Issue 18


Happy birthday, Science in School!

This issue of Science in School is rather special: it’s now five years since Science in School was launched, in March 2006.

News from the EIROs

Mars, snakes, robots and DNA

Science in School is published by EIROforum, a collaboration of research organisations. Eleanor Hayes, Editor-in-Chief of Science in School, reviews some of the latest news from the EIROforum members.

Cutting-edge science

Moringa: the science behind the miracle tree

Moringas have long been known as miracle trees. Now scientists are investigating their properties in depth, as Sue Nelson and Marlene Rau report.

Uracil in DNA: error or signal?

Uracil is well known as one of the bases used in RNA, but why is it not used in DNA – or is it? Angéla Békési and Beáta G Vértessy investigate.

A neural switch for fear

When something frightens us, should we freeze, or should we investigate? Sarah Stanley describes how scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory are probing the mysteries of the brain, seeking to understand our response to fear.

Event reports

Science on Stage: countdown to the international festival

Science on Stage brings together many of Europe’s most innovative and inspiring science teachers. Andrew Brown reviews some of the recent national activities.

Young scientists at the cutting edge: EIROforum prize winners

Courtney Williams, winner of the CERN prize at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists 2009, reports on her experiences and those of the other EIROforum prize winners.

Young minds in science: the European Union Contest for Young Scientists 2010

Marlene Rau reports on the 22nd European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS).


Battle of the birds: interview with Tim Birkhead

Tim Birkhead tells Karin Ranero Celius about promiscuous birds and teaching science students.


Bad Science, By Ben Goldacre

Why should British teachers stop using the Brain Gym, which refers to itself as an ‘educational movement-based model’ and is used in thousands of British schools? 

Instructables website is a website that shows you how to make all sorts of weird and wonderful things, from apple coasters to a z-bend hyper-hornet.

Relativity: A Very Short Introduction, By Russell Stannard

Relativity is, admittedly, a difficult subject to understand, even to science-oriented people. In Relativity: A Very Short Introduction, Russell Stannard has made an effort to explain relativity and its implications for the laws that govern the Universe in a way that can be understood by those with at least some basic knowledge of physics.

Science education projects

The heat is on: heating food and drinks with chemical energy

Have you ever longed for a hot drink or meal but had no fire or stove to hand? Marlene Rau presents two activities from the Lebensnaher Chemieunterricht portal that use chemical reactions to heat food – and to introduce the topic of exothermic reactions.

Biomimetics: clingy as an octopus or slick as a lotus leaf?

Astrid Wonisch, Margit Delefant and Marlene Rau present two activities developed by the Austrian project ‘Naturwissenschaft und Technik zum Angreifen’ to investigate how technology is inspired by nature.

Science topics

Single molecules under the microscope

Would it not be fascinating to observe and manipulate individual molecules? Patrick Theer and Marlene Rau from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory explain how, with an atomic force microscope, you can do just this. You could even build your own.

Scientist profiles

To sea with a blind scientist

Scientific research is not a career that most people believe to be suitable for the blind, but such beliefs are changing. Biologist Geerat Vermeij explains that, whether you are blind or not, science is competitive, tedious and hard – and he loves it.

Teacher profiles

Teacher solidarity: a UK-Rwandan physics project

Thanks to the determination of UK physics teacher David Richardson, increasing numbers of students in Rwandan schools are experiencing the delight of practical work. Vienna Leigh reports.

Teaching activities

The resourceful physics teacher

Physics teacher Keith Gibbs shares some of his many demonstrations and experiments for the physics classroom.

Breeding dragons: investigating Mendelian inheritance

Mendelian inheritance can be a tricky topic to teach, but Pat Tellinghuisen, Jennifer Sexton and Rachael Shevin’s memorable dragon-breeding game makes it easier to understand and remember.


Published and funded by EIROforum