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Manchester High School for Girls

WHEN SCIENCE INSPIRES

WHEN SCIENCE INSPIRES

Here at Manchester High we want our girls to be excited about all the opportunities that their superb education opens up for them – including science – and that excitement should be ignited at as young an age as possible.

Our girls and staff in the MHSG Prep have just experienced a spectacular Science Week. This week-long initiative was our celebration of the excitement of all things science, technology and engineering-oriented, with the aim of expanding our girls’ horizons in terms of passion, interest and even future careers; here at Manchester High we want our girls to be excited about all the opportunities that their superb education opens up for them – including science – and that excitement should be ignited at as young an age as possible.

We are indebted to the hugely generous sponsorship from the businesses of two Preparatory parents, Sabre Valves and Rullion Solutions; thanks to their determination to bring the world of real science, technology and engineering to our young pupils, all year groups have taken part in practical (and often wonderfully messy) ‘Hands On Science’ workshops. From learning how the stomach operates, to ‘Samantha the Skeleton’, to the preparation of rocket fuel and the launching of a spacecraft, our girls have thoroughly enjoyed developing their skills in observation, prediction and fair testing. Workshops with such diverse titles as ‘Kitten Rescue’, which enabled our girls to learn how to make nourishing solutions from powder and water to help revive a kitten that has been found in a deep, dark forest, or ‘Massive Magnets’, which enabled pupils to investigate the earth’s amazing magnetic fields and flux patterns. My personal favourite -‘Rockets’ - explored what energy actually is and how it can make things fly. After every workshop you could hear the delighted chatter moving down corridors that illustrated how our girls had experienced the excitement of discovery that lies at the heart of science. 

Our week was launched with a member of staff from Year 5, a science specialist herself, who created a ‘real’ professor’s laboratory in our junior hall to demonstrate two thrilling experiments that explored ‘changing states’: with huge test tubes, multi-coloured liquids and expanding, foaming substances, our girls’ imagination and eagerness was captured immediately. “That was amazing!” “Science is brilliant!” were two of many elated comments I heard afterwards.

Every year group throughout the department stimulated the girls’ wider interest in science during the entirety of the week with numerous practical experiments that investigated everything from bubbles in our Reception classes to a “How can we drop eggs from a great height without them breaking?” practical challenge in Key Stage 2. Next week, the Stemettes, an organisation that helps girls make contact with women working in the STEM industries, will also be in the Prep Deparment, teaching girls HTML code and assisting them in creating their very own web pages.

The culmination of this week of engaging activity was the “Structural Spaghetti Challenge” where house teams in each class from Reception to Year 6, went head to head in a bid to create the tallest free-standing structure - using just spaghetti and marshmallows. Representatives from our sponsors - Sabre UK and Rullion Solutions – kindly spent time on Friday judging the competition for us; not only was this a wonderful whole-Prep project that involved girls from the ages of 4 to 11, but staff reported that it was a superb approach to girls working in independent teams – having to problem solve and strategically plan (as well as navigate the different personalities in their team) in order to maximize the success of their outcomes, with little help or guidance from an adult.

On our final afternoon, we gathered in the Junior Hall to hear our Reception and Key Stage 1 classes singing several energetically acted-out songs about the first Apollo mission moon-landing; a hugely entertaining finale to what has been a hugely exciting and beneficial week for our whole department. We thank all the staff who spent hours preparing exhilarating practical activities for our girls, our wonderfully generous sponsors, Sabre UK and Rullion Solutions, the PTA for their funding of the spaghetti challenge and other resources for our week, and to the girls for making the whole week such fun. If you would like to see more of your daughters enjoying the myriad activities, or read further details about our week of science, there are additional materials on this website and also in the Prep Weekly Bulletin.

Lastly, Manchester has been awarded the title of European City of Science for 2016, so if you want to ignite your daughter’s interest further, see their website for details of a range of exciting science-based projects around Manchester http://manchestersciencecity.com or take her to our world-leading science museum MOSI which is a superb day out for children and adults alike http://www.mosi.org.uk : do let us know what you discover about our wonderful world as a family. 

Emma C Nash