They were doing a report on live maggots. There was also 2 microscopes with samples of insect mouths, we had to guess what food that the insect ate and figure out how that the jaw was suited to eating these things.
Then we went back downstairs and had a caramel biscuit and a cup of orange juice. After that we went into another lab and were told in broad terms how to create a loudspeaker with paper, copper wire, sellotape, a small piece of paper with a grip, a cylindrical piece of material and some blue card. We were also told that as well as doing that there were mini assessments that we had to do. Stan and I did the assessments while Nicko and Thomas made the loudspeaker. Making the loudspeaker is easier than it sounds. All that was required was to wrap the card around the cylinder then tape the 2 ends of the card together when you had done that you took the cylinder out of the card. Then you made a cone shape with the piece of paper and stuck one end of the card to it. After that you wrap the wire around the card (however tight, loose, spread out or close together as you want) and use the grip paper to take off the varnish off the wire on its end so that bare copper was showing. Then Thomas and Nicko went up to the front desk and the teacher placed the ends of the wire where the copper was showing onto a giant magnet, this was connected to the teacher’s iPhone, the magnet made the paper vibrate creating a sound.
After that we went back downstairs and went outside to a lawn in the middle of the lawn there was 2 big plastic bins, a white container that was smoking and a syrup tin. There were 2 ropes around these, one which was quite close and another which was further away. First the teacher told us how nitrogen worked. It is a gas but can be turned into a liquid at -200 degrees centigrade, in the white container there was some in its liquid form, that’s why it was smoking, the nitrogen was evaporating. Then the teacher poured some onto the ground and it immediately evaporated because to us the ground is reasonably cold but to nitrogen it is boiling! He told us that we could come to the closer rope and then he poured some into the syrup tin and it was the sort of tin that the lid was on very tight so that usually you had to get something to prise it open. After that he put the lid back on the syrup tin and came back to the rope to watch. For a few moments nothing happened as the nitrogen evaporated but then there was a loud pop as the syrup lid shot out of its container and a jet of steam followed. This happened because when the nitrogen evaporated it took up more room in the tin, too much room, the nitrogen couldn’t find a way to escape so it put a lot of pressure on the tin. Finally the tin couldn’t withstand the pressure anymore and the top flew off. After that the teacher showed us a bottle that usually hold fizzy drinks and things and can withstand extreme pressure. He also showed us the lid that was screw on so that the nitrogen could not pop it off! Then he put some nitrogen in the bottle and put the bottle in a bin that was full of water (the bottle had an iron weight on the end to make it sink to the bottom of the bin). After about a minute there was a huge bang and the bin was torn in half as the nitrogen flew out. Then the teacher went back to the bin and picked up the fizzy drinks bottle, now usually the bottle could withstand large pressures but as the nitrogen had evaporated the pressure was too much and the bottle had been torn apart. Then we went inside and were given sandwiches and cake and were told that Ludgrove had won the overall competition by only 2 points, and that we had come second. Then we went home. We had had a great time!