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Science festival

Science festival

This week has been the St Mary’s School, Cambridge Science Festival – in line with the city-wide Science Festival that has seen different events pop up around Cambridge. Equipping and inspiring our students to think about what can be achieved through Science is an important part of our job, and so our fantastic Science department, led by our Head of Science Dr Cristina Alves Martins, organised a schedule of activities and talks this week.

On Tuesday, students in Year 7 to Year 10 were able to attend a talk delivered by one of our Year 7 student’s parents, about how the brain affects learning. A couple of key points from the talk were that:

  • areas of the brain closest to the spine develop first, which is why babies and young children find it so hard to develop certain skills when they are very young, such as communicating, because these skills are controlled at the front of the brain
  • the parts of the brain associated to different organs are not representative in size e.g. the lips and face have larger association areas, as this is important for our survival
  • the brain has 10 billion neurones for communication, enabling our survival
  • neurones that fire together wire together, hence, practice does make perfect. This also explains why we forget certain memories and skills if we do not continue to make certain connections in our brain regularly. When we practice skills these areas of the brain develop and become larger, creating more synapses (developing more connections). If you have a skill you do not want to lose you have to use it otherwise the brain removes the connection. This makes our brains more efficient by not having areas 'saved' which we do not use
  • babies’ brains are more 'plastic' (neuroplastic), allowing much more learning to take place than adult’s can achieve
  • stress can be a good thing as adrenaline is released which strengthens connections made in the brain; too much stress, however, will become disruptive and the connections we want to form do not

On Wednesday our STEM scholars organised different lunchtime activities for the rest of the school to investigate the efficiency of different appliances. Yesterday Year 10 Biology students were making immobilised enzymes with pectinase in, to break down apple cell walls to produce apple juice.

Today our Lower Sixth Physics students attended the Physics Olympiad, and the Biology Challenge for Year 10 students is taking place this week and next