As part of Activities Week we take a group of students to Croyde Bay in Devon every year for a “Learn to Surf” camp. Isabelle Smith and Alex Parker, now in year 9, have written us a report – it sounds like they had a fantastic time!
At surfing we had great fun. We started our first lesson with a quick practice on the sand then we were ready to hit the waves! We had to wait for the lifeguards to take down the red flag because it was so misty first! The waves on the first night were great and we all stood up on our boards. That evening we had fish and chips and explored the beach and campsite. We made friends with the seagulls who seemed to like our ships and waking us up early!
The next day we had a huge breakfast and a proper awakening from the cold wetsuits! After struggling down to the beach with our boards we found some stranded jellyfish. The surf was great and the weather was lovely. We went out quite far to catch the best waves although most of us fell off that day! That night we had a BBQ and played beach volleyball and rounders.
The drive back the next day was on one of the hottest days of the year, on a bus with no air-conditioning! We all had a great time, and really enjoyed learning to surf.
On the afternoon of Sunday the 10th of July, we boarded a coach to London. We were to spend a week at a university with officials at NASA and former astronauts; the opportunity felt rather surreal. After a 4 hour journey, we arrived at ‘Moonraker Point’; student accommodation situated near Guy’s Campus, King’s College London.
It was here that we were designated our flat numbers and had an opportunity to socialise with other pupils undertaking the course. Many of the students were from South Wales but there were also international students from India, Spain and France. After an introduction to the programme and a visit to a restaurant, we settled down in preparation for the days ahead.
Introductions and morning sessions were held by Sarah Murray- Assistant Chief of EVA, Robotics and Crew Systems at NASA. The main aim of the week was to design and propose ideas for an experiment, with the best idea being launched into space and carried out by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Together with our groups, the ‘Mission Discovery ‘ team set us tasks and challenges that served to test and refine a number of key skills. Time was allocated to independently discuss and develop ideas for our experiments. To design our experiment we also had to follow a set of criteria and constraints that included cost, size, and the limitation of interaction with the experiment by the astronauts; due to the importance of their duties elsewhere. Coping with these limitations involved using numeracy skills and allowed us the opportunity to learn how to budget. We also had to pro-actively engage with our groups regarding any identifiable changes that could be made to the experiments, following new information we were given each day.
Additionally, throughout the days, we were given lectures illustrating how space exploration benefits lives on Earth and the effect of micro-gravity on the body. Amongst a number of high class lecturers were top professionals; including Professor Steve Harridge, Professor of Human and Applied Physiology and Dr. Julie Keeble, a lecturer in Pharmacology.
We also heard from Mike Foale CBE- Former Astronaut and International Space Station Commander. His stories and escapades- including a near-fatal collision while aboard the Russian space station ‘Mir’- emphasised the NASA ‘you can do it’ spirit. His journey to becoming an incredibly successful astronaut conveyed how best to achieve dreams and ambitions, and also provided us with information that was vital when developing our experiments. In the evenings we had the opportunity to dine in local restaurants, and also to take in the sights of the sprawling city. Places of note included Tower Bridge and the London Eye; equally as spectacular in the darkness as the daylight.
After a great deal of research and preparation, our experiment ideas were finalised in time for the last day, Friday the 15th. They consisted of ‘The growth of kelp in microgravity conditions’, along with ‘The effectiveness of different types of fungicide in killing the magnaporthe oryzae fungus in microgravity’ and were to be presented to a panel of judges- including senior lectures from King’s College London and Mike Foale himself- if we were both to reach the final . Before this, we both had to face fierce competition from a number of other groups, each with incredibly in depth ideas and reasoning. Both our groups passed through the heats and entered into the final. We were required to give an 8 minute presentation in front of the panel of judges and over 65 pupils from around the world. In the end, we finished as finalists- losing out only narrowly to a team that focused on the growth of mycobacteria. Despite this, the experience was extremely enlightening; we developed presentation and team building skills that will no doubt benefit us highly in the future.
With regards to going to university, a relatively close prospect, it did indeed aid in ideas for future plans and possibly job prospects. The sheer amount of topics and skills that were developed will hopefully prove to be a positive addition to any career that we choose to follow- not only restricted to the region of astrophysics and space travel.
On Friday September 9th a group of year 7 and 8 pupils attended and event organised by Disability Sport Wales. This event provided with the perfect opportunity to try over 25 sports, with a range of adapted equipment.
The two day event is supported by Local Authorities across the South Wales region and National Governing Bodies of sport, and offers children, young people and adults the opportunity to take part in a range of activities. On the day various sports were showcased, all run by club coaches. They include archery, football, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, bowls, cycling, tennis, wheelchair rugby, karate and wheelchair racing plus many more. New sports for this year were rugby, goalball, judo, and gymnastics, making it the biggest InSport series ever!
Y Pant pupils had the opportunity to enjoy all the activities and get to know famous sports women and men.
Next Monday, 26th September, we are celebrating European Language Day!
All year 7 students are invited to our continental breakfast (muffins, croissants, juice, brioche….) at break time at MFL department. We will have French/Spanish music, quizzes, games and much more!!
To take part and avoid disappointment you need to bring £1 before Friday lunch time to either myself or senorita O’Keefe.
More able and talented scientists visited the British Science Festival in Swansea last week and attended the fireworks lecture.
Recently I attended the fireworks trip to the Swansea museum for British science week. Before the trip most of us were confident we knew a lot about fireworks however we were thoroughly disproved. We found out about containing the gunpowder makes the bang. So if you contain gunpowder in a small paper tube and insert that into a large metal cylinder with an open top you will feel the shock wave with a loud bang when the paper explodes. My favourite firework was the sparkling fountain because it was very energetic and not to loud. On the whole it was a great trip.
During the summer of 2015, I spent 6 weeks in Aberystwyth University as a student of the Summer University Programme. For six whole weeks during the summer, I lived as a student in student accommodation and attending lectures of varying intensity to then sit and examination lesson at the end of the course. The six weeks was split up into 3 periods of two weeks. I would sit a course of my choice and core skills and they would change every two weeks. Altogether, I sat 6 modules with university standard assessments.
The first two weeks of the holiday, I studied Core Skills one, which required me to write an essay of 1000 words about the influence of popular music on Western culture. I decided to do mine on Punk as it was a very influential part of the late 20th century and the first few years of the 21st century, although less influential during the latter. I also studied a subject of my choice, which was Psychology, in which was studied about Social Psychologist and, of course, the Stanford Prison Experiment. We also looked at the Robber’s Cave experiment which saw two groups of teenage boys on a camping trip. Neither of the groups knew about the other group, and after a week of activities, the two groups were brought together. The aim was to study hostility between groups. At the end of the two weeks, we had to write an essay of 1500 words on a question we were given, so I decided to Critically Evaluate the Behavioural Approach, along with a power point presentation highlighting a topic that we feel strongly about. My presentation was on how Social Media has led to a decrease of literacy rates across England and Wales. To results were shocking. I finished the first two weeks with a 2,2 in core skills and Psychology.
The second two weeks followed a similar format to the first part of the summer. I sat through 2 hours of core skills in the morning, researching and writing a 800 word essay on the question “To learn in Welsh is a privilege! Discuss”. Many people had strong views on this subject, myself included. I decided to take a historical approach to answering this question. My second choice subject was Drama. I quite enjoyed drama and the lecturer’s name was Ritz. However, he was also a philosophy teacher so the majority of the lessons were very philosophical based, including the scripted piece we studied; Waiting for Godot. Despite this, I very much enjoyed reading the play. For the assessment at the end of the middle two weeks, we had to perform a play of our stories that we had written and hand in a journal we had been keeping of the two weeks we were in Drama. This time, I received a 2,2 for core skills but a 2,1 in Drama.
The final two weeks, the core skills essay was about a question our team devised with an accompanying presentation. My team decided to do our assignment on “The Increase OF Global Communications has brought the human race together.” Discuss!
I found this essay and research to be very interesting and I enjoyed working as part of team to come up with a final product that we were all very happy with. I am still waiting on the results of this block at this time, but I am sure I have done well. My final chosen subject was Law. I was very excited about this as I aim to become a Homicide detective. I have now decided that I am going to study Criminal Law in Aberystwyth when I leave school and this programme has helped me decide.
But it wasn’t all work. The leaders of the programme put on a range of activities every night for us, making this experience not only an educational one, but a social one as well. I have made many friends that I will keep in contact with. This was a once in a lifetime experience and if any of you get the opportunity to do this, I would highly recommend it. At the end of the summer, there was a graduation ceremony where we received certificates and have been told that we have an offer of EE to get into Aberystwyth University which has helped me out a lot.
Congratulations to Jack Batacan and Seb Bunyan—year 10. They’ve both just signed for Bristol Flyers (British Basketball League team) to play in the Southwest England national league team at under 16’s. They will still play for their Welsh club Pontypridd Panthers.