Issue 11

Editorials

Welcome to the eleventh issue of Science in School

Are you curious to find out what life will be like in a hundred years’ time? Or have you always fancied living in ancient Egypt? According to Jim Al-Khalili, it may one day be possible – or will it? Is time travel science fact or science fiction? Find out more in this issue’s feature article.

Back in the staffroom

How to write a good science story: writing competition

Rebecca Skloot tells Sonia Furtado and Marlene Rau how she became a science writer, where she finds inspiration for her stories - and invites you to enter the Science in School science writing competition.

Cutting-edge science

Sugary insights into worm parasite infections

Schistosomiasis is the second most socioeconomically devastating parasitic disease after malaria. Alan Wilson and Stuart Haslam investigate new ways to combat the parasite – taking advantage of its sugar coating.

Outmanoeuvering influenza’s tricks

Catching the influenza virus can be more than just a nuisance: these pathogens have caused the most deadly pandemic in recent history. Claire Ainsworth investigates how scientists are working to prevent it happening again.

Event reports

Science on Stage: recent international events

Autumn showers, shortening days, jet-lag… nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of teachers, students and journalists from around the world who took part in the Spanish and German Science on Stage events. Sonia Furtado reports.

Features

Time travel: science fact or science fiction?

Do you believe that time travel has no place in a serious science lesson? Jim Al-Khalili from the University of Surrey, UK, disagrees. He shows how the topic of time travel introduces some of the ideas behind Einstein’s theories of relativity.

Reviews

A Dictionary of Science and Collins Internet-linked Dictionary of Science: Science Defined and Explained

As well as a good science encyclopaedia, all classrooms need a science dictionary, preferably with pictures and graphs as well as clear and correct explanations.

Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names, By Paul May

Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names shows that chemists do have a sense of humour, even though it may be a little ‘schoolboyish’ at times. Based on a website of the same name (www.chm.bris.ac.uk/sillymolecules/sillymols.htm), the book – as its name suggests – is a collection of the strangest, silliest and even rudest names for real molecules, minerals, enzymes and genes.

A Dictionary of International Units: Metric-Matters: Names and Symbols, By Philip Bladon

Have you ever wondered what a decasievert or a petahenry is? Why some symbols are written in capitals and others in lower case? What the difference is between ps and pS? How many ampere there are in a zettaampere? Or what Nikola Tesla’s nationality was? These and many other questions can be answered in Philip Bladon’s A Dictionary of International Units.

Potent Biology: Stem Cells, Cloning, and Regeneration, By Douglas A. Melton and Nadia Rosenthal

Say ‘stem cells’ and you can guarantee some strong opinions and heated debate.

Science education projects

Catch them young: university meets primary school

Teaching science at primary school can be a challenge. At La main à la pâte, Samuel Lellouch and David Jasmin send university students to support primary-school teachers. Why not try two of their activities in your classroom?

Take the weather with you

Karen Bultitude introduces a set of simple, fun and memorable demonstrations using everyday ingredients to explain meteorological phenomena.

Science topics

Powering the world

Energy – why is it so important, where do we get it and how much do we use? Gieljan de Vries from the Dutch FOM-Institute for Plasma Physics Rijnhuizen investigates.

Systems biology in the classroom?

Systems biology is one of the fastest growing fields in the life sciences. But what is it all about? And does it have a place in the classroom? Les Grivell from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in Heidelberg, Germany, investigates.

Biological crystals: at the interface between physics, chemistry and biology

Dominique Cornuéjols from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility introduces us to the world of crystallography. It’s not all shiny diamonds…

Scientist profiles

“Admitting to being a physicist isn’t really the best chat-up line”

Alison McLure tells Marlene Rau about her adventurous life as a physicist – from being a TV presenter and forecasting the weather in the Antarctic to taking gap-year students on an expedition to an island in the South Atlantic.

Teacher profiles

Serendipity in life (and) science: Christian Mellwig

Life has a funny habit of turning out quite differently from what you expect. Take Christian Mellwig, for example. He explains to Vienna Leigh that he was determined that, whatever path he took in life, it wouldn’t be teaching.

Teaching activities

Growing crystals from protein

Beat Blattmann and Patrick Sticher from the University of Zürich, Switzerland, explain the science behind protein crystallography and provide a protocol for growing your own crystals from protein – an essential method used by scientists to determine protein structures.

Fuelling interest: climate change experiments

Dudley Shallcross, Tim Harrison, Steve Henshaw and Linda Sellou offer chemistry and physics experiments harnessing alternative energy sources, such as non-fossil fuels.