Dunbar Science Club: Light

On Saturday 10th January, young scientists at the Dunbar Science Club learned about lenses and light. Physics graduates undertaking a PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education) at the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education ran sessions for children aged between 4 and 12.

The sessions began with an introduction to lenses and the question “Did you know that you carry around your own personal magnifying glass?” After looking at lenses and magnifying glasses, the children were guided through their own dissection of a real eye to find the lens inside. The Moray House teachers started the cut with a scalpel to allow the children to complete the opening of the eye using scissors. A gentle squeeze, and the aqueous humour popped out, bringing the lens out with it. Children proved that this is a real lens by reading printed material through it!

Time was very tight in the workshops but some of the children had the opportunity to make a pinhole camera using an empty Pringles tub. Lenses are used in lots of things including cameras but not all cameras need a lens. Early cameras work using just a pinhole: making a pinhole in the bottom of the tub allows light to enter which can be displayed on a screen made from greaseproof paper held onto the top of the tub by an elastic band. Children got to take their camera home.

 

Finally, the groups had the chance to look at the power of light and the importance of colour. Our young scientists were able to explain that darker colours absorb energy more than light colours. Using this knowledge, they could say that if a laser was unable to pop a yellow balloon, then we should draw a black patch on the balloon. Shining a laser on the patch should pop the balloon because of the extra energy absorbed. Using a special powerful laser (used by astronomers to show constellations in the night sky), this was tested and proved with a bang!

Acknowledgements

Great fun was had by all. Credit is due to the Dunbar Science Club – the volunteers who run this and the Dunbar SciFest do an amazing job bringing great science to the young people of the town. Special thanks to Moray House technical staff and the PGDE teachers who planned, resourced and delivered this session and a big thank you to the Edinburgh businesses that helped us out with some of the equipment we needed: the Dominion Cinema who provided the Pringles tubs; George Bowers Butcher in Stockbridge who gave us pig’s eyes; and Welch Fishmongers, Newhaven who gave us haddock eyes. This couldn’t have happened without your support.

The Teachmeet that never wasn’t

TMLogoILWLast week was the University of Edinburgh’s Innovative Learning Week (ILW). As part of  my contribution to the range of activities and events that make up this amazing opportunity for staff, learners and the wider community, I thought I’d run a Teachmeet. I was delighted when very quickly, I got some big names signed up to share a bit of good practice and ideas to inform and enthuse: Colin Webster of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (@co1inwebster); John Connell, the EdTech guru, creator of “I am Learner” and innovator behind the CommonLearn concept; and Ian Stuart, formerly @IslayIan, now on secondment to the Scottish Executive and an authority on 1-to-1.

rp

It was with some regret that I had to cancel the event, like many others, due to (I think) the large number of events and the impact on registrations. I decided that 20 wasn’t enough for a viable teachmeet in the context of the University, so called it off. By way of compensation, I switched the venue and the context to a pub in Leith, the Teuchters Landing.

SD

I don’t propose to detail the entire event: what is worth recording here is that it was a brilliant night, with some amazing stories, tech demonstrations, masterclasses, debate over current policy and the curriculum, great ideas and something very characteristic of almost every teachmeet I’ve ever been to – the “buzz” of having shared some truly refreshing perspectives. Some of the ideas I picked up included were Microsoft’s Physics Illustrator (which evidently has been around for years); information about the new BBC Bitesize for National 5 Physics and others; and the SQA’s unconference site on what education will look like in 2020 at http://education2020.wikispaces.com which outlines what Education 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 look like – “a bit of brick and a bit of click”.

SS

I’ll leave you with a little quote from Sharon Somerville, a Canadian teacher just back from teaching in the Falkland Islands. This struck a chord with me:

People don’t have problems, they have needs. Meet a need to enable them.