Science - Summer in focus

21st September 2012 at 01:00
Holiday snaps with a scientific twist capture the imagination

As a scientist, I often find myself trying to understand the science behind what I am observing.

Watching little bubbles of air in my baby boy's milk bottle when he stops sucking to breathe makes me wonder about the pressure difference between the air inside the bottle and out, as more volume becomes available to the air particles inside the bottle when the milk is drunk.

And as a science teacher, I try to find interesting ways to transmit this curiosity about the world around me to learners. Now, with people carrying a small computer in their pockets in the form of smartphones, it is even easier to capture these moments of scientific insight into our everyday life.

I suspected that other science teachers might be the same as me and decided to put my hypothesis to the test. I created a Pinterest board called "Science in my holiday". Through the @tesScience Twitter account, I invited followers to share holiday photos that featured some kind of science, along with a scientific description of what they had captured. We ended up with 127 fabulous photos that not only showed what scientists got up to on their holidays, but also focused on the science behind them.

The winner (pictured top) was taken by Neal Gupta and shows his daughter after she climbed into the rooftop box of his car and was electrostatically charged by friction. Second and third prizes (pictured bottom) went to Jay Hurry for his photo of the shadows cast by his body and those of his children at sunset, and Thespina Coombe for her picture of the Epidavros ancient Greek theatre.

All three winners have photographs with explanations that would make excellent points for discussion in science lessons. They could also be used as lesson starters or to develop teaching resources.

You could set up a similar challenge with your classes. Learners could post a "science" photo on their Pinterest board each day for a week, with a description of what science they think is happening. Perhaps give them a specific topic - for example, taking photos of the Moon for a month while identifying its phases. Setting this sort of challenge can help learners to become more attentive to the science in the world around them.

The photos the @tesScience followers sent are so good and the descriptions so useful that we have rewarded the top three with a #163;25 book voucher and are sending the winner a bottle of champagne.

All 127 entries and their explanations are on the Pinterest board (pinterest.comtessciencescience-in-my-holidays).

Alessio Bernardelli is a TES subject adviser.

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