Expectation & Excellence
established 1546

Colyton Grammar School
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths



Family Friendly Science at the Garden and Food Festival

Amongst a diverse line-up of stalls at this year’s annual Garden and Food Festival, held on Saturday 7 May 2016, a group of willing sixth form students helped to run a hands-on science stand alongside Physics teacher, Mr Lynch. Similarly to other science outreach work, this event offered the enthusiastic A-Level students an opportunity to develop valuable leadership skills whilst also being able to share their passion for science with the wider community.

The activities proved very popular with members of the public, whatever their age and ability – for the children especially, allowing them to get involved really helped them to learn whilst having fun! The team tested and put together a wide range of activities including optical illusions, thought-controlled fish and homemade lava lamps, all of which demonstrate the science we are surrounded by in everyday life. One of our 'stations' gave everyone the chance to build a rocket which would then take part in one of the two rocket launches on the day, both of which drew big audiences.

By hosting this array of fascinating practical experiments, the students and staff hope to not only have demonstrated the school’s thriving science department, but also to have inspired young people and their families to notice the science around them every day.

By Ellen A (Year 11)

Honiton 'Festival of Imagination' Science Festival

What do graphene, skewering balloons, Lego and paint have in common? The answer: ‘structures’, the theme of this year’s Honiton Science Festival, which took place on Saturday 23 April 2016, at Honiton’s Beehive Centre. This was only the second year that the festival had run and it was the first time that the Colyton Science Outreach team had participated. Several Year 11 and 12 Colyton students assisted in the smooth running of a range of activities run by a number of organisations, not just the one run on the school’s stand. Under the expansive topic of structures, visitors learned about a variety of aspects such as DNA structure, how to build a wooden bridge that could support their weight with nothing but a collection of planks, robots, and smart buildings of the future. Helping others to learn all about the science of structures was an opportunity enjoyed greatly by the students, as one Year 12 student Rosie L said: “Engaging children (and the adults they’d brought along) in physics and science was an exciting and very rewarding experience, and one I’m sure we’d all like to repeat.”

From a personal viewpoint, preparing for the festival took time but was definitely worth the effort. My stand focused on how conductive paint could be used in houses of the future. I made various demonstrations, including a midi keyboard activated by the paint, as well as a capacitive distance sensor. The demos generated a lot of interest and discussion. The visitors’ delight and questions about how the science could be applied certainly justified all the time that I had spent putting the projects together.

The festival was not just limited to hands-on science demonstrations; it explored structure from a range different perspectives including: music (an orchestra played several pieces including one composed by Colyton student, Liam H); art and dance.

The organisers of the festival were very grateful for the input from the Colyton Science Outreach team. The second year of the festival was a great success with over 200 visitors attending. Dr Usher commenting “Yet again our sixth formers have shown what fantastic science communicators they are. I am very grateful for them giving up part of their Saturday to help out at this event”.

By Tom O (Year 12)

Science Outreach NLO "Family Day"

On Saturday 19 March 2016, the Norman Lockyer Observatory in Sidmouth opened to the public for its annual family fun day; an event jam-packed with hands-on science activities, telescope tours, astronomy talks and so much more. There to represent Colyton’s Science Outreach programme, were a group of year 11, 12 and 13 students, who were running 'hands-on' science activities.

All of the activities that we put on offer were trialled by both the students and the Physics department many weeks in advance, to ensure that they were ready to present to the public. By going there to help we aim not only to represent Colyton, but also to inspire the young people and families who visit. Every year the event is extremely successful, raising money for the observatory and there are always a high numbers of visitors to the activities that the Colyton Science Outreach team run.

Activities that the Outreach team presented ranged from 'thought control' fish to ‘massive marshmallows’; and possibly the most popular activity with the children every year, a chance to build your own rocket. Once the strategically designed and built rockets were constructed, there was a chance to launch them into the air at one of the three launch sessions during the day, with a prize for the rocket that stayed in the air the longest.

There were lots of sixth form volunteers, from Year 13s who had been helping with Science Outreach since Year 11, to Year 11 “first timers”.

“The sixth form volunteers were a credit to the school” – Mr Lynch, Physics teacher. " I think it’s safe to say that everyone who helped out enjoyed the day".

Year 11 James O said that: “the smiles on their faces when showing the experiments was fantastic”.

Year 11 Chloe L found: “it was really fun to inspire people”.

Hannah B 11S

Science Outreach at the Sidmouth Science Festival, October 2015

The Sidmouth Science Festival has been running since 2012, and encourages the wider participation and enjoyment of science. The event brings together all ages and is supported by numerous organisations including businesses, churches and schools.

Just as in previous years, Colyton had a strong presence at the festival – a team of sixth form helpers, like Despicable Me 'minions' led by Dr Usher (Gru?), demonstrated a wide range of experiments to the general public. The theme of this year’s festival was ‘Science in our Lives’ and our demonstrations included a corn starch monster, disappearing marbles, o-wing flyers and of course many more. Each of our demonstrations may have at first seemed a little obscure, but they all highlighted how science impacts on our everyday lives. Most of the activities involved experimental 'apparatus' that could be found in the home and some activities were 'make-and-take', so people could later share what they had learned with others at home and school.

As students it’s always great fun to get involved with the festival. In the lead up we prepare the demonstrations during a series of lunchtimes and a range of pretty ambitious ideas are always explored. For some reason explosions and firearms are always mentioned, but for obvious reasons they never get very far despite our best efforts! The more sensible ideas are whittled down to a shortlist and these are then trialled in a training session held in school for all those students who are helping on the day. This not only makes the helpers aware of what activities will run on the day, but also helps them devise a way to present them to the public.

On the day, clear communication is a key skill that I think all of us who helped out developed. It’s often easy to think we know how something works or what is going on, but the acid test (please pardon the science pun) is whether we can explain this clearly to a range of audiences. The science festival placed all of us in a position where we had to explain concepts to a wide range of people, with varying ages and scientific abilities. Although this could be a bit nerve-wracking at first, practice was key and everyone's confidence improved

As always, a massive thank you to Dr Usher for coordinating Colyton’s part in the event and giving us the opportunity to take part. Also to Mrs Hawkes for doing such a fantastic job in helping us get hold of all the weird bits and bobs we needed for the demonstrations and pulling all the resources together for the day itself! 

By Matt (Year 13)

Science Outreach for the Beacon Federation of Primary Schools

On Thursday 30 April 2015, Dr Usher and three year 13 helpers (Ellen, Doug and Hebe) left for Colyton Primary School armed with a laser pen, optical illusions, UV colour changing beads and a variety of other 'kit', in the hope of convincing 70 local primary school children about the amazing properties of colours and light with the 'Crazy Colour' Science Outreach session.

Both teachers and pupils from Seaton, Colyton, Kilmington and Shute primary schools were amazed by some of the optical illusions that the outreach team demonstrated. However, by understanding how white light can be made from just blue, green and red, and how the rods and cones in the eye enable us to see, they were able to understand how a green elephant can appear to turn pink when it disappears!

The 'hands-on' activities were the highlight of my morning, with the students learning that felt tip pens often contain more than just one colour. Using the technique of chromatography they were able use water to separate out the colours in felt pens to create some funky patterns. Also, the students made a colour-mixing wheel out of a CD spinner, which led to much debate about what would happen if different colours and designs were used. They were also thrilled to be able to take home a bracelet that they made with special beads that changed colour when exposed to the ultra violet light in sunlight.

Due to the enthusiasm of Dr Usher (and some savvy tech and demonstration skills by the sixth form helpers), the day was a great success. A big thank you to Dr Usher and Mrs Hawkes for all of their hard work that meant the day could go ahead.

By Ellen (Year 13)