Girls enjoy hands-on science workshop about angry gulls

'Angry Gulls' workshop at Farlington School'= SUS-160102-102458001
'Angry Gulls' workshop at Farlington School'= SUS-160102-102458001

Science came to life at Farlington School last week as girls in Years 6 to 9 were treated to a presentation and workshop from Richard Robinson, Director of the Brighton Science Festival, and Jonathan Hare, physicist and presenter of BBC’s Rough Science.

The ‘Angry Gulls’ workshop was a hands-on opportunity for the students to use their ingenuity and their understanding of science to solve a very practical problem. The workshop’s focus was on how seagulls manage to bomb us so effectively, allowing for their own forward motion and factoring in the acceleration of gravity.

The challenge for the students was to design and build a delivery system of comparable accuracy. The wider social aspect of this is that we can learn how to accurately place air drops, such as food or medical supplies, in war-torn areas when landing a plane is not an option.

The girls were split into groups during the one-hour sessions and given gull models and various materials for them to create a gull which would glide along a rope and drop its deposit at the correct place. The students came up with many different solutions, some more effective than others, as they worked through the problems relating to the physics and maths of moving bodies, and the pure engineering challenge of building the delivery system. The sessions were a great opportunity for team work, communication and independent learning.

Ella Bubb in Year 9 said: “The two physicists gave us a workshop based on trajectories which was very interesting whilst being fun. Our task was to send a plastic seagull down a zip wire and make it ‘poo’ at a certain spot.

“The seagull had a rectangular hole on the bottom of it and we had to create a trapdoor mechanism which released at the right point to drop wet tissue onto the person underneath!

“ To do this we had materials such as Blu-tack, straws, pegs and wire. After we had tested our seagulls, we had a short lecture and saw some videos on trajectories and air resistance. It was a very enjoyable experience and I learnt lots.”

Sarah Barber-Khan, Head of Lower School Science, who organised the workshop, commented: “The problem-solving approach towards learning is very empowering for students and during this fun activity the development of the girls’ understanding could be tracked by observing the change of expression from initial puzzlement, through curiosity and determination, to final grins of triumph at successful delivery of the gull ‘bombs’!”

Report and picture contributed by Farlington School.