Bunsen burners, crazy chemical reactions, liquid nitrogen experiments and making slime… it’s all the best parts of science on offer for students in the St Joseph’s, Albion Park Science Club. A place where mistakes are all learning opportunities and all learning opportunities are fun, the fortnightly get-together is keeping students excited, engaged and educated about the wonderful world of science.
St Joseph’s Science teacher and environmentalist, Clare Musgrave, started the Science Club back in 2006. She said the purpose of the club is for students “to realise how awesome science is [and] learn some key scientific concepts while having a lot of fun”.
“I started Science Club because I was keen for students to have a time purely dedicated to hands-on activities and experimenting, without the need to cover all the theory outcomes from the Science syllabus as we have to do in class,” Ms Musgrave said.
“Science classes are also awesome, but I figured the more science the better! Each year, there seems to be lots of new students interested in coming along at lunchtimes, so we have kept it going.”
Hear from Ruby, Rose, Timothy and Jackson on what the Joey’s Science Club means to them.
The club runs every second Tuesday lunchtime and welcomes a mix of over 60 students - a majority from Years 7, 8 and 9 - who are members of the club. Many attend every fortnight.
“We cater to all kinds of students, from all year groups, and of all abilities. Students drive the experiments and activities on offer, putting forward suggestions on what they’d like to do.
“The Science faculty at Joey’s is wonderful, and everyone helps out when they are able to, by either running an activity themselves or assisting during the lunchtime experiments.”
Student and Science Club member, Hayley, said she is grateful for the opportunity of the club, and goes often.
“You get to experiment and do all kinds of fun activities that you don’t get to do in class time. You get to jump into the good, hands-on stuff from the very start and learn along the way! My favourite activity was creating the density tower by playing with the different densities of liquids. It’s a really good club.”
Science offers a great scope for learning - it brings together elements of mathematics, literacy, curiosity and adventure, collaboration and teamwork. It involves data, design, investigation, reasoning and critical thinking, and encourages students’ own development of key skills around how to think, learn, solve problems and make informed decisions.
For many students who learn best kinaesthetically - through touch, feel and ‘doing’ - the club is also a great opportunity for them to have access to laboratory resources and be guided by teachers, but be able to play with the equipment, discover new things and better understand the world around them.
Science Club activities the students have recently enjoyed include:
- Constructing and using solar-powered ovens to investigate the possibilities of renewable energy;
- Making rockets using balloons and teabags, and experimenting with different variables to make their rockets travel further and faster;
- Observing ‘cool’ experiments with dry ice;
- Solving a forensics mystery (‘which teacher stole the fossils?’) using chromatography skills to analyse the pens of all the Science teachers, comparing their inks to the pen used to write the ransom note.
- Constructing lava lamps that the students could take home to their families;
- Using Bunsen burners to squash cans and other investigations into the impacts of air pressure;
- Constructing paper aeroplanes using ideas researched on the internet and comparing which type of plane flew the farthest, did the most tricks, etc;
- Using dissecting microscopes to study how insects, sand and even students’ own fingers look when magnified.
“Some of the favourites have been making slime, creating a colourful liquid density tower and eating ice cream frozen using liquid nitrogen to learn about changes of state,” Ms Musgrave said. See our Science Club photo gallery here.
"The slime-making involves a chemical reaction between the ingredients being mixed [see above]. Certain techniques create an extremely stretchy slime, while others create a slime that is more likely to break. Altering ingredients, quantities, and ratios also affects the results. All scientific fun, and quite a hit with the students!" she said.
"Another was an experiment involving students using a lit candle to move liquid from a plate of water beneath it, to the jar that sat inverted around it [see below]. They experimented via trial-and-error as to whether the size of the candle, or the size or shape of the jar inverted on top of the candle, affected how much liquid moved into the jar."
The fun continues outside the laboratories some lunchtimes, too - like when the Science Club was involved in planting a citrus garden at the school. St Joseph’s secured a small environmental grant from Shellharbour City Council last year, allowing them to purchase five established citrus trees, mulch and fertiliser, and create the garden with the assistance of a professional horticulturist.
During that time, the students learned about how to test the soil’s pH levels, how to plant and care for citrus trees, the best conditions for citrus trees, and most importantly, the benefits of growing your own food.
“We are hoping to have a good crop of lemons, mandarins and oranges in the coming years, which will be donated to the canteen for students and staff,” Ms Musgrave said.
“That’s one of the great things about the Science Club - it brings an awareness to the students of just how much science is happening around us every day.”
For more information on the Science Club or to join, contact St Joseph's Albion Park Science Coordinator, Mr Bryan Ie at email@example.com