Expectation & Excellence
established 1546

Colyton Grammar School
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths


November 2016 saw Geography students from across all year groups in the school take part in The Great Geography Map Off.

Each November, as part of GIS day (Geographical Information systems) students from across the globe collaborate on the largest shared online map event for schools. This year’s theme was 'Climate Change', and involved students completing a survey about their own views on climate change. They entered their data in the online map and then were able to use GIS tools to examine the data patterns.

British Science Week: Year 9 “Space Experience”

At the end of last term, as part of British Science week, Year 9 students had a fun packed Space themed afternoon. Before lunch there was a session in the labs where we participated in some hands on activities including; making our own spectroscopes, setting fire to tea bags to make rockets and learning how telescopes worked.

After lunch we experienced a captivating lecture about the curiosities of space delivered by Dr Alice Mills, who is the University of Exeter’s outreach officer for the Ogden Trust. It was an educational and fun hour giving us an insight into the life of an astrophysicist, with interactive elements and three dimensional views of what’s “out there” in the Universe. We saw an animation that showed us the millions and millions of galaxies that we would see if we looked out of a window of a rocket on an intergalactic mission. We were also given an insight into what it takes to get a PHD in a subject you’re passionate about and how much work has go into it. The demonstrations both shocked and amazed us. By the end of the talk the whole of Year 9 had some great questions and amazing facts buzzing in our brains. Are we alone? Why is the universe expanding? All in all it was an amazing educational experience. Dr Mills’ role is to engage more young people with Physics and Science, and she did a brilliant job with her truly inspirational presentation. Even though some of the things she talked about were of a higher level than we were used to, she explained them in a clear way that we could understand. We all left the room with heads full of new information.

The whole afternoon enhanced our knowledge about the universe and has given us a new view of Physics. Our favourite part of the day? Setting fire to teabags, and watching them fly up in the air, of course!

By Annabellle, Morgan, Elsa (Year 9)

Daresbury Laboratory Open Day

On Saturday 9 July 2016, I went to Daresbury Laboratory to learn what science is doing currently in the world and what opportunities may be open to our generation in the future. The open day covered a lot of subjects and activities, from battle bots and Teslas to CERN (Large Hadron Collider) and astrophysics. The scientists there seemed very happy to show off their wares and took care to make sure we understood it.

They had many types of equipment at Daresbury, such as an electron collider and virtual reality headsets, a supercomputer and x-ray machines, to make our experience as exciting as possible.
I found the day to be thoroughly educational, but fun at the same time. What I found the most amazing was the role that astrology had played in the past and how science is affecting the future. Did you know that the modern telephone was developed from a prototype that allowed astronauts to contact the earth from in space?

What I liked was the way the staff were eager when they told us about what they were doing. It was obvious from when we walked in, that everyone there enjoyed their job immensely, and that they found lots of uses for the experiments. For instance, they used some of their robotic circuits to build an animatronic T-Rex! I found the way they shot space debris with lasers very clever. They demonstrated this to us by letting us shoot balloons with lasers. I was also astounded by the complexity of the equipment.

The Vacuum research laboratory

One major difference that I found from other laboratories was that they wanted to do the best they could, but not to make a profit out of it. They had invested in a whole tower to try and help cure medical problems!

What I liked learning about most was physics, the study of what is going on in the world and how the scientists are using that to help people. The scientists told us about particle accelerators, virtual reality, chemical reactions and 3D printing. I found the particle accelerators amazing because of the way they had the carefully controlled environments and how they measured what happened when some particles only lived for 0.00000000001 of a second.

I found the innovation centre fascinating as well, as it showed all the inventions that they had helped to make. We also saw a session of ‘Daresbury Den’, where people put forward their ideas for researching and developing current inventions / inventing their own. One idea that Daresbury Den had helped make was a liquid that you put in a supercomputer to absorb heat and let scientists use the heat afterwards.

In one building, the men in brown coats had 4 time capsules, one of general scientific interests from 1962 - 2009, one of x-rays and other types of rays from 1962 – 2009 (see below), and two more, one on rays that they will be collecting for a few more years, and one on general scientific interests again, which they are still collecting for. The two which were sealed in 2009 will be opened in 2062! Like these time capsules, the visit has inspired me to look forward to the future and now I want to work harder to get into a scientific institute just like Daresbury.

Report written by Harry L in 7 Cedar

Geography and Ocean Science

Last term during one of their Geography lessons, 8 Oak were lucky enough to get involved  in Catlin Arctic Live! where they took part in an interactive Geography lesson, linking up via Skype to the UK arctic research station in Svalbard. During the session they found out about the work of the polar scientists and got involved in a question and answer session. Students had the opportunity to speak live to a member of an Arctic expedition based at the NERC base at Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard, at 79°N, the most northerly permanent settlement in the world.

Students had the chance to discover the importance of this unique ecosystem from their classroom.


Colyton Grammar School to grow seeds from space!

Students at Colyton Grammar School are preparing to become space biologists and embark on a voyage of discovery by growing seeds that have been into space.

In September 2015, 2kg of rocket seeds were flown to the International Space Station (ISS) on Soyuz 44S, where they will spend several months in microgravity before returning to Earth in March 2016. The seeds have been sent as part of Rocket Science, an educational project launched by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency.

Colyton Grammar School will be one of up to 10,000 schools to receive a packet of 100 seeds from space, which they will grow alongside seeds that haven’t been to space and measure the differences over seven weeks. The students won’t know which seed packet contains which seeds until all results have been collected by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and analysed by professional biostatisticians.

The out-of-this-world, nationwide science experiment will enable the students to think more about how we could preserve human life on another planet in the future, what astronauts need to survive long-term missions in space and the difficulties surrounding growing fresh food in challenging climates.

Mr Lynch, STEM Co-ordinator at Colyton Grammar School, says: “We are very excited to be taking part in Rocket Science. This experiment is a fantastic way of teaching our students to think more scientifically and share their findings with the whole school community. It is also an excellent opportunity for students across the age range to collaborate on an inspiring project which could be the motivation for them to pursue a STEM career.”

Rocket Science is just one educational project from a programme developed by the UK Space Agency to celebrate British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia Mission to the ISS and inspire young people to look into careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, including horticulture.

Applications to take part in Rocket Science are still open and will close in March next year or until all packs have been allocated. Schools and educational groups can apply at

Follow the project on Twitter: @RHSSchools #RocketScience

Girls into Physics Day at Exeter University

On Wed 16 December 2015, the University of Exeter, in collaboration with the Ogden Trust, ran a ‘Girls Into Physics’ day for girls in Year 12. Coordinated by Dr Alice Mills, it was aimed, as the name suggests, at tackling the huge discrepancy between numbers of girls and boys carrying on with a STEM subject, especially Physics, into their A Levels. Unfortunately it clashed with a History trip and the Carol Service readers’ rehearsal, but nevertheless three Year 12 girls attended; Sarah U, Megan S, and Rosie L.

The first part of the day focused on understanding the many different routes girls and women can take to get into studying Physics – or back into - as explained by Dr Sharon Strawbridge, who already had a large family when she came to university as a mature student. It also helped identify some of the reasons only 20% of Physics students at university are female, and Emily Nicholls, who currently works as a consultant for the Met Office, explained some of the options available for girls who only realise they want to do Physics after having chosen their A Levels. In addition, there was a question and answer section of the morning which allowed the students attending to understand what it really meant to be a woman working in Physics, including how to deal with the gender imbalance and how things are changing.

The afternoon was dedicated to experimenting with Physics, including the infra-red camera pictured below and the fun you can have with some liquid nitrogen. A training session for ‘science busking’ was conducted by Dr Alison Rivett, the area’s representative for the Ogden Trust, and Miranda Addey, the South West Officer for the Institute of Physics. They were aiming to help improve the students’ confidence in presenting, and the accessibility of Physics to everyone, not just girls, at science festivals around the region. Lots of leaflets were given out with great ideas for activities that could be run, and it will be exciting to see some of them put into action when Colyton's Science Outreach performs its 'hands on' science sessions at Sidmouth Science Festival and the Norman Lockyer Family Day in the future.

By Rosie, Megan and Sarah (Year 12)

Physics Talk (with a difference!): A Journey into the Heart of Matter

On the 19 January 2016, all Year 11-13 Physics students and violinists across the school were invited to attend a lecture on Einstein’s Universe. The talk was by Professor Brian Foster and world renowned British violinist, Jack Liebeck. The talk covered the work of Einstein and the research at the Large Hadron Collider, with an added twist that the Physics was supplemented by Jack playing some of Einstein’s favourite music on his violin.

The lecture began with an introduction to Einstein, and a brief history of his early life. Professor Foster then illustrated how Einstein came to suggest his famous theory of special relativity, beginning with just simple thought experiments. After a summary of Albert Einstein’s theories the lecture moved on to a taster of particle physics and how particle research is conducted at the Large Hadron Collider. I found it amazing to learn that particles pass around the 27km collider 11,000 times a second!

Jack Liebeck’s violin performances were a spectacle in themselves, and really gave the lecture a different angle. I think that the combination of physics and music, done in this way, really enhanced the story of Einstein’s life and the inner workings of the Large Hadron Collider. For me, I gained an increased appreciation of some of the amazing physics that goes into modelling the universe, and how well Einstein’s theories have stood the test of time.

Each part of the lecture was separated by interludes of violin music, with Jack Liebeck playing pieces written by Bach, Mozart and Kreisler. Jake L, a Year 11 student said, “I found it really interesting, especially the part about the standard model of the universe”. 
Overall I think the lecture was a brilliant and vibrant experience that appealed to all the Sixth Form years, as well as providing everyone who attended the chance to hear an amazingly talented international violinist.

By Alex (Year 11)

Year 11 Engineering Education Scheme challenge residential workshop

Recently we have had the opportunity to collaborate with businesses on real-life engineering projects, through the Engineering Education Scheme (EES).

We have been collaborating with AMSAFE Bridport on a project with their Tarian ™ nets. These are nets used to protect the sides of armored vehicles against RPGs, or rocket propelled grenades.

Currently, the main obstacle in the production of the nets is the drying time of the anti-UV coating on the nets (8 hours). Therefore we have been instructed to find ways to decrease the drying time of the nets.

At Plymouth, we focused on the production of scale models and acquiring of experimental data on drying time. Whilst half the team focused on the construction of a model to demonstrate the UV coating method they had designed, the other half tested the nets in an environmental test chamber in the civil engineering department of Plymouth University.

Using this equipment, we found that changes in temperature in practise had little effect on evaporation from the nets. This means that we will have to focus on increasing airflow over the nets. Overall, the Plymouth trip was really useful to us. We have progressed towards our target, and look forwards to completing our challenge in time for the celebrations in March.

By Charlie K (Year 11)

Sixth Form Students Attend Institute of Physics' Festival of Physics

On Saturday 21 November 2015, several Sixth Form students attended the IOP Festival of Physics held at the University of Exeter. The day comprised of various talks, as well as hands-on activities and stalls set up by both Exeter researchers and the IOP. This year the IOP is celebrating the International Year of Light, by raising awareness of the uses of light and how it will help us for both practical and research methods.

The talks covered bio-photonics and the ability to both diagnose and cure various cancers using light; Astrophysics and how exoplanets can be discovered and 3D images of them created; and lastly the numerical methods of analysing the weather and climate.

We also attended a workshop on light, run by Dr Alice Mills, the Ogden Science officer at Exeter University. The workshop included many practical activities, all centred on the different types of electromagnetic radiation, from radio waves to X rays. We were involved in activities ranging from light scattering in aerogel and measuring the speed of light using a microwave and some buttered bread!

To finish the day, the IOP held its ‘3 minute wonder' competition, where PhD students had to pitch their research in three minutes, in a bid to win money and proceed to later rounds. The topics ranged from how to stop vibrations in upper storey levels of buildings, to detecting aliens.

One Colyton student who attended the day said "It was a really good opportunity to broaden our knowledge of physics, all the talks were interesting and it was good to see physics research at work."

By Damon (Year 12)

Ash cloud Apocalypse
A hazard risk mapping activity for Geographers

Geographers Go Global: Ash-cloud Apocalypse 2015

At the end of November, Colyton Geography students from throughout Key Stages 3, 4 and the Sixth Form took part in a ‘global lesson’, joining over twenty thousand students across the world in examining the potential impacts of a supervolcano eruption.

Students used a range of criteria, including population density, level of wealth and local microclimates, to assess the potential impact of a mega volcano erupting on where they live – for example, Campi Flegrei Volcano in Italy, around 2,000 miles away from the South West.

Information from students across the globe was collated and displayed on a single world map, with students given the tools and opportunities to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the various measurements taken, and consider what conclusions might be drawn from the assessments.

The event, run as part of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Week, starting on the 16 November, was powered by UK-based ‘esri UK’, with the results being published online and available for viewing to the public at

By student reporter, Todd O


South West Institute of Physics lecture ‘Beautiful Brains and Amazing Lasers’

On 28 September 2015, a small group of Year 10 students, accompanied by physics teacher Dr Usher, visited Exeter School, along with other students from the local area, to listen to the South West Institute of Physics lecture ‘Beautiful Brains and Amazing Lasers’ by Dr Natalie Garrett.

During the lecture, Dr Garrett discussed the topic of biophotonics, a research field combining both biology and physics (particularly the study of light) to image and study biological material such as cells and tissues. The talk was really interesting, as we saw how lasers could affect the eyes and brain. Dr Garrett was very interactive and showed us a demonstration of how a strong laser can pop a black balloon but not a white one, (this happens because more of the light is absorbed by black objects than white, by the way). She also explained how lasers could be used to scan brains for brain tumours. We saw how glow sticks were made to glow and how some strong lasers can be extremely dangerous. She showed us how coloured chemicals that glow in ultra-violet light could be used to colour all the nerve cells leading up to the brain, creating a ‘Rainbow Brain’. Dr Garrett went on to describe how the use of lasers and ‘coherent Ramen scattering’ chemistry can help deliver medicines to the brain, in order to treat cancerous growths and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Garrett also discussed her experiences while working in the field of biophotonics and spoke about the range of opportunities that qualifications in physics and the other science subjects can lead to.

All the year 10 students who attended found the talk engaging, as it showed how physics can be applied to the field of medicine. The talk also showed us that there are a lot more uses for lasers than most people think.

By Matilda, Jemima and Ece (Year 10)

Girls’ into Engineering - Robotics Competition

A team of five Sixth Form girls recently rose to the challenge of creating a video entry for the national 'Girls Into STEM' (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) competition, run by the Women’s Engineering Society, to explain 'What is Engineering?'.

The idea of the competition is to promote engineering as a career for girls.

The team came up with a variety of ideas, including ways in which engineering enhances people’s lives.

The girls: Kendall F, Rachel I, Zoe H, Emily G and Tallie B, faced some tough opposition from across the country, but were one of only twenty teams to be awarded a £1,000 grant to build a VEX EDR robot.

Once they have built the robot and explored the programming capabilities, they will enter the regional finals.

Rachel said: “The whole team pulled together fantastically to get the grant; we now have a huge but exciting challenge ahead of us”.

STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.

By student reporter Tallie B

‘Lesser-Spotted Sciences Day' at Oxford

Three Year 11 students have attended the ‘Lesser-Spotted Sciences Day’ at the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science.

Alex A, Jake L and Max W were able to attend some sample lectures, hear from the University Careers Service and get the opportunity to visit an Oxford college.

Alex said that the tour of the college was “a fascinating way to get an idea of university life.” The accompanying talk gave him an insight into what it would be like to be a student. He added that overall the day was “a great introduction to some of the less well-known sciences.”

The day aims to inform school students about subjects such as Earth Sciences, Engineering, Statistics, Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences.

By Ellen W, Student Reporter