[Student Report] AISHK Science Week 2021 Recap

What an amazing time we had celebrating Science Week with the AISHK Library and English Department, with the theme, ‘Science and Literature’.

Ping Pong Balls and Liquid Nitrogen

We explored the physics of condensation and pressure in a liquid nitrogen and ping pong balls demonstration in the 6th Floor Gym. Each class had an opportunity to watch the reaction. Students sat round the walls of the gym and teachers explained the science behind the experiment as liquid nitrogen was poured into a plastic soft drink bottle, sealed, placed in warm water in a bin, then covered with hundreds of ping pong balls. We waited in suspenseful silence with our hands over our ears as the nitrogen gas pressure built up inside the drink bottle. As the seconds ticked by, everyone was silent, waiting for the bottle to burst. It was louder than any of us could have expected! The loud boom was heard in nearby classrooms! Overall, it was such a different experience compared to the ones that we usually do in our science classes. Thank you to Mr Foreman and all the other science teachers for organising this.

Classroom Experiments

Selected classes also participated in experiments that explored the chemistry of carbon dioxide and sublimation. These were dry ice experiments, where students looked like scientists portrayed in movies and television with their beakers overflowing with cloudy white gas. Also, the ‘Harry Potter Selection’ experiment, where the mystery of the experiment seemed to cause a ‘chemical reaction’ amongst students. They became increasingly excited as the time to finding out their Harry Potter House approached.

The Harry Potter experiment was quite unique as we put on our safety gear and explored the chemical reactions of mystery substances. A positive test was one that caused a precipitation reaction, whilst a negative result was a clear solution. We were all given a turn to choose a mystery substance, substances 1, 2, 3 or 4. Four drops of the chosen substance were placed into each of two wells in a well-tray. This was followed by four drops of ‘Anti-H’ in the left well (dilute hydrochloric acid). Finally, ‘Anti-R’ was added to the right well (dilute sulfuric acid). Our houses were distinguished according to whether one of our wells caused precipitation or not. We had fun spotting precipitation reactions and learning what our ‘scientifically’ found Harry Potter House was. The actual precipitates formed were barium sulfate and silver nitrate.

The dry ice experiments were definitely experiences to remember. When our teachers added universal indicator to water, it was green in colour. But after dry ice was added, the water bubbled and we were surprised to see the colour change to yellow then orange then red. This was because carbon dioxide reacts with water to make carbonic acid and gradually lower the pH. Afterwards, dish soap was added which caused the mixture to bubble up and overflow, and we found that putting the bubbles that overflowed between two spoons made an interesting sound. We also put dry ice into water and just played with the clouds of water made as the cold carbon dioxide gas caused water vapour to condense.

In another experiment, we put pieces of dry ice in a small plastic film canister. Now, that doesn’t sound very exciting, right? Wrong! We found that it surprised us. As solid carbon dioxide sublimed directly to carbon dioxide gas, the pressure in the container increased, causing the lid to suddenly fly off with a loud pop! We had so much fun with the dry ice and learnt a lot!

In the Years 7 to 9 assembly, everyone was on the edge of their seats as the first paper airplanes were thrown, marking the official commencing of the ‘AISHK Physics of Paper Plane Flight’ competition. The first round consisted of selected members of each house throwing their paper planes. The owner of the paper plane that went the furthest went into the final round. The final round had one person from each house participating. They stood at the edge of the stage, and you could feel the suspense. They threw the paper planes as far as they could, and it was an extremely close competition – members of the audience needed to help out. The winners of the Year 8 Physics of Paper Plane Flight competition were Eucalypt thrown by Lachlan Cheung followed by Jacaranda thrown by Zac Louey who placed as runner up. We congratulate the winner, runner up and everyone in the competition for their efforts.

Stretching and Posture Routine

The launch of our new stretching and posture routine was rehearsed by students in Years 10 to 12 during Assembly. The purpose of the routine is to help students reset their posture, loosen tight muscles and strengthen tired muscles. This routine will be practised every day for two minutes at the beginning of Periods 2, 4 and 6 with a different stretching sequence for each lesson. If the trial is successful, it will be extended to other year levels.

The AISHK film parody ‘Harry Potter and the Science Department’ was received enthusiastically by students. Directed by Mr Peter Pulsford with the assistance of members of the AISHK Library, English Department and Science Department, it reflected the Book Week theme of ‘Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds’.

All the students had a good time watching the parody and the auditorium was filled with laughter all the way through. It was an amazing way to begin (and finish) Science Week! Needless to say, Science Week was a huge success and we’re sure all the events have students excited for what there is to come next year. Thank you to the Science and English Departments and anyone else who helped to make this possible!

Written by Zoe Wan 9E and Audrey Kwok 9H, with the assistance of Dr Andrew Hill