CSI ELP Science…coming to a classroom near you soon!

ELP Science will be entering the realm of the forensic detective in the coming weeks and months – thanks to Inspector Ben of Scotland Yard showing an insatiable appetite for all things CSI!

We will be differentiating the current mainstream S3 Forensic Options course and introducing our Senior ELP Scientists to the world of finger prints, foot prints and deduction.

Whether it is generating our own finger prints and looking for incriminating whorls or measuring tyre treads in the mud, our intrepid investigators will be learning a range of important life skills and scientific competencies. It should even make watching CSI even more fun for them!

Senior ELP Science finding out how to make pictures using only 3 colours of light…

Have you ever wondered how your television screen shows such wonderful pictures? Did you realise that these pictures are made using only three colours of light in the first place?


Here is a close up of a television screen. You can clearly see the three colours it uses to generate other colours – and therefore pictures. The 3 main colours are

  • red
  • blue
  • green

By mixing red and green you can make yellow light. By mixing red and blue you can make magenta light (pinky colour). By mixing blue and green you can make cyan (turquoisy colour). By mixing red, green and blue light all together at the same time you can make white light!

This is the basis for making coloured pictures on the television screen.

The process for making colour described above is known as additive colour mixing. Additive mixing happens when coloured light is superimposed to make new colours. This can happen by projecting different coloured lights on top of one another, by flashing the lights so quickly we can’t see the individual colours, or by making adjacent patches of the colours so small that they blur together in our eyes. It is this last technique (small dots of light) that is most often used in colour televisions. There are other important parts of making colour television work. These include breaking the picture up into small spots of light, called pixels.

Senior ELP Science pupils tune in to television and radio…

 Episode One – “How do televisions and radios work?”

As part of the Senior ELP Science programme we have been learning about how televisions and radios work. This is part of an Intermediate I Physics unit we are undertaking but we are also just very interested in what goes on “inside the box”.



We have been discovering that radios have 6 important parts. They are shown here

The aerial collects signals sent from far away. The tuner helps you choose the right frequency/station. The decoder helps change that into a signal that is sent to the amplifier to be made stronger. The loudspeaker turns that signal into sound. All of this needs a power supply to make it work.


A television is a lot like a radio but it has two jobs to do – it has to produce pictures as well as sound. This means it has more important parts. They are shown below:

Just like the radio, it has an aerial to collect signal from far away. It also has a tuner to select the correct frequency/channel. However, the television has two decoders – one for sound and one for pictures. It also has two amplifiers – one for sound and one for pictures. The television has only one loudspeaker to turn the signal into soundwaves we can hear. It also has a tv tube which turns the vision signal into pictures on a screen. The television needs mains electricity to work. This is different to the radio which can be run on batteries.

 Tune in next time for…

“Episode Two – How do we make pictures using only 3 colours of light?”


Script  David Tracey

Director  Rachael Baillie

Producer Mrs Binnie

With thanks to Dr Voge

ELP Whole School Project contribution boxes clever…

The ELP pupils will, as always be contributing to the work being done to make our annual Open Day the success it always is through our Whole School Project, London 2012.

We will be using a number of curricular areas to celebrate the success of our former pupil, Josh Taylor, in qualifying to represent Team GB at the London Olympics. Our plans include:

  • building “Josh’s Gym” – a 3D lifesize version of a boxing gym kitted out with suitable equipment thanks to collaboration with our excellent PE teachers
  • using boxing vocabulary in English to create written pieces about Josh’s participation at the Olympics for display at Open Day
  • creating a computer-based presentation to be used as our backdrop in our ICT lessons
  • learning about healthy hearts, lungs, diet and muscles in our ELP Science lessons and comparing Josh with other boxers such as David Haye – who would have the bigger reach, heart and weight? What difference would that make?
  • learning about the role sport and self defence lessons might have in boosting our mental health as well as our physical health in our ELP Health lessons.

We are certainly going to be boxing clever for this year’s Whole School Project contribution thanks to Josh and his wonderful news!


Hear, hear…making a pig’s ear of Physics


This week in physics we have been trying to answer some interesting questions about hearing in different species of animal. We all know that some animals have better hearing than others. If you have a pet dog you will know that they often hear things you cannot. This video of a boxer dog shows exactly what we mean…


We had a number of questions we wanted answered about the hearing in animals:

  • Can fish hear when it looks like they have no ears?
  • Can dolphins and whales talk to each other?
  • Why does an owl turn its head right round when looking and listening to things?
  • Why do horses’ ears turn round?
  • If bats have poor eyesight how do their ears help them hunt?
  • If elephants have enormous ears do they hear better than other animals?
  • How do our own ears work?
  • Why do pigs have big hairy ears?

We have used our science lessons to do an investigation that will help us understand a little more about animals and their hearing. The dog video gave us some useful information about the frequency the boxer could hear. We wanted to find out what frequencies other animals could hear noises at – and who was the champion species at listening!

We are in the process of completing a Powerpoint to let people know what we have found out. The Powerpoint will contain all the answers to our questions…

In the meantime, here is some scientific data showing what some other researchers have discovered. Do you think that elephant ears are good at hearing? And what animal’s hearing range is greatest?


Approximate Range (Hz) 



























If you want to have a quiet time this Christmas…borrow Santa’s cotton wool beard!

This month the Senior ELP Scientists have been undertaking the Learning Outcome 3 from their Physics Unit, Sound and Music.

They have been  Investigating which material blocks the sound best using an experiment described in the linked Powerpoint devised by the pupils to show what they did – and discovered!

We began the lessons by asking why some of our pupils carry ear defenders with them on their wheelchairs and discovered they did this because they may have to sit near fire bells during a fire alarm and their ears need extra protection. We were lucky enough to be allowed a look at some of these defenders and posed the questions

  • what were they made from?
  • why were the materials important and useful?

We remembered that sound can only be made when something vibrates and that it needs particles to be able to move from one place to another. You can’t hear any noises in space because it is a vacuum – which makes a lot of the Star Wars and Star Trek scenes inaccurate we guess 🙂

Some materials transmit sound waves better than others. Solids work better than liquids and liquids are better than gases! We know sound travels through solids better than gases because we could hear a scratch on a table better by putting our head on the desk. We know sound travels through liquids because we have seen dolphins and whales communicate under the sea.

We were set the challenge of trying to find out what material would make the best sound insulator. The materials we were asked to test included

  • foam
  • rubber
  • cotton wool
  • bubble wrap

Our method and results are included in the Powerpoint.

At the end we had to draw a conclusion about which material would be best at keeping out sound and decided that cotton wool would be most suitable because of the results of our experiments. Maybe that’s why Santa moves around so quietly at night…


Fireworks for Senior ELP Scientists (and artists)…

Flame test performed on copper sulfate in a gas flame.

This week our Senior ELP Scientists have been working across the curriculum under the umbrella theme of “firework night”.

In Science with Miss Pique and Mrs Binnie they have been studying light and sound and trying to figure out which one travels faster. Fireworks and thunder and lightning have been used as good everyday examples of light travelling faster than sound. We can see the firework explode before we hear the delayed sound of the explosion. We see lightning first before we hear the delayed sound of thunder.

As it was an ELP birthday today, we thought it might be good fun to find out for ourselves! Firstly, we investigated how firework flames become coloured through undertaking our own flame tests with a range of chemicals. We had great fun making green, red, pink, purple and orange flames. Then we went outside to see how sparklers worked – kitted up with our own safety specs and heat proof gloves we had great fun in the playground watching white sparkles land all around us on the ground!

Elsewhere in our lessons we tied in this work with an artistic impression of fireworks against a dark sky. The clocks have gone back again and the nights are now very dark. Perfect conditions to see the sparkling colours of our fireworks in. The students worked with Mrs Hoban using black paper and a range of glitters and some glue to present our own take on rockets, catherine wheels and bangers. The end result was very effective and the pupils are now looking for somewhere suitable to display their work.

This weeks lessons are very  much going with a bang!

Ben the Panda visits ELP Science!

Junior ELP Scientists have been working hard this term studying animals and they were treated to a fantastic surprise last Friday when Ben the Panda came into our lessons to meet Ben the pupil!

Ben the pupil had been taking part in his weekly Animal Bingo game when he was surprised by Ben the Panda. He didn’t want our Chinese herbivore friend to join in however as he was concerned he might be a CHEETAH.

As if…

PS Mrs Binnie and Ms Pique would like to thank Ben the Panda for visiting – and for making Ben the pupil’s day!

Sound and Music – senior ELPs make a racket!

ELP Science

Our Senior ELPs are currently working towards an Acc 3/Int 1 unit in Sound and Music from the mainstream Physics curriculum. We have had great fun finding out

  • how sounds are made
  • how sound travels
  • that you can’t be heard screaming in space!
  • that sound energy moves as a wave
  • that sound needs particles in order to be heard
  • that particles exist in three states of matter – solid, liquid or gas
  • that waves have a frequency that determines how high pitched a sound is
  • that waves have an amplitude that determines how LOUD a sound is

We have been trying to find out what effect we can have on a sound by changing different aspects of how we make it. We discovered that

  • stringed instruments all need some sort of “box” to make them work
  • we can change a string sound by shortening the length of the string
  • a tuning fork can very visibly show us that sound needs vibrations to happen for the noise to occur – ask about what happened when your child touched a tuning fork on their nose or put it into a beaker of water! ;-)

In the coming weeks we will be looking at how fast sound can travel – comparing it with the speed of other things. Firework night will provide us with lots of timely evidence that sound and light travel at different speeds! We will also be looking at the many uses of sound in every day life…like the one below which will be needed again this week!

Bird is the word in Gardening…

We have been paying special attention to the needs of the bird life in the local community this winter. With yet another cold and snowy few months the need for looking after our feathered friends is even greater than usual. In November we spent a couple of lessons making and stock piling bird feeders and fat balls to be used through the colder months. Thankfully we managed this just in time for the dreadful cold spell that started in the last week of November and ended in January. We were able to put food out in the garden in a number of locations and help the small birds source energy when they needed it most.

On our return after Christmas we inspected our feeders and discovered that all of the food had gone. We were not surprised and set out to replenish the feeders again – just in case more bad weather happens.

In addition to being very vigilant and conscientious bird feeders we have also been studying other aspects of feathered life…

  • from a science perspective we have researched the kinds of birds that live in British gardens
  • in Art we have designed our own pictures of some of the different species in preparation for a survey of garden birds with the RSPB
  • through music we have studied a recording of bird song using it as means of relaxation and in order that we could consider why some birds sing…