Gum investigation

10th March 2006 at 00:00
Kings Langley School is a mixed comprehensive with just under 1,000 pupils. Last year, a summer school programme was run for approximately 20 gifted and talented pupils from the new Year 7 intake and those moving into Year 8. The programme focused on the environment and encompassed a number of core subjects, including science. A two-day scientific investigation was undertaken, looking at keeping the world clean. Pupils were asked to investigate the environmental impact of chewing gum and the most effective ways of removing it. They were supported and advised by three teachers.

The first day was spent researching, discussing and planning the investigation. Pupils used the internet and resources in the school and local libraries, and spoke to local environment agencies. They carried out the investigation in a similar manner to the standard science investigations at key stage 4. During the planning process, they focused on fair testing, looking at variables and making predictions based on scientific evidence. Variables investigated included solvents and their dissolving abilities, types of gum, size and shape of scrapers and the nature of the surfaces to which the gum was adhered. Pupils removed gum on the school premises using a variety of techniques.

On the second day, they analysed their results and presented their conclusions on posters and PowerPoint presentations. Pupils were encouraged to use high-level words such as polymer, solubility and adhesion. The aim of the project was to encourage teamwork, research a scientific topic, develop presentation and communication skills, prepare for high-level work and help integrate the new Year 7s. The event was extremely rewarding for teachers and pupils, who earned a Crest Bronze Award.

Ansar Iqbal Acting head of science, Kings Langley School, Hertfordshire

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