First encounters

13th July 2001 at 01:00
Kristina Humphries tries to make science fun

When I first mentioned the idea of a lunchtime science club, I was puzzled by the response. The head of science was keen, but the other, more experienced staff exchanged knowing looks and edged away. I wish I'd paid more attention.

The first meeting was like having a party and wondering if anyone other than me and the associate staff would come. They did, but not exactly in droves. I had promised "fun science", but I needed everyone to be quiet and listen. These concepts seemed mutually exclusive to some. So, teeth gritted (it was going to be fun if it killed me), we got going.

After the first one, my afternoon classes suffered. I hadn't realised how important it was to have time for the lunch break moan, as opposed to the after-school moan, and the hurling-invective-at-the-TV-when-they're-discussing-education moan.

Half a term wiser and feeling much older, I can report limited success with jelly tower building (we were beaten in a local contest by a special school, despite sixth-form input and innovative use of traffic cones), testing Murphy's law with toast, and, my pi ce de resistance, flubber.

I had had pleas from Year 7s not to have anything else involving burning as it got the sixth form too excited. OK, we'll make flubber. Once again, I hadn't counted on the seminal input of the sixth form. And the results of advertising in advance.

The 40 kids who arrived included some of society's known villains, I realised later. This, with the sixth form's food colouring idea, led to one Year 7 (there had to be one), making a slimy version in a delicate shade of green.

It reappeared later, attached to his nostrils. Attempted recapture of the substance led to the casting of serious aspersions on the quality of my formula for flubber when a teacher tried to put it in a bin.

Notwithstanding this affront to my professional competence, we are not going to advertise next term's topics in advance.

Just as well. We're making rockets.

Dr Kristina Humphries is a chemistry NQT at King Edward VI high school in Stafford

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