National Science Week 2012 at the Marlowe Academy

Club members will be helping the pupils at the Marlowe Academy during their Science fortnight. From exploding jelly beans to creepy crawlies, ‘The Science Boffins’ will be conducting experiments during the Marlowe Academy’s STEM fortnight from 5 to 16 March. The aim is to highlight and put the fun back into Science, Technology and Mathematics both as subjects and as potential career opportunities.

Marlowe Academy.
Marlowe Academy.

Students will also be able to view the night sky in an astrodome tent and take part in maths and science-based competitions. The fortnight’s event, which will be led by two top Academy teachers Mrs Lina Saad and Miss Claire Wilcox, will involve local university staff, an amateur radio enthusiast and pupils and parents from nearby primary schools. The various creepy crawlies and big spiders will be presented to students by ‘Zoolab’, an external company specialising in such events.

Each lesson will be:
A brief introduction and lesson objectives – learn how radio waves work and how they are detected. Understand why amateur radio people enjoy their hobby so much!

  1. Radio waves – wavelengths and frequencies involved.
  2. First component inserted – the capacitor. Brief explanation of its function.
  3. The coil next. How the coil and capacitor work together to tune the desired station.
  4. Explanation of the aerial and electromagnetic induction. A coil, magnet and meter available.
  5. Explanation of AM and FM – demo using a signal generator.
  6. The diode is inserted – explanation of the diode how it changes ac to dc to extract the audio signal.
  7. Final links and transformer for the earpiece.
  8. Test it out! what can we pick up? It should look like the photo attached.

Finish with how young people can gain a qualification in amateur radio and a worksheet testing their understanding of the lesson.

The club will be participating on the following days.
8th March club members will be on hand for a master class in building a Crystal Radio where the pupils will be constructing their very own radios.

13th March Amateur Radio workshop on Morse Code, Television, PMR and the history of communication using Radio.

Crystal radio kit.
Crystal radio kit.

The choccy block crystal set kit, supplied by useful components ebay shop, was chosen for its ease of construction and the research that had gone into the design. It certainly proved very straightforward for the pupils to assemble with only a few instances where they had to be careful about the orientation of the component. Within the time constraints of an hour lesson we had an excellent success rate and the pupils were thrilled when they heard a station in the earpiece. Members of the Hilderstone Amateur Radio Club, Chris Turner G0VUT, Chrissie Turner, David Townsend G0WVA, Peter Love G0KOK and Alan Collins G7IUV and two STEM ambassadors, John Morcom and Nyasha Japondo, helped them to identify the components and ensure that they were on track.

The achievement of the pupils in constructing the radios and following the explanations was brilliant! The club was most impressed by their level of interest, ability and their good behaviour. Some expressed interest in finding out more about amateur radio and gaining their own amateur radio foundation licence and call sign.

“It was fun to do”. “It gave me an insight into radio”. “I had never been allowed to use a screwdriver before”. These were just a few of the enthusiastic responses from the pupils who took part in a special day of radio construction, organised by John Hislop G7OHO of the Hilderstone Amateur Radio Club G0HRS as part of the Marlowe Academy’s Science Technology and Mathematics fortnight. The radios were unique because they worked without any batteries non-stop, day and night. They used to be called crystal radios because they used a crystalline mineral but nowadays they use a semiconductor diode.

Dr. Ken Smith G3JIX.
Dr. Ken Smith G3JIX.

The pupils learnt from Dr. Ken Smith G3JIX about the original experiment carried out by Heinrich Hertz in which he showed that electromagnetic radio waves could travel through space. The modern development of those waves to carry pictures was demonstrated impressively by Ron Marchant G3TAJ and Alan Collins G7IUV, with a camera in a helmet, worn by a pupil, transmitting pictures back to another pupil holding the receiving aerial.

The Ramsgate Viking Model Boat Club.
The Ramsgate Viking Model Boat Club.

They were then able to speak to other amateur radio enthusiasts on a mobile transceiver assisted by Neil Brice-Fairbairn M6VDC from the Dover Radio Club.

Radio control has many applications but the most fun is had from controlling model boats. The Ramsgate Viking Model Boat Club had a variety of boats – a speed boat, a tug, a fishing boat and even a turbo duck – and Steve Cockshoot G1WWR, Fred Styles 2E1HOJ and Terry Alexander showed the pupils how the radio waves controlled the motors.

Morse Cose, John Hibbert G3YCV.
Morse Cose, John Hibbert G3YCV.

The pupils also had the opportunity to test their skill at sending and receiving Morse code with the help of John Hibbert G3YCV, Chris Turner G0VUT and Chrissie Turner.

Peter Keans, a Science Technology and Mathematics ambassador from Instro-Precision explained how electric fields are built up on the Van de Graaff generator and how it was used in the days before the Large Hadron Collider in particle physics experiments. The pupils were charged up by resting their hand on the dome causing their hair to rise and stand up, much to everyone’s amusement.

‘Altogether the pupils were fascinated by the displays and thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and explanations.