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Rye St Antony celebrates British Science Week
17th March 2017

Children and staff at Oxford-based day and boarding school Rye St Antony have been busy celebrating British Science Week, from 10 to 19 March, with a range of science-based activities.

During the week they were treated to a visit from Sir Isaac Newton himself, who explained to the pupils why he was viewed as Britain’s greatest genius. David Hall, a former science teacher, actor and presenter, visited the school and presented his acclaimed ‘Meet Sir Isaac Newton’ show – a fast-moving, hilarious, inspiring demonstration packed with science facts. The hugely informative one-man show was conceived, written and directed by Johnny Ball. Sir Isaac talked about his life and achievements as well as demonstrating many of his ground-breaking theories and discoveries, from the cat-flap to gravity. 

Throughout the week, children at Rye St Antony learned about different aspects of science, including forces, dissolving, growing and evaporating. Science and Food Technology staff gave pupils their favourite demonstrations during lesson times and on the evening of Monday 13 March there was a chemistry show for parents and staff from Head of Science David Williams on the subject of ‘Why Your Daughters Love Chemistry’. This included various bangs, flashes, fizzes and setting some parents on fire.  

One of the parents that attended the show commented, “It was absolutely enthralling. It was great to see what our girls are learning, and how they are consolidating their understanding of chemistry with hands on experimentation backed up by chemical equations. We were entertained with a mixture of beautiful gases and coloured flames, crystal formations, explosions and handling fire with our bare hands. It definitely had the wow factor and made me want to go back to school to study chemistry again!”

Senior pupils from the school visited The Medical Research Council Brain Network Dynamics Unit at the University of Oxford on Thursday 16 March, which was National Science Demonstration Day. At the Unit they saw medical research for themselves. The scientists put down their tools for the day and talked with the pupils about the research the Unit does and what it’s like to be a scientist. The pupils took part in a range of practical activities including using microscopes to spot different types of nerve cells and the connections they use to pass messages, and trying out magnetic stimulation of the human brain.

While some pupils were learning about the human brain, others were enthralled by a K’Nex workshop run by Science Oxford. The children became engineers and designed, built and tested working models using K’Nex. Workshop challenges included fairground rides, opening bridges, Mars Rovers and rubber band powered cars.

Further down the school, the Prep School children and year 7 pupils held their very own Science Fair. All of the pupils had been hard at work planning, conducting and then presenting their experiments. There was a vast array of wonderfully creative projects on display.

Rye St Antony’s Head of Science David Williams said, “Science is such an important part of the curriculum and is key in getting children to ask questions and test ideas. It was great to have other local schools visit us to share in the excitement of having Sir Isaac Newton here for the day. It was also wonderful to welcome parents to the school to show them some of the exciting chemistry that we do with the pupils.

“The level of the entries to the school’s Science Fair was extremely high this year, highlighting the standards expected by our staff and the support given by the parents outside of school. The projects that the pupils undertook included everything from a study of asthma to parachutes, paper aeroplanes and paramagnetic liquids. We have all really enjoyed our week, seeing all the staff, parents and children making such an effort, while giving the pupils the knowledge, skills and inspiration they need to succeed.”