Issue 9

Editorials

Welcome to the ninth issue of Science in School

“Before I start, I’d like to mention two things: half of what I’m telling you will be wrong; and I don’t even know which half.” This introduction by renowned molecular biologist Ueli Schibler to his students illustrates a discomforting aspect of science. The only way to find out which half is wrong and which is right, is by disproving existing ‘truths’ and replacing them with new ones.

Cutting-edge science

What killed the woolly mammoth?

Climate change is nothing new. Caitlin Sedwick describes how a computer model is helping scientists to explain the extinction of the woolly mammoth.

Features

Interview with Steve Jones: the threat of creationism

Steve Jones talks to Vienna Leigh about the startling re-emergence of creationism in Europe, how teachers can help, and why he will never argue with a creationist.

Reviews

An Inconvenient Truth, By Al Gore

Horror movies are a popular, albeit rather despised, film genre. It is all the more surprising that the most horrific of the current crop of scary movies has recently won an Oscar, not to mention the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to its main protagonist.

Just a Theory: Exploring the Nature of Science, By Moti Ben-Ari

It is a regrettable fact that there is a marked decline of interest in learning about science among school students today (in many developed countries, at least).

Can You Feel the Force? Putting the Fizz Back into Physics, By Richard Hammond

Any book that has in its introduction “Physics is the action department of science... only physics can explain what happens if you throw [an apple] at a brick wall at 200 mph” has my attention.

Volcano Island, By David Lea and Professor Steve Sparks

If you ask Italian school students to name an active volcano in their country, they will have a wealth of names – such as Vesuvius, Etna, Stromboli and all the other Aeolian Islands – to choose from.

Science education projects

Fun physics in school: students perform for students

Herbi Dreiner and Tobias Strehlau describe how a university physics show inspired a secondary-school teacher and his students to perform their own school physics show. Why not try it in your school?

Is there anybody out there? An ark of life

An enormous meteorite impact and then a rocky flight from Mars. Is that how life appeared on Earth? Cornelia Meyer takes us on a space trip through the lithopanspermia theory and describes how she is putting it to the test with the help of student colleagues.

Science topics

Materials science to the rescue: easily removable chewing gum

Halina Stanley investigates the history of chewing gum, how the chemistry of the gum affects its properties, and how scientists are using this knowledge to make chewing gum less of a pollutant.

The International Space Station: a foothold in space

In the first of two articles, Shamim Hartevelt-Velani and Carl Walker from the European Space Agency take us on a trip to the International Space Station.

Scientist profiles

Cornelius Gross: from the classroom to the laboratory

The majority of young scientists working in research have only ever been that – scientists. But Vienna Leigh reports how one group leader at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory started his career at the front of a classroom – and feels that his science benefits as a result.

Teacher profiles

Curiosity killed the cat – or did it?

Frode Skjold tells Sai Pathmanathan about some of his favourite activities to teach science in primary school.

Teaching activities

Detecting sugar: an everyday problem when facing diabetes

Fred Engelbrecht and Thomas Wendt from the ExploHeidelberg Teaching Lab describe some experiments on sugar detection to demonstrate the problems that people with diabetes face every day.

Climate change modelling in the classroom

Why not get your students to make their own predictions of climate change – with the help of Dudley Shallcross and Tim Harrison from Bristol University, UK?

Meet the Gene Machine: stimulating bioethical discussions at school

Laura Strieth, Karen Bultitude, Frank Burnet and Clare Wilkinson use drama and debate to encourage young people to discuss genetics and what it means for us all. Why not join in?

Investigating the action of urease

Anna Lorenc from the Volvox project explains the importance of the enzyme urease and presents a protocol to demonstrate urease activity in the classroom.