Pupils at Y Pant are preparing to become space biologists and embark on a voyage of discovery by growing seeds that have been into space. In September, 2kg of rocket seeds were flown to the International Space Station (ISS) on Soyuz 44S where they will spend several months in microgravity before returning to Earth in March 2016. The seeds have been sent as part of Rocket Science, an educational project launched by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency. Y Pant is one of a number of schools to receive a packet of 100 seeds from space, which they will grow alongside seeds that haven’t been to space and measure the differences over seven weeks. The pupils won’t know which seed packet contains which seeds until all results have been collected by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and analysed by professional biostatisticians. The out-of-this-world, nationwide science experiment will enable the pupils to think more about how we could preserve human life on another planet in the future, what astronauts need to survive long-term missions in space and the difficulties surrounding growing fresh food in challenging climates. Rocket Science is just one educational project from a programme developed by the UK Space Agency to celebrate British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia mission to the ISS and inspire young people to look into careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, including horticulture.
So far the pupils have dried the soil ready for the seeds.
Follow the project on Twitter: @RHSSchools #RocketScience
Rhodri Poacher in year 13 must be getting used to the limelight now. This week he was invited to the Welsh Government Conference to talk about his Duje of Edinburgh’s Award experience.
Stephanie Price, the DofE Director for Wales sent us this glowing report.
He did a fantastic job and was a great ambassador for the DofE. The Welsh Government conference was attended by around 100 youth work professionals including representatives from all across Wales. There were keynote speeches from The Deputy Minister for Technology and Skills , Julie James AM, Sally Holland The Children’s Commissioner for Wales and Professor Graham Donaldson , the author of the new Curriculum for Schools in Wales.
Rhodri was joined by Tilly Hall, a Gold Award holder from the Vale of Glamorgan, on a young person’s panel. He addressed the whole conference talking about his DofE experiences and responded to a range of questions from the audience. Rhodri gave a very mature performance and spoke very honestly and passionately.
As is often the case at these events the young peoples’ input was the highlight of the day!
Thank you for allowing him to attend it was a pleasure to have him as part of the DofE Wales team.
Year 10 More Able and Talented scientists have been taking part in a Science Quiz against other schools this year. One team— comprising Emily Prewett, Caitlin Langstone, Ieuan Davies and Megan Rees—have not only made it through to the quarter final but were also the top scoring team overall in the preliminary round!
Their next event is against St. lltyd’s School in Cardiff on 22nd June.
Last week, a number of students in year 10 and 11 attended a conference in the St. David’s Hotel organised by PiXL. Daniel Schoen in year 11 has written this review of the event.
‘Getting into the top universities’ was the main aim of the conference that I, along with a group of Year 10 and 11 students, attended on February 29th. Establishments such as Oxford, Cambridge and King’s College appeared to me as places that were unreachable; only accessible to the social elite. Coming from a comprehensive school nestled in the country borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf, even the idea of crossing the Severn Bridge to attend university seemed daunting. When I was notified about the opportunity of attending the event, I passed it off. I possessed several misconceptions about these reported ‘Russell Group Universities’, and never felt that I had an iota of chance when it came to applying for one of them.
After a short bus ride to the capital, we approached Saint David’s Hotel in all its splendour. After being presented with booklets to further enforce the information given, we were ushered into a conference room in the ‘Roald Dahl Suite’; overlooking the shimmering waters of Cardiff Bay. Our welcome was a warm one, we were invited to light refreshments before other schools arrived and the conference was upon us. As expected, many public schools arrived at the conference. It was certainly a proud moment for Y Pant, being one of the few state schools in attendance, and having a sizable group of pupils at the conference. Peter Rawling- the proclaimed Russell Group University ‘guru’- took the role as the admissions lecturer, he outlined the purpose of the conferences along with using his wealth of knowledge and experience to provide us with inspiration and advice for applying for the top universities. He then introduced us to a guest speaker, Ian McConnachie; a former student from the University of Oxford. As a former student, he was able to provide us with accounts that were engaging and was quick to dispel the notion that top universities like Oxford were reserved only for the wealthy and the upper class. He shed light upon his personal experiences while studying Maths at Oxford and also outlined information regarding Cambridge. Unfortunately, the second guest speaker was unable to attend; determined not to let these unforeseen circumstances overturn this event, Rawling spoke about competitions for applications for university and the courses available to study. He inspired us to create a portfolio in order to record our achievements and perform extra reading around subjects we were interested in, known ‘Super-Curricular activities’. It was said that these would enhance and reinforce our love for the subjects we were interested in.
Overall, despite the fact that it was slightly overwhelming at first, the conference really made me aware of the options available to me after KS5. It has inspired me to further research topics that interest me and has improved my self-esteem. I now feel that if I put the work in, I will be able to access the best possible route of education that will help me in later life. Although I am not yet certain of my future plans, the conference certainly drew me into the field of biology and I am interested in finding out more about areas of specialisation such as marine biology. My peers were also helped greatly, after attending the conference some are interested in pursuing careers in Law and in Medicine.
The MFL Department took 14 pupils to Cardiff City Stadium on the Friday before half term to take part in a carousel of language activities. The aim of the day was to promote modern foreign languages and boost uptake at GCSE and A-Level.
This is Henri Phillips’ report of the day:
In my opinion, the language day trip was a success and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The first activity we took part in was the STEM Language Ambassadors Problem Solving. There was a girl from New York who explained why languages were important to study alongside Science and taught us about the top 5 languages in the world (with English being third). Then we went to Routes into Language held by a Turkish man. He talked about how languages are involved in different sorts of jobs such as trading goods with other countries and even in sports. The third activity we attended was something I knew a little about: Spanish fiestas and festivales. We learnt about La Tomatina, El Encierro (the running of the bulls) and Las Fallas (a festival held in Valencia). Finally we had a tour of Cardiff City Football Stadium. Being a football fan I enjoyed this part a lot, especially asking questions and seeing the changing rooms. Out of the whole trip I enjoyed the session where I got to use my Spanish because I was able to use my knowledge to apply to the challenges set. I think the trip was a success and should be run every year and I am extremely thankful that I was chosen to go – I would love to do it all over again!
It’s been a busy time in the French department. On Friday 5th February five Year 9 pupils, Mason, Shani, Lauren, Cordelia and Lydia took part in Pupil Language Ambassador training organised by Route into Languages Cymru. Here are just some quotes from the day.
Last Friday we went to City Hall in Cardiff. We took part in a Language Ambassador training day. It was a very fun day learning more about languages in a variety of quizzes. We watched videos which showed us how important it is to take a language and how there is a shortage of people opting for a language in the UK. We were given leaflets and information booklets and learnt only a quarter of the world’s population speak English. We also talked about what we were going to do as language ambassadors to try and encourage more pupils to take a language. It was a great experience to go on a trip like this and I have learnt much more about languages.
I was really pleased that I was chosen to become a Language Ambassador for Y Pant. I thoroughly enjoyed the day learning about France and the French culture. I met pupils from other schools and worked with them doing activities. We learnt about how a language ambassador will support their school by arranging activities and events. We were introduced to students from universities that study French, telling us about their travels and experiences from taking French at GCSE and A levels. I am looking forward to representing my school as a language ambassador.
I think that the Language Ambassador training day was really interesting. I especially enjoyed the part where we learnt about French culture. We also completed a quiz which was fun, as we got to work with our school to answer the questions. I believe that the training day helped me and other pupils enhance our language skills and soon we will be encouraging other students to learn and take languages for their GCSEs.
Monday the 5th of October saw the School heats for the Springboard Future Chef Competition. Eight year 9 pupils took part including Lydia Morgan, Olivia King, Jack King, Courtney Jones, Catrin Grattidge, Ellie Hammacott, Natalie Johns and Ellie Jenkins.
Their brief was to cook a main meal with a budget of £5. They were judged on the balance of the meal including flavours, textures and appearance by Mr Powell, Mrs Lloyd and Miss Knight.
An amazing range of meals was produced and the staff thoroughly enjoyed each one. The standard was exceptional.
Dishes produced ranged from Chilli Con Carne with Garlic Ciabatta & Chicken Tikka with Mint Yoghurt to Pesto Pasta with Bacon and Tomatoes & Garlic Salmon with Asparagus on a bed of pureed Butternut Squash.
After much deliberation the winners were announced as Ellie Jenkins for her home reared Lamb Chops in Rosemary and Red wine Jus with mashed Potato and Carrots; and Courtney Jones with her Garlic Salmon with a crispy skin and Asparagus on a bed of pureed Butternut Squash.
The pupils worked independently for an hour and produced top quality dishes. Mr Powell commented that he enjoys cooking but “I couldn’t cook like that”.
Miss Knight will be accompanying Ellie Jenkins and Courtney Jones to Bridgend College for the regional finals on the 24th November.
On the 12th July Kiera White, and myself (Ellie Matthews) travelled to King’s College London, with 45 other students from R-CT- to complete a five day project. The project was for International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) with NASA in the hope that it would be launched onto the international space station. Unfortunately our group did not win overall but we had an amazing week!
We were introduced to Chris Barber (the founder of ISSET), Mike Foale (an astronaut), Dr Julie Keeble (a pharmacology lecturer), Sarah Murray (Assistant Chief of EVA, Robotics and Crew Systems at NASA) and Ben (our mentor). We were put to work to create a team name and mission patch. A mission patch is a special badge designed by the crew of a space mission which is then worn by the astronauts. We voted on the best ones and our team won both votes. The final competition of the day was to try and safely land an egg after it is dropped from 30 feet above the ground using equipment such as parachutes and balloons. The team with the egg that did not break and had the lowest expenditure won. Unfortunately our team did not win, even though our egg didn’t break. This competition was based on how NASA safely landed the Mars Rover on Mars and space craft on the moon.
On Tuesday the lectures started and the real competition began. The first lecture was presented by Sarah on her journey to become the Assistant Chief of EVA for NASA and how her job has influenced the missions sent up to the ISS. This was followed by Mike Foales’ experiences as an astronaut and his time in the international space station. Throughout the day we really got to understand the issues of iving in space and how difficult it is for the astronauts to adapt to the microgravity environment, this gave us a really good place to start on our research into our experiment. When we began designing our experiment we looked at very basic ideas and built on them until we had a solid idea, it was very important for us to keep our experiment simple but relevant so it had the largest impact, increasing our chance of our experiment winning.
Wednesday was focused on how humans react to being in a microgravity environment, the problems caused by the way fluid is redistributed around the body and how muscle and bone mass is lost when in space. This created restrictions on the experiment which were further complicated by the fact we only had a 10cmX10cmX5cm box to do the experiment in. In the evening we had the chance to talk to and ask questions via a video link with Scott Kelly, an astronaut currently at the ISS carrying out a one year study on how space affects the body in comparison to his twin who is on earth. This was really fascinating and amazing to be a part of.
The last two days were focused on our experiment. We had a day and a half to complete it in our groups and create a presentation. We presented in small groups to two judges and then the best experiments went into the final. In the final we presented to everybody on mission discovery and a whole panel of judges. The winning experiment will be launched onto the international space station in the next few years.
The whole week was fun filled and we would definitely do it all again. We met loads of lovely people who we had an amazing week with. If you get the opportunity to go take it and enjoy yourself because we know we did.
6th form student Georgia Guildford has been ice skating for years and last year made the British team for the World Synchronised Skating Championships. Here’s a report on that event.
Team Spirit, British Synchronised Ice Skating Champions are back from representing Great Britain in the World Synchronised Skating Championships 2014 held in Courmayeur, Italy. Georgia Guildford (then in year 11) is the youngest member of Team Spirit.
The Team arrived in Courmeyeur on the Sunday before the actual competition as it was possible to buy ice time on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and it’s not possible to get good ice times in Cardiff; the Team currently practice for 2 hours at 12 midnight on Fridays. The team trained flat out for 3 days, and then the unofficial practices started. As always the skaters and supporters of The Wales & West Synchro Skating Club (WWSSC) left a lasting impression at every practice, the International Skating Union volunteers were joining in with the Team “sing alongs” before the team took to the ice, and the Team received so many amazing comments about how polite and friendly they were.
Katrina said “Their actual performance in the Short Program, skating to “Where Have You” by Rhianna, on Friday, was the best they had ever skated it. I was on pins, I knew they had it in them and couldn’t have been anymore prouder to see them do it at the World Championships. Their marks reflected their amazing skate, we read the PDF score sheet and had a debrief on something’s that we could tweak ready for the free the following day and they walked out the rink full off determination to skate the free even better the following day”.
In the Free Program, on Saturday, skating to “Bust Your Windows” Jazmine Sullivan, Katrina said “My god they were so confident walking out of the changing rooms, it was very unnerving seeing them with not an ounce of nerves (well if they had nerves they didn’t show it). They were so focused and determined to have a good skate. I, on the other hand, was a mess as always. Their free skate was the best I have EVER seen them skate, with just one fall (perfectly understandable when you’re skating on a blade don’t you think?) they left me drained. The crowd loved their Creative Element and they really sold it. When the marks came up we just screamed. Team Spirit had their best Technical Score, and to accomplish that at The Worlds is just amazing, finishing in First place in their group and 21st overall”.
Here’s a video of their short programme – Georgia is the one being lifted.
“Y Pant School has worked hard to win the NACE Challenge Award Re-accreditation status. It has shown itself to be committed to developing a school where all pupils are challenged to be the best they can be. The more able and talented children are challenged and this helps the other learners to see what can be achieved.”
The assessors spent the day in school where they observed lessons, interviewed pupils, teachers, parents and governors and looked at pupils’ work.
They were also impressed by the impressed by strong leadership of the school and the support and challenge provided by the governors.
You can read the full press release from NACE below.