Category: Year 9 Science

Hovercraft Challenge


Earlier this year our year 10 students attended the Science and Engineering Challenge at Deakin University in Geelong. One of the fun and interesting projects was to create a model hovercraft using a polystyrene meat tray, 9V battery, 1.5V motor, propeller and a few additional materials. You can find some instructions here. This will be a good end-of-year project for next week.

Another hands-on project that a couple of our Year 7 Science students have been working on is to design and build a model trebuchet – a medieval sling-shot. Sean found plans on the internet and he and Dylan sourced the materials and constructed the working model as shown below.


Snow Leopard

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Did anyone see the fantastic program on ABC last night with David Attenborough about the snow leopards of Pakistan? They are very rare mammals, that live in the harsh and isolated mountains of the middle east. The program showed a mother and her cub, stalking behaviours and how scientists have used a radio-tracking collar to get information about the range and territory of the leopard. Villagers think that the snow leopard is their enemy, because they have been known to kill livestock. But the film-makers believe that if they get to know the creature and it’s behaviour, they may start to try to protect it.

The Program Summary from ABC

Snow Leopard Conservation

Myths and legends about the Snow Leopard

Be a Virtual Surgeon with the Interactive Human Body!

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That science powerhouse, National Geographic, has an amazing interactive human body for you to discover. Drag the organs into the body to place them into the correct position, or hover to find out more about each organ. Creepy noises and heart beats add to the experience of delving inside the Incredible Human Machine.

Footprints – carbon and digital

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I am familiar with the term ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘ecological footprint’ but I hadn’t heard of a ‘digital footprint’ until recently. This article, from the PEW Internet and American Life Project, describes how internet users are becoming more aware of their ‘digital footprint’  – the number of sites that turn up when searching for their own name. The first time I curiously Googled “Britt Gow” I found obscure references to an asian card game  and one or two articles that had been posted by our local council and teacher’s union. One year, over 100 blog posts, countless blog comments and several wikis and nings later, I have a digital footprint of over ten pages. The learning curve has been steep, but social networking has been a valuable tool for professional development, especially as a teacher in a small country school. I hope my students will also benefit from the opportunities provided by social networking tools – as they already do informally on Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.

This term my Year 7 and Year 9 classes have enjoyed an “On Line Science Fair” with students from Mrs Laguna’s class in Philadelphia. I think the full benefits of social networking sites take longer than ten weeks to establish, so I will begin next year with a class wiki and maintain our relationship with overseas teachers with the intention of further collaboration.

Quia – create your own quizzes, games and surveys.

My American colleague, Mrs Laguna, is also a member of Quia, where you can create any of thirteen different activities (from battleship to scavenger hunts), as well as quizzes and surveys. As well as creating your own activities, as a member you can browse the activites of other teachers.

Here are a few for my year 9 Science class to try:

Electiricity Battleship

Electricity and Magnetism – Who want to be a Millionaire?

And for year 7 Maths (decimals, fractions and percentages):

Decimal basics

Ordering decimals and Ordering decimals 2.0

Fraction to decimal conversions

CSIRO “Science of Sport”

Following the “Toy Science” workshops, Simon from CSIRO presented four “Science of Sport” workshops for students in Grade 6 to year 9. Students were given the opportunity to learn about:

  • how shape affects drag force,
  • test their heart rates before and after exercise,
  • test the amount of glucose in different drinks,
  • dissect a chicken wing to show muscular movements,
  • test their reaction times, 
  • test how different materials absorb simulated sweat,
  • demonstrate the friction forces on sport shoes on different surfaces and
  • test their ball throw speeds.

Students rated the presenter 3.5 to 4/5; the activites 4/5 and the topic 4.5/5.

Toilet Roll Time Line

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Geological time is a difficult concept to visualize – humans have only existed on earth for a tiny portion of the time since earth was formed, over 4.6 billion years ago. I came across a site from Worsley School where they have used a toilet roll, a long hallway and sticky notes to assist in the visualization of the history of the earth. Each of the approximately 400 squares on a roll of toilet paper is equivalent to 12.5 million years.

Marine Biodiversity

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An international team of marine scientists believe that tectonic plate collisions were responsible for bursts of marine biodiversity across the planet. “There have been at least three marine biodiversity hotspots during the past 50 million years,” say a team led by researchers from the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Townsville. Tectonic plate collisions formed shallow, warm seas and many bays and islands, which allowed biodiversity to flourish in different areas at diferent tiimes. Read more on the ABC Science on-line website.

What is the deepest hole in the earth?

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Jules Verne wrote a novel called “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”, about an expedition starting inside a volcano in Iceland. Although the novel was fiction, scientists have been digging bore holes into the earth for decades, trying to discover what lies beneath the earth’s crust. The deepest mines only go down about 4km, but scientists in Russia drilled a research hole to over 12km deep on the Kola peninsula. After 26 years of drilling, the temperature reached 180C and the project was abandoned. Scientists have estimated that the earth has a radius of 6370km and the temperature reaches about 7000C.

Find out more at Wikipedia.

The Deepest Hole.

Giant Squid dissection at Melbourne Museum

Image: Paul McCoy Source: DPI Victoria

What has three hearts, blue blood and a brain shaped like a doughnut? A giant squid that’s what!
On Thursday 17th July, an immature female specimen, weighing 248kg and measuring up to 12 metres long, was dissected at the Melbourne Museum. The squid was caught by fishermen, deep off the coast of Portland and held on ice until the public dissection. You can watch a Melbourne Museum recording of the dissection here. The Herald-Sun has a short clip here.