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APS Hosts International Erasmus Project

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From 3rd to 11th November 2018 APS had the pleasure of hosting for the 3rd week-long student meeting of our Erasmus+ project looking at Alternative energy and Energy storage. The aim of the two year project is to enlighten students from the 4 partner countries, Greece, Denmark, Poland and the UK about issues around switching our electricity supply to renewables such as wind and solar; great when the wind's blowing or the sun is shining but less good when they're not! Hence, the need for large-scale energy storage and clever technology that matches supply and demand. Over the course of the two years, delegations of 15-19 year old students from every partner school meet in each of the countries to attend visits and talks from experts and work in international groups.

As a world-leading city, it was no surprise we had a busy week indulging in both the science of the project and the equally important cultural side. We must thank the generous staff who organised excellent visits to the Cavendish labs at Cambridge University, Imperial College London and UCL. The group had the privilege of a guided tour of a science museum gallery by the galleries curators! We also had a number of STEM ambassadors and industry experts come into school to work with the group. On the cultural side as well as time exploring central London, the students and staff had a social evening at the legendary Rowans bowling in Finsbury Park and helped during sixth form open evening, running stands in languages and science.

All of the students both visiting and our own demonstrated model behaviour and great enthusiasm for international working and solving the challenging area of having a cleaner electrical energy supply. They now return to their own school and community to spread this knowledge and enthusiasm.

A very big thank you to the APS host families who had international students stay with them and to all involved in the project. We now look forward to the final project meeting on the Greek island of Kos in April 2019 and further ahead to where the students working on this project become future scientists and engineers in a global marketplace solving complex problems and making the world energy supply more sustainable!

Students had a lot of positive comments about the week's activities:

  1. Monday
  2. Wednesday
  3. Solar Panels Talk
  4. Friday

Guided tour by the curator of the Mathematics gallery at London's Science Museum

The mathematics exhibition was great, it was interesting listening to Natasha and Rachel (curators) why and how specific exhibits are chosen. They were so informative it was a real eye opener.Celia
The science museum was huge. We heard lots about the different computers and medical exhibits..I had a great time.Hamze (Danish student)
Who knew Florence Nightingale had such an important role in medical data collection. What an informative and interesting trip around the exhibition.Ash

Visit to Cambridge University's Canvendish laboratories and museum

A fascinating talk about energy storage and the problems with this. It was especially interesting to hear about 'load levelling' to cope with varying levels of energy production from sustainable sources such as solar power, and the different types of batteries that can be used to achieve this. It was also interesting to hear about the way batteries and such can be analysed, using a graph to compare the specific energy and specific power of batteries - for example, lithium ion batteries have a high specific energy but a low specific power, and vice versa for capacitors.
We also learnt about the problems with lithium ions batteries - lithium is limited, cobalt and nickel can be toxic in the environment, so disposal is a problem. Hydrogen fuel cells can be used instead, although hydrogen gas can be difficult to work with so the system must be made safer before it can be considered a viable alternative. Celia
  • brief explanation of the band gap within atoms where electrons jump from the valence to the conductive band when energised, and as they drop down to the relaxed state they emit a photon. It is the size of this band gap that influences the ability of the material to release a photon. 
  • learnt about the processes involved in the manufacture of flexible solar panels, such as spinning the substrate with the active layer material added at incredibly high speeds, or printing, in order to get layers as thin as 100nm.
  • introduced to the idea of perovskites, materials with an ABX3 structure, where A is an organic molecule eg carbon and X is a halide such as chlorine, which have an ideal band gap to be used as an active layer. These allow the solar panel to be both flexible and so thin that they are almost transparent, which could give rise to possible applications in buildings e.g windows.
  • Solar thermal fields are an option when temperature is too high for photovoltaics to operate efficiently such as in the desert - using mirrors to focus light onto salt plains that then melt - as the molten salt cools, the energy can be used without worrying about fitting photovoltaics with cooling systems or replacing the materials as they degrade/melt due to the heat, saving labour, cost and materials.
  • linking with the problem of energy storage - electricity from solar power needs to be stored in batteries that must be affordable, safe, use non-toxic materials, and must be able to cope with higher energy quantities in peak times. Losses from the grid are around 20%, so there is a need to optimise this infrastructure, possibly using a 'borrowing and lending' system where energy is sold between areas of excess and deficit, or superconducting wires to avoid losses if these are developed to a point where they are affordable enough to be a feasible options. Countries that may not be as industry heavy may be a better option for photovoltaic energy because they do not need as large or constant a supply of electricity.
  • difficulty with implementing renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic technology due to the high cost of such when compared the the relatively cheap energy sources that are available to the country, regardless of the effect on the environment, such as Poland with their intensive use of coal due to the abundance of it in the country. Suggests a need for an economic intervention / programs that allow countries to set up the infrastructure for more renewable energy sources without the country having to independently fund such an endeavour.
I thought that the lecture was particularly interesting and pushed us to understand the complicated science behind it all.Marionette

Imperial College London

Listening to the different speakers was really interesting as they all had different approaches to the topic. Following the talks, we got a chance to witness a Li-ion battery charge, and we were able to calculate the charge of it using equations ourselves.Eridona, Alicem and Said

erasmus imperial college


2018 Physics Trip to CERN

On our annual visit, led this year by Mr Oakes, to the largest particle accelerator in the world, we had the pleasure of visiting one of the leading particle decelerators. The antimatter factory holds the record for the largest number of anti-matter atoms and looks to discover why there is not more antimatter in the observable universe. Fran Panteli reports on our activities on the trip.

On our annual visit, led this year by Mr. Oakes, to the largest particle accelerator in the world, we had the pleasure of visiting one of the leading particle decelerators. The antimatter factory holds the record for the largest number of anti-matter atoms and looks to discover why there is not more antimatter in the observable universe. Fran Panteli reports on our activities on the trip.

Situated in and underneath Geneva, CERN is home to particle detector such as ATLAS and ALICE and the LHC – the largest particle accelerator in the world; consisting of a torus of some 27 km diameter. In visiting this revolutionary site and its two museums, we learned about the colossal international collaboration of its over 20 member states. We were able to experience first handily the scale of this alliance, needed from the discovery subatomic particles such as the famed Higgs Boson, to CERNs creation of the World Wide Web in order to help process their some 25 petabytes of data produced per year.
After swimming in Geneva’s natural freshwater lake, Lac Léman, we were then treated to a boat ride across its waters. The quaintness of Geneva’s Old Town is prevalent as one walks through its streets, with mountains glistening in the horizon, which divide Geneva from the French border. Along the lines of these mountains were the faint lines of cable cars, which we used to ride up the mountain on the last day of our stay. From the top, we were subjected to stunning views of both Geneva and CERN, which words will do no justice. These views highlighted the extent to which CERNs application of physics is truly across all borders, encompassing some 10,000 scientists, PhD students and engineers from around the world. Thank you to everybody involved in this highly inspirational experience, thoroughly enjoyed.Fran Panteli
The Geneva trip was really relaxing which was great after exams and also educational about modern science, for example learning about the GBar experiment which hasn't even been switched on yet.Saskia
We all really enjoyed the trip. Geneva was stunning especially the lake. The trip to CERN was exciting as we saw things that we've learnt about in the classroom. The visit also allowed us to learn facts that we otherwise wouldn't of been able to find out. The weather was also great which was especially nice for swimming in the lake and going on the cable car.Maddie, Maya and Maisy
Visiting CERN was as educational as it was inspiring. This was far from the only highlight of the trip, as we experienced everything from Geneva's amazing lake Lac Leman to a cable car trip up Mont Salève with breath-taking views of Geneva. The trip was invaluable, both for those interested in Physics, as we were able to see the application of science by people at the top of their field, and for those who simply wanted to experience the city. Either way, a great trip is guaranteed.Robbie, Ethan, Jim
We really enjoyed our time at CERN. The tours were very informative and inspirational. The visit showed the beauty of the innovation of physics into the world, as well as the importance of engineering and technicians. The tours also helped me understand how the particle accelerator works which will help me with my research pag.Our visit to CERNs large hadron collider and the components of which the institution consisted of allowed me to see how and why something that we use everyday such as the Internet was created ,which was very interesting. Furthermore, in addition to the visit to CERN, we also got to enjoy the city of Geneva by participating in activities, such as swimming in 'Lac Leman' and exploring the 'Old Town'. Geneva was a city full of culture and passion and we won't ever forget this experience.Alicem, Eridona, Bedirhan, Naiden, Granit, Haider, Alex b, Marianna

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We have had an action packed and educational program at STEAM club this year. Our activities have included making slime, walking on non-Newtonian fluid, building robots, sound engineering, building escape rooms, designing 3D sculptures, experimenting with dry ice and crafting and building science marble runs. Here are a selection of STEAM stories written by members of the club this year:

STEAM club 2018 was a fun and educational project. Sayin g that it was really a lot of porjects in ONE (which is even better). We did all of the topics: Sceince Technology Engineering Maths In science we did dry ice, fire, bubbles and chemical reactions. In technology we built lego robots that we programmed to move and worked with sound tech. In engineering we built bridges made something to stop eggs from cracking and marble runs. In mathe we did maths puzzles and designed our own maths escape rooms for an amazing compettion. (unfortunately we didn't win but we tried our hardest) and theres WAY more. Most of all we enjoyed it . We all Love STEM! Coco 7S
STEAM club is about learning different things (not just about science but also about Maths, Technology and Engineering). It was really good to get involved with because there are lots of opportunities to do. Three of my APS values that I think shoed in STEAM club is creativity, curiosity and Hard work. When I started year 7 I didn’t really like science, but as I joined STEAM club I really like science noew!! If anyone doesn’t really enjoy science, please try and join STEAM club and it will change your mind. Kyrah 7P
STEAM club was so fun during the time I was in it and in my opinion you should try it. The reason being is that when we built suspension bridges, marble runs and going on a fun trip anything could happen and so much more, I was stunned. And the reason for this was because we had our amazing leader and teacher, Mr G Oakes. Youri 7X
STEAM club is an incredibly fun club where you can do a variety of fun activities. In my opinion I find them interesting to do. If you join you will never get bored. Examples of activities are 3D models, lego building, marble runs, paper aeroplanes and many more. Daniel 7A
STEAM club has been an amazing experience as it is full of all the amazing parts of science that you don’t get to learn about in the science curriculum. It builds confidence and gives an opportunity for all students to do a range of fun, exciting activities including building a coll marble run, enter a competition, do the sound effects for an animation and design a model on a computer. We also helped out in many science fairs and there are many more amazing opportunities and memories. This club has built my confidence from being shy to feeling really happy and confidence. This has also inspired me to become a scientist even more. Mr Oakes is an amazing teacher at STEAM club as he makes everything fun whilst teaching and educating everyone on the science of the particular project. STEAM club is a place where boys don’t judge you for being a girl. Lily 7X
STEAM club was an amazing experience, jam-packed with all the best bits of science, including a variety of projects and experiments I would never have come across otherwise. Every single member, including Mr.Oakes, looked forward to every session—there was always something for everyone to learn and enjoy. Not only did we make marble runs, learnt about music tech and practices building study structures that would help us with engineering skills in the future, but we also entered competitions and took part in activities outside of school. For example we designed models on computers, which were 3D printed and one of them was sent to space! We designed escape rooms for a competition and visited the science museum for a workshop. We also became involved in events for younger children across the borough. Some of us had the chance to judge primary school projects made by younger children and also assisting at the APS science fair. We have learnt so much while having lots of fun along the way. If you have the chance to join STEAM club or any other science club at APS do! It is so important that young people become interested in science too and the is the perfect way to promote this. Aina
STEAM club is a place where we com together and achieve our goals by giving each other ideas, sharing with each other and being with other people that you’ve never spoken to before. STEAM club is to us part of are family and part of our future, and this makes us a part of STEAM club. Without STEAM club we ould have never found new friends or even leaned new things but instead STEAM club ade it possible for all of us but not just us. It could change your life as well. STEAM club to me is about having fun, meeting new people and achieving our goals. Also seing new thing s that you haven't visited or made. So im saying that STEAM club is a place that makes us start our future in APS. Stefania 7K
This year STEAM club has been amazing! We do really cool stuff that I would never get opportunities to do. My gacourite lesson was when we used dry ice and made chemical reactions and watched them make steam, change colour and explode!. I also got an opportunity to go to the science museum and go through a series of puzzles and open lock boxes to stop a timer. I would totally recommend STEAM club because it’s fun, you learn new things and it’s good for future maths, science, technology and engineering jobs. Alex 7S

Science Fair

On Tuesday 26th of June, APS main hall was completely taken over by 59 amazing science projects from our local primary schools. The Science Fair day offered KS2 pupils with the best projects the opportunity to see others' projects, explain their work to the judges, complete a lab sessions at APS, see a science show and have a chance of winning an award and prize!

The quality of the projects was incredible, with topics like ‘why can’t you land on Jupiter’, ‘how much sugar are we drinking’, ‘global pollution’, ‘robotics’, ‘slime’, ‘how does sight and smell effect taste’ and 53 more! The students from Y3-Y6 explained their projects amazingly often with excellent practical demonstrations. Over the course of the day the project stands were visited by 100s of KS3 pupils as well as staff and judges.

On the day we were also joined by seven STEM ambassadors, this provided excellent careers links, guidance, and an unbiased supply of judges! As well as displaying their project, the primary students also attended two workshop sessions, 1 making a torch and the other on balanced forces. We could not have run this day without the help and support form a brilliant team of Y10 prefects and Y12 helpers so huge thanks to you guys too.

The day was a huge success and we are looking forward to next year already!

Here are a few student and staff comments;

Thanks so much for doing the science fair, we enjoyed it the whole time! Archie & Hannah – Coldfall Yr6
We loved the day and wish we could do it all over again now! Thandi, Jessica and Max
Thanks you so much for such a fun science day. We had so much fun! – Yr5 teacher
The projects were great, I got to use a robotic arm and make slime. Sam
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