8th December 2006 at 00:00
Ages 10 to 11

Observe an apple decaying, as part of the QCA's micro-organisms unit, using a laptop, webcam and a lamp (left on overnight) to record progress over a three-week period.

The free webcam software allows the camera to capture a frame at your chosen rate, for example, every 20 minutes.

You need to make sure the laptop has the powersaver and screensaver turned off and is plugged into the mains. After three weeks we had a "time-lapse"

film that amazed the schoolchildren and prompted wonderful discussions.

We did the same thing previously with a digital photo taken daily and then dropped into Movie Maker, but it relied on remembering to take the photo, taking it from the same angle, not touching the apple (which was in a ziplock bag) and so on. We also linked an investigation using bread wiped in various places to the How clean is your house? TV show and came up with some great results. Who would have thought the staff toilets were that bad

Matt Shephard teaches at the Taipei British School in Taiwan

* Now it's your turn

Share your brilliant teaching idea with your colleagues on this page - and we'll pay you pound;50. Just send 150 words (plus details of a useful book or website), including your lesson's subject, target age group and your own name and school to

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today