Dear parents and guardians,
How the year is flying by. We’ve now passed the mid-point of the academic year, and for the Year 11s we are now coming into those important last few weeks of teaching and revision. It’s for that reason that I chose to start the term by talking about the concept of ‘stress’ in assembly. Too often we focus solely on the negative impact of stress, but I wanted to emphasise to everyone that some stress can be a positive motivator. However, we each need to recognise where our own boundaries are and where stress moves from being motivational to debilitating. I also gave some suggestions on how they might manage those stressful moments in their lives to make sure that the stress they experience is productive rather than destructive!
My last letter came very near the beginning of term, so it was too soon to share much of the exciting things that have been happening in the school since Christmas. So now I can take the opportunity to share a little about some of the interesting and unusual things that have been going on.
First we have our AstroPi team made up of Oliver, Henry F, Gillian and Henry M. They are looking at mapping correlations between pressure and other environmental factors inside the International Space Station (ISS), and even whether there is any measurable correlation between the pressure and the position of the ISS (e.g. possibly higher pressure when on the sun-side of the Earth). So, the program they’ve written measures magnetic field, pressure, humidity, acceleration, temperature and so on, every 30 seconds over three hours. It even shows the astronauts an up arrow if the pressure increases and a down arrow if it decreases. Their code is now ready to upload to the ISS.
The Year 8s have also been working on their Science Fair Projects, which have had them exploring a huge range of topics and thinking about how best to communicate their findings. Below are just a few examples of the excellent posters which they produced.
Looking at their answers to the reflective question of “What did you learn or which skills have you developed whilst doing this project?” they clearly took on more than just developing their scientific understanding; here are just a few of their comments:
-Researching online effectively
-Teamwork and relying on other people to help with the experiment
-I have developed my team work and I have improved my time management
-I learnt how to present results onto a poster
-Importance of doing research before undertaking practical work
-That you should work as a team and be open to other people’s ideas
-My teamwork and coordination skills
Towards the end of last half-term the Visual Arts and Design Engineering departments undertook a research trip with Y11 students to the Royal Academy of Arts and Tate Modern galleries in London. Students went to visit an exhibition entitled ‘Eco-Visionaries - confronting a planet in a state of emergency’. The exhibition explored how architects, artists and designers are responding today to some of the most urgent ecological issues of our times. Highlights of the exhibition included interactive sculptures, films and an interactive installation where students saw themselves reflected as an endangered species before contemplating a tank of jellyfish which have survived on this planet for over 500 million years.
The afternoon saw students explore an exhibition of the photographer and artist Dora Maar’s work, as well as explore the vast Tate modern collection. Dora Maar is perhaps more famous for her relationship with Pablo Picasso as his muse. This exhibition sought to examine her professional life as an established photographer and artist who had a profound influence on Picasso's work including the production of his most famous piece Guernica.
Students photographed and drew from selected displays and asked questions about the role of art and designers in creating more sustainable futures.They will use ideas from the trip to develop work for their exam project which will be exhibited in the summer exhibition to be held at the Visual Arts Centre on Friday 12 June.
Over half-term, a number of our Year 10 French students joined some of our sixth form students in a visit to Antibes in France. They really enjoyed their French lessons. Whilst they were there, they got to visit Antibes, Cannes, Grasse and Menton. They particularly enjoyed the lemon festival. At the end of the course, they also got a European certificate with a report in French and their European level in the language. They were rightly very pleased with their achievements!
This represents just a tiny snapshot of the exciting things going on in and around the school. This term holds plenty of other exciting opportunities including the Cambridge Model United Nations (CamMUN) coming up in a few weeks time, the Spring Concert at the West Road Concert Hall on 17 March and the Year 9 drama production on 26 and 27 March, with the Senior School Rock Concert on 30 March in the Portland Arms. Lots therefore to look forward to, and I hope to see you at one of the many school events in the coming weeks.
Dr Andy Kemp
Head of Senior School