Issue 6

Editorials

Welcome to the sixth issue of Science in School

In our feature article, we share with you the thoughts of Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt as he talks to Philipp Gebhardt about his passion for science, the importance of pure research, the influence of enthusiastic colleagues – and the role of serendipity in scientific discovery.

Back in the staffroom

Results of the cover competition

In Issue 4, we challenged you and your students to design the cover for Science in School and were very impressed by the quality of the entries. Despite gloomy studies about decreasing interest in the sciences, there are clearly a lot of very enthusiastic and artistically gifted young scientists in Europe, supported by inspiring science teacher

Cutting-edge science

Recovering Pompeii

Do your students find it hard to see the application of science to other subjects? Montserrat Capellas from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, explains how modern chemical analyses are shedding light on ancient Pompeii.

Of Roman roads, train yards and inspectors: recent discoveries in RNA research

RNA is a crucial biological molecule that is seldom mentioned in detail in textbooks. In the first article in a series, Russ Hodge describes some exciting recent research on RNA.

Oxyntomodulin: a new therapy for obesity?

Katie Wynne and Steve Bloom from Imperial College London, UK, describe their work on a hormone that could tackle the causes of obesity.

Features

Eyes on the horizon, feet on the ground: interview with Tim Hunt

Professor Tim Hunt, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, talks to Philipp Gebhardt about his passion for science, the importance of pure research, the influence of enthusiastic colleagues – and the role of serendipity in scientific discovery.

Resources on the web

‘Ask a scientist’ websites

Halina Stanley from the American School in Grenoble, France, reviews some of her favourite ‘ask a scientist’ websites in English and French.

Thanks to the help of many readers throughout Europe, we can also draw your attention to sites in Croat, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian and Serbian.a

Reviews

The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved, By Robbins Burling

Everyone does it everywhere all the time. I am not talking about Germans smoking, Americans eating burgers, or adults having sex – although the latter gets us thinking in the right direction.

Experimental Design for the Life Sciences (2nd Edition), By Graeme D. Ruxton and Nick Colegrave

Rather than being a book in which one dips to search for the answer to a particular question or for a desired fact, Experimental Design for the Life Sciences is a book to read through in its entirety: the student begins at the beginning and works through, learning how to design a good experiment in the life sciences.

Exploring the Living Cell DVD, By Véronique Kleiner and Christian Sardet

The Exploring the Living Cell DVD includes a wide range of films about the cell, covering many topics and providing background information for lessons: the history of the discovery of the cell, ethical debates about stem cells and evolution/creationism, and current research in cell biology. For the school curriculum, however, the most useful part of the DVD is certainly the film Voyage Inside the Cell.

Fossils: A Very Short Introduction and Dinosaurs: A Very Short Introduction, By Keith Thomson and David Norman

Fossils: A Very Short Introduction and Dinosaurs: A Very Short Introduction are both real tours de force and very engaging books. Their small size makes them easy to pack and take away to read during any spare moments.

The March of Unreason: Science, Democracy, and the New Fundamentalism, By Dick Taverne

The foundations of democratic western civilisation are under threat, argues Dick Taverne. Since the Enlightenment, material and social progress in our society has relied to a large extent on the achievements of science and on the freedom of scientists to question and experiment, free from dogma and ideologies; it is also this freedom to think and to challenge that has allowed democracy to flourish.

Science Magic: in the Kitchen and Science Magic: in the Bathroom, By Richard Robinson

The Science Magic books are part of a series of home-based practical science books that take as their unusual theme the use of items typically found in particular rooms of the house. 

Science education projects

Imagine... sharing ideas in the life sciences

With the help of enthusiastic school students and scientists, the Dutch school competition ‘Imagine’ supports the sustainable production of biodiesel in Mozambique, avocado oil in Kenya and the colorant byxine in Surinam. Daan Schuurbiers and Marije Blomjous, from the Foundation Imagine Life Sciences, explain what Imagine is all about.

Science centres working with schools: using peer-to-peer teaching to engage students

Sheena Laursen from Experimentarium in Denmark describes how the centre’s Xciter project helps students motivate each other to delve deeper into science.

DNA labs on the road

Ever wished you could borrow a PCR machine for your lessons? And perhaps an expert to show your students how to use it? Marc van Mil introduces DNA labs that bring genomics directly to the classroom.

Science topics

Why biodiversity research keeps its feet dry

Marine ecologists Iris Hendriks, Carlos Duarte, and Carlo Heip ask why – despite its importance – research into marine biodiversity is so neglected.

Fusion in the Universe: when a giant star dies...

Péter Székely from the University of Szeged, Hungary, and Örs Benedekfi from the European Fusion Development Agreement in Garching, Germany, investigate how a star dies and what a nearby supernova explosion would mean for us on Earth.

Small molecules make scents

Angelika Börsch-Haubold demonstrates the olfactory delights of organic chemistry.

Scientist profiles

Nicky Mulder, bioinformatician

Have you ever wondered what bioinformatics is? Or what a bioinformatician does? Sai Pathmanathan and Eleanor Hayes talk to Nicky Mulder, a bioinformatician at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, UK.

Teacher profiles

Teaching on ice: an educational expedition to Antarctica

Are there days when you long to get right away from the classroom? How far would you be willing to go? Eleanor Hayes talks to Phil Avery, one of four teachers who are taking a break from school to journey to the Antarctic.

Teaching activities

Counting Buttons: demonstrating the Hardy-Weinberg principle

Pongprapan Pongsophon, Vantipa Roadrangka and Alison Campbell from Kasetsart University in Bangkok, Thailand, demonstrate how a difficult concept in evolution can be explained with equipment as simple as a box of buttons!

Monastic ink: linking chemistry and history

One of the many purposes of science is to support the humanities. With this in mind, Gianluca Farusi and his students set out to investigate and prepare iron-gall ink, a historically significant material for the transmission of knowledge.

The Boy Who Would Be Good: understanding ADHD through a film-making project

An art teacher with a science degree? Karen Findlay put this unusual combination to good use with an ambitious film project.