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2nd July 2020

A new type of Classroom

For a long time, Oakham has used the phrase ‘Learning isn’t limited to the classroom’.  Never before has this been truer than this term.  With classrooms closed and learning taking place at home – the kitchen table, or pupils’ studies or bedrooms, have replaced classrooms and science labs!

One might have thought that science would be one of the hardest subjects to continue and bring to life during Remote Education, but Oakham’s science teachers galvanised into action – enabling some astonishing learning to take place whilst at home. From investigating magnets to designing parachutes for their cuddly toys, lots of safe but interesting science has taken place outside our science labs!

For example, Oakham’s youngest scientists (Lower 1 and Form 1 pupils) have successfully studied a range of topics, including electricity, at home. Whilst studying the Solar System and Gravity, pupils were encouraged to look at meteorite craters by modelling them. Using balls or marbles as meteorites, they dropped them into flour or sand, then measured the resulting craters. Graphs were drawn to see if there is a relationship between the height that the ball is dropped from and the diameter of the crater. Some interesting conclusions were drawn, including this very astute observation that “the crater depth didn’t change greatly but the amount of flour that got sprayed certainly did”. Mrs Helen Martin, Teacher of Chemistry, explained, “Judging by that quote, I’m very relieved I suggested that they should take their equipment outside before they started dropping balls from any height!”

Older pupils have taken part in a range of virtual experiments and simulations, such as using the Royal Society of Chemistry task which investigates a chemical spillage and assesses its impact on a Site of Special Scientific Interest.  Pupils have also enjoyed some exciting practical challenges like exploring the chemistry of chocolate and why it has the perfect melting point. Another experiment looked into the chemistry of surfactants to answer why orange juice tastes so bitter after cleaning your teeth.   

Whilst all of Oakham’s teachers have worked tirelessly to find creative and innovative ways to support learning during the lockdown, the Science Department have certainly embraced and lived the mantra that ‘Learning isn’t limited to the classroom’!

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