Ireland’s team of science teachers wins honours at the Science on Stage festival in Copenhagen

23 May 2011

Science on Stage is a festival where 350 science teachers from all over Europe met to present their most innovative teaching ideas, workshops and performances.

Dr. Eilish McLoughlin from CASTeL at Dublin City University led an Irish delegation of five second level teachers to represent Ireland at the Science on Stage Festival in Copenhagen on 16-19 April 2011. 

Catherine Tattersall won honours for the Irish team with her ‘Colourful science- aqua bead’ project which gained a Teaching Award prize of €1000. 

Prior to going Paul Nugent, IOP Teacher Coordinator had arranged the recording of videos of previous Physics on Stage demonstrations for sharing with teachers at the Science on Stage festival and on the IOPI website (soon to be online). 

David Keenahan, Rory Geoghegan and Eilish McLoughlin also participated in making these videos and there was further financial support from IOPI, CASTeL and the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST).

Aqua Beads are hydroponic gel beads that can absorb up to 150 times their volume in water. 

Chlorella algae can be grown on their surfaces and then used in photosynthesis experiments using CO2 or O2 sensors linked to a PC or a datalogger. Beads soaked in Universal Indicator solution allow pH experiments to be conducted. 

Put Aqua Beads in lengths of Visking tubing and they can simulate red blood cells and diffusion at tissues. As the beads are very elastic they can be used to measure the coefficient of restitution. 

Smaller ones can be put in a tight plastic bag or plastic cup and placed on a speaker linked to a sound generator - they vibrate showing conversion of sound energy to kinetic energy. 

The beads can be soaked in starch solution then put in a test tube with iodine solution - the blue black reaction gradually starts as a ring at the outer edge of the bead and increases until the whole bead turns black.

The Physics on Stage demonstration booklets produced by the IOP originated from demonstrations seen at the first three Physics on festivals in 2000, 2002 and 2003.

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