Dates for assembly

12th March 2004 at 00:00
March 12 - 21 National Science Week

Organised annually by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, this week aims to celebrate science and its importance to our lives.

Outline script for assembly leader

Which bird flies annually from Pole to Pole? Where on your body are your nares? Which mammal sleeps for 22 hours a day? And which bodily function is impossible in space? These are just four questions to which biology provides the answers. The answers are, respectively, the Arctic tern, in your nose (they are the nostrils), the koala bear and burping.

Not all questions in science have straightforward answers. Why does chocolate melt in hot weather? Are expensive sports drinks any better than ordinary water? Does taking flowers to people in hospital help them get better? Answers to these questions have recently been found by school students studying science. As a result, a heat-resistant chocolate bar is being developed, we now know that sports drinks are better than water for athletes and flowers are useful in hospitals.

Each year, one week is called National Science Week. This is meant to be a time to think about what science does for us and how it helps us understand the world. One of the questions scientists hope to answer this year is whether the time of the seasons is changing.

This science is called phenology. Scientists are noting exactly when buds on trees first burst, when different flowers bloom and when tadpoles first appear.

Follow-up

Ask students to note what signs of spring are already visible.

Arrange a Weakest Link-type quiz, consisting of questions devised by students and put to science department staff or other students.

Students could list questions they would like science to answer next or inventions they would like to be developed. Which of these might be possible? Which existing invention would they miss most?

Information and resources relating to National Science Week are available from the British Association at www.the-ba.netnsw or Tel: 020 7019 4937 or 4941. Links from the website will lead to pub quiz questions, this year's Spring into Science project and a list of science week events for schools, arranged county by county.

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