Issue 10


Welcome to the tenth issue of Science in School

“Intelligence is of secondary importance in research.” So says our featured scientist, cosmologist Tamara Davis. For her, interest and inspiration are far more important for success in science. Tamara herself certainly lacks neither interest nor inspiration (nor, I suspect, intelligence). She tells Henri Boffin about her work on dark energy, supernovae, the speed of light, and life elsewhere in the Universe – and how she combines this with playing world-class sport.

Cutting-edge science

Sentinels: meerkat superheroes

Mico Tatalovic from the University of Cambridge, UK, investigates the private lives of meerkats. Why do these small carnivores live in groups? Why do they feed each other’s pups, dig together and guard each other? And what makes a really good sentinel?

The LHC: a step closer to the Big Bang

On 10 September 2008 at 10:28 am, the world’s largest particle accelerator – the Large Hadron Collider – was switched on. But why? In the first of two articles, Rolf Landua from CERN and Marlene Rau from EMBL investigate the big unresolved questions of particle physics and what the LHC can tell us about the early Universe, starting 10-12 seconds after the Big Bang.

The LHC: a look inside

In the second of two articles, Rolf Landua from CERN takes us deep below the ground to visit the largest scientific endeavour on Earth – the Large Hadron Collider and its experiments.

Event reports

Science on Stage: recent activities

Many of the national Science on Stage organisations are becoming increasingly well established: running inspirational national events, inviting participants from across Europe to join them, and setting up projects with teachers in other countries. This commitment to European science education requires a great deal of effort from all involved: organisers, presenters and participants. Eleanor Hayes reports on some of the recent activities.


“Intelligence is of secondary importance in research”

Can you play world-class sport, and also be part of a team that tries to understand the nature of our Universe? Yes – just ask Tamara Davis. Henri Boffin from ESO talked to her in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Ecology: media presentation CD-ROM, By Biozone

Next year, I hope to take a small group of students, aged 15-18, to Iquitos in Peru, where we will board a boat to take us up the Amazon to study the rainforest. So I was particularly interested to see that Iquitos is featured in the Introduction to Ecosystems series of slides on Ecology, a media presentation CD-ROM.

Water – Humanity s Project: media collection for the classroom, By Siemens AG

Water – Humanity’s Project is a CD-ROM containing a collection of about 300 pieces of media that examine water as an element of daily life as well as an important local and global issue. The collection is suitable for students and teachers of all levels.

Science education projects

Nanotechnology in school

Matthias Mallmann from NanoBioNet eV explains what nanotechnology really is, and offers two nano-experiments for the classroom.

Science topics

The International Space Station: life in space

How do astronauts eat, sleep and wash? Can you get ‘seasick’ in space? In the second of two articles about the ISS, Shamim Hartevelt-Velani, Carl Walker and Benny Elmann-Larsen from the European Space Agency investigate.

Scientist profiles

The winding road to science journalism

Originally, Nadia Salem wanted to become a research biologist and find a cure for cancer. Today, she is a reporter for Nano, a daily science magazine on German-language TV. Nadia talked to Marlene Rau about the unpredictability of life and the joys of being a science journalist.

Teacher profiles

Teaching in Sweden: tackling creationism, making waves

Conspiracies are at the heart of many a good film and book. Swedish biology teacher Per Kornhall is the author of a critical book on intelligent design and how it is taught in biology lessons in religious schools in Sweden. He talks to Sai Pathmanathan and Marlene Rau about his fascination with modern science and his views on teaching the diversity of life.

Teaching activities

Practical demonstrations to augment climate change lessons

Dudley Shallcross and Tim Harrison from Bristol University, UK, illustrate chemistry experiments relevant to climate change.

Better milk for cats: immobilised lactase used to make lactose-reduced milk

Dean Madden from the National Centre for Biotechnology Education (NCBE), University of Reading, UK, suggests an experiment to make lactose-free milk – useful both for cats and for the 75% of the world’s human population that are intolerant to this type of sugar.

Planting ideas: climate-change activities for primary school

Sue Johnson from the Institute of Education, London University, UK, introduces the Plant Scientists Investigate project, and presents three plant-related activities for primary-school children. Compare the carbon dioxide concentrations of inhaled and exhaled air, visualise your own oxygen consumption or weigh up the importance of plant conservation versus economic development.

Science for the Next Generation: activities for primary school

Wayne A Mitchell, Debonair Sherman, Andrea Choppy and Rachel L Gomes from the Next Generation project describe some of their science activities to introduce primary-school children to the science all around us.