Monthly Archives: Jan 2015

Continental Drift

This week we looked at Continental Drift and the (very much simplified) story of Wegener.

I used one of the activities here where I’d pre-cut the shapes of the continents out. We looked at them, identified the fossil sections that were the same on each piece and coloured them as suggested. It then took a while to fit the pieces together to make Pangea, before identifying which land mass was where on a modern day map.

continental drift

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Mind Games: Mental Health, Hockey Fandom, And How What You Love Can Nearly Kill You

Reblogged from @fourthlinwing

Chasing Dragons

Note. This post will contain swearing. It will also contain discussion of potential triggering topics like self-harm, suicidal ideation and verbal abuse. If you feel vulnerable to be triggered by any mention of these, feel free to stop reading at any point. In short-if you want sunshine and rainbows, then in this post you’re in the wrong place. 

People follow hockey, like any sport for many reasons. Some love the competition, some love the sense of community, some love to watch athletic feats very few are capable of.

Hockey, for me, is an addiction. I need the sound of an Easton Synergy striking a puck, the shhrip of skates on ice, the sight of a forward going end-to-end before beating a goalie, or the primal yowl of a goal horn like a crack addict needs a fix or a drowning swimmer needs oxygen. It flows through my blood like water…

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This week we have been learning about volcanoes. As well as trying to remember they are found on the edges of the plates, we’ve been learning more new vocabulary – lava, magma, igneous rock.

Making a volcano

First, we did the old faithful, making a volcano from playdough and making it erupt. We used baking powder, red food colouring (or food poisoning as one of the students insisted on calling it!) and weak sulphuric acid.



Sadly, I can’t put the pictures of the students setting them off, but you get the idea.

We then looked at lava cooling into igneous rock, using an experiment adapted from ‘Edible rocks‘. I melted the chocolate on silver foil over a beaker of water – it scares me a little how few of my Y10 students seem to have had the opportunity to use bunsen burners in the past – there’s some work for another day! I did try melting the chocolate in boiling tubes, but they ended up in the bin as we couldn’t get the chocolate out! T tells me I’m a ‘failure teacher’!

We used chocolate chips, but these did not cool down particularly quickly, so we had to do the ‘look, the chocolate has set, the rocks have gone hard, the lava has become igneous rock’ at the start of the following lesson.


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#100WCGU week #164 – success

The prompt this week was ‘and then I smiled’


Panting hard, I struggled to pull myself up and out of the pool. I checked the time again, and did a quick calculation. And then I smiled. All that hard work was paying off. I’d done my distance in less than thirty minutes for the first time, and without stopping too.
With luck, and further effort, I’d be able to keep that pace now and build up to double the distance, as long as the pool was empty.
Pleased with myself, I headed to the sauna to get my breathing back to normal and relax before returning to the hectic pace of life.


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#OnFire – Tait and Cowley

Unedited version of January’s #OnFire article


There are only two players on our current roster who were with us ten years ago as Blaze swept the board with trophies – the Grand Slam season. With the Challenge Cup in the bag, the team had the confidence to go on and win both the league and the Play Off final.

Both Ashley Tait and Russ Cowley have played at least one season away from the Blaze in the past ten years – Russ had a spell in Cardiff with the Devils and Ash spent time in Sheffield with the Steelers and also in Italy.

They have fond memories of that season though, of the trophies, the goals and most importantly of all, of their team mates.

At that time, Tait was 29, in his third season with the Blaze following a long spell in Nottingham with the Panthers and was the Captain. Russ was 21 and in his fourth season, having spent some time in Swindon.

Tait explained how the team that year got on. “The Grand Slam season would have been my third year here. Obviously we’d gone from BNL (British National League) to the first year in the Elite League and it took us a year to figure out what it was about. I think it was the same for the club and Thommo. With the team he put together that year he knew where we needed to be. He found some guys who fit the bill and we gelled together quite early on, which makes a huge difference. I think when we started we were waiting on a couple of guys for the first couple of weeks. I ended up on a line with Chris McNamara and Joel Poirier. The lines didn’t really change all season – we had Adam Calder, Dan Carlson and Andre Payette and then Russ Cowley, Tommy Watkins and Graham Schlender. It was pretty well balanced, everyone had a role and knew what that was. It helped playing on the same lines, you get used to the way people play. It makes life a lot easier and becomes second nature. There were one or two disagreements – you get that one every team every year. Put twenty guys in a room not everyone is going to get along. As quickly as it starts it’s over and you move on.”
Cowley added “I was on the third line with Tommy and Schlender. I’d been playing professionally for four or five years at that point – it was fun.”

The first title that the team won that year was the Challenge Cup, but they didn’t make it easy for themselves. Ash explained, “I think that was quite a big thing. We did well in the first round, we knocked Nottingham out in the semis and once we’d got through that stage we thought ‘we’re in with a really good chance here’. I remember the first leg against Cardiff here and it ended up 6-1 and we went into the second leg with a really good lead. The old Cardiff rink was small and had a really good atmosphere. They went a couple of goals up quite quickly and it was a case of ‘we’ve got to start playing boys’. The game got quite feisty and some of the guys got kicked out. That was the first – we won that trophy and everyone thought ‘this is a really good feeling’ and it gave us a taste of what it was all about. I think that was quite a big step. Of the three trophies that’s the smallest one, but it was huge stepping stone for us as a team. It gave us the belief that we could do it.”
Russ added, “It was nuts. We threw away a lead, went 1-4 down and then got it back again to win 5-4. We went into their place with a four goal lead. You couldn’t have scripted it any better. That game had everything – fights, hits, goals. The atmosphere – the old Cardiff Rink was great, as was the Skydome back then, the atmosphere was amazing.”

The Play Off final took place in Nottingham, against the Panthers. Russ said, “My biggest memory from the play offs was Ash’s overtime goal, when it went in. We were at 1-1 with the goals scored in the second period. That was amazing, knowing we’d won the play offs and the treble, it was great. I think that’s everyone’s best memory of that game!”

For Russ, his best memories of the season are possibly the same as the majority of the fans. “Every single cup win, all three of them, it was amazing. We had a great group of guys and we had a lot of depth that year. It is fun when you are winning, but at the same time that group we had was great. There was an element of everything in that group, we all had a purpose and chemistry wise it all came together. It was incredible. I’m still in touch with most of the guys from that year.”
As for Ash, there can only be one highlight. “The best memory of that year was hands down scoring the winning goal in the play off final. To score against Nottingham, in Nottingham, I used to play there and I grew up in Nottingham. It’s still, probably, the highlight of my career.”

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Structure of the Earth

This half term we are mostly focussing on OCR Science Plus C8 – Restless Earth

To that end, we have so far done the following:

Modelled the layers of the Earth with four concentric paper circles. It was quite a challenge to stick one on top of the other centrally! We named the layers and learnt about their composition.

Modelled earthquakes causing tsunamis – using a tray of water to see the waves – tap gently to get small waves. Pick up one end of tray to show water ‘rushing out to sea’ and then drop to show a bigger wave coming back in. Don’t drop too hard or you’ll flood the lab (thanks J).

Used YouTube to see videos of earthquakes and their effects; tsunamis and their effects

We have talked about the plates of the Earth rubbing together to cause these earthquakes, and are aware earthquakes happen at the edges. (Still some work to do here!)

Most importantly, we are practising the new words that we are learning, so that we can use them appropriately.
Crust, Mantle, Core, Earthquake, Tsunami (salami? slimy?!), plates. Except the last, all of these are new words in the vocabulary of my students, and in order to ensure they have understood them, they need to learn to firstly say them and secondly use them appropriately. They are encouraged to repeat it (as I’ve mentioned before it can sound a bit like a gospel service in my lab at times) and then to use it when they give an answer. Hard work, long term, but we’ll get there.

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#100WCGU week #161 – Reflection

A late entry to this prompt for the 100 Word Challenge – “I want you to remember a good time, experience, meeting or event and share it with us in 100 words”

One of the highlights of 2014 was my trip to Norway. I was only able to go for just over a week, but I made the most of it.
Having flown into Oslo I stayed for the night before taking the train to Bergen. It takes best part of the day and the views from the window mean you really don’t need a book.
Through mountains, past lakes, built up areas, it really is a good way to see Norway.
When the train emerged from a tunnel to reveal a glacier up close the whole carriage gasped as they saw how beautiful it was.

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