Bunsens, Batteries, Birds, and Biology!

Year 5 have been focusing on Chemistry in the Lent Term and are currently learning about properties of varied materials. The children have been learning through experimentation, mixing different combinations of solids such as flour and paperclips, sand and salt, or dissolving sugar in water and then deciding upon a method of how best to separate the substances again. 5P used their knowledge of insulating materials to design their own lunch box and flask, with annotations of why they chose each material in their design. 5L have been working hard with Mrs Barrett to explore which materials would be best to make an outdoor kitchen worktop. 5L and 5P joined together one morning to burn different materials using a Bunsen and to decide which material would be best to use for the worktop. The children particularly enjoyed watching the plastic melt (and catch fire!).

In Year 6 this term, the children have completed the topic of electricity in Physics and will be moving on to learn all about animals, leading up to Easter. The children built different electric circuits using components such as bulbs, motors and buzzers and made observations of what happened to each component when more batteries were added. When the children were experimenting with the equipment, they noticed that sometimes the components would not work straight away. With a few hints, the children managed to figure out themselves how to get the components to work by checking a few crucial factors such as whether the wires were loose, or if the batteries had been connected correctly. At Vinehall, a hands-on approach to learning Science is essential for children to be able to think independently to solve problems and to be determined to keep trying when an experiment does not work on the first attempt, as this often is the case for many real Scientists.


In STEM, the Year 5 and 6 children drew inspiration from Rube Goldberg machines online and then were presented with the challenge to design and create their own mini–Rube Goldberg machine to enable a marble to be collected in a cup. A simple task at first glance, but then the children realised, their marble would need to be continuously moving, so they added height to their creations, in the form of ramps. It was wonderful to see the products of their imaginations as marble runs, string, upside-down washing up bowls and even chairs being incorporated into their creations. This challenge really encouraged the children to think creatively and to be resilient when working in teams. The children also created Bird Flyers in STEM, in the lead up to RSPB’s birdwatch week. They decided on how much plasticine to use on the nose of the bird flyer and experimented with various positions of plasticine and then challenged each other to see whose bird flyer could fly the furthest. Year 5 took part in the Birdwatch the following week, and after sitting quietly for a whole 15 minutes, we went on a little adventure into the woods to see if we could spot any signs of birds. Some eagle-eyed children spotted a few birds’ nests, and we could hear different bird songs. Thanks to Mrs Borrows who brought along some binoculars, we managed to identify a few distinct species in the Vinehall grounds and submitted our results to the online RSPB survey. Year 5 and 6 also created their own Lego mazes in STEM and then practised using some simple code instructions to instruct a Lego figure through their maze. The children quickly realised that instead of writing “Go forward” multiple times, they could advance their code by adding extra instructions such as “For the next 7 spaces, go forward”, to make the code shorter. The children then tested each other’s codes and tried to navigate their Lego figures through them.

Year 7 have been learning about Reproduction in Biology so far this term, covering reproduction in humans and in plants. This topic contained a lot of new scientific vocabulary and the children in Year 7 asked lots of interesting questions and approached their learning in a very mature manner. We are also learning about atoms and the periodic table in the Lent term, where the children have been researching how the model of the atom has been developed over time, finding the idea of a ‘plum pudding’ model quite amusing and intriguing! Year 8 have been covering a wide range of topics in their science lessons such as the immune system, antibiotics, vaccines, diet and exercise in the ‘Health’ topic and speed, moments, pressure, Hooke’s law, density, and gravity in the ‘Forces’ topic. We have also practised identifying independent, dependent and control variables in the Hooke’s law practical where the children could observe and record the mathematical relationship for the spring’s constant.

Before the Easter holidays, the children will be able to take part in the British Science Week poster competition, with details to follow shortly. To celebrate British Science Week, Year 5 will be going on a Science trip to Great Dixter in Northiam to celebrate this year’s theme of ‘Growth’. I look forward to reporting on that adventure later in the term!