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Young scientists in the making

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Year 6 enjoyed a whistle-stop, action-packed investigative time at Ampleforth College’s Science Day.

First stop of the day was the Biology lab and a spot of forensic science employing electrophoresis to compare DNA left at a crime scene with that of two suspects. It was really exciting to watch as the individual DNA profiles revealed themselves in a coloured pattern after a 200v electrical current had passed through the gel containing the samples. More A-level than Common Entrance, this was science to challenge and inspire our Year 6 pupils. 

Having discovered that, apart from identical twins, each of us has a unique DNA fingerprint in our cells, it was awesome to discover that each cell has two metres of DNA coiled within it, and that, despite our individual differences, we all share 99.9% of the same DNA – we even share 60% of the same DNA as bananas!

Next the Physics lab where some wizardry involving the refractive qualities of light meant that a beaker of water was suddenly revealed to actually be holding hydrogel beads, and a penny at the bottom of a jar magically came into view with the addition of water. The demonstration of how a beam of light, shone onto solar panels, could turn on a radio was awesome.

The Chemistry lab was the last stop and arguably the most popular.

We were treated to some of the classic demonstrations: first, some coloured precipitates, followed by reactive metal reactions which produced lots of fire, and the ever popular ‘elephant’s toothpaste’ experiment. We also released a ‘genie’ by reacting hydrogen peroxide and manganese dioxide. Clouds of steam shot out of the bottle into the air like an erupting volcano. These, and many more experiments kept us entertained for half an hour.

All in all, this was a super day of science in which Year 6 were inspired by the magic of the subject, developed their understanding of some of the scientific processes and came away wanting to know more.


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