Teaching Science

In Our Time: Mercury

In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the planet which is closest to our Sun. We see it as an evening or a morning star, close to where the Sun has just set or is about to rise, and observations of Mercury helped Copernicus understand that Earth and the other planets orbit the Sun, so displacing Earth from the centre of our system. In the 20th century, further observations of Mercury helped Einstein prove his general theory of relativity. For the last 50 years we have been sending missions there to reveal something of Mercury's secrets and how those relate to the wider universe, and the latest, BepiColombo, is out there in space now.

Linked in the grade 9 space unit.

In Our Time: Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the German physicist who, at the age of 23 and while still a student, effectively created quantum mechanics for which he later won the Nobel Prize. Werner Heisenberg made this breakthrough in a paper in 1925 when, rather than starting with an idea of where atomic particles were at any one time, he worked backwards from what he observed of atoms and their particles and the light they emitted, doing away with the idea of their continuous orbit of the nucleus and replacing this with equations. This was momentous and from this flowed what’s known as his Uncertainty Principle, the idea that, for example, you can accurately measure the position of an atomic particle or its momentum, but not both.

Linked in the grade 12 modern physics page.

Corrected minor error in Ionic Bonding Manipulatives

Corrected a minor error in the example of the Ionic Bonding Manipulatives file. Thanks to Garett Kutcher for spotting it.

Found in the grade 10 chemistry unit, if you want to download an updated version.

In Our Time: Hormones

In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss some of the chemical signals coursing through our bodies throughout our lives, produced in separate areas and spreading via the bloodstream. We call these 'hormones' and we produce more than 80 of them of which the best known are arguably oestrogen, testosterone, adrenalin, insulin and cortisol. On the whole hormones operate without us being immediately conscious of them as their goal is homeostasis, maintaining the levels of everything in the body as required without us having to think about them first. Their actions are vital for our health and wellbeing and influence many different aspects of the way our bodies work.

Linked in the grade 12 biology page.

In Our Time: Plankton

In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the tiny drifting organisms in the oceans that sustain the food chain for all the lifeforms in the water and so for the billions of people who, in turn, depend on the seas for their diet. In Earth's development, the plant-like ones among them, the phytoplankton, produced so much oxygen through photosynthesis that around half the oxygen we breathe today originated there. And each day as the sun rises, the animal ones, the zooplankton, sink to the depths of the seas to avoid predators in such density that they appear on ship sonars like a new seabed, only to rise again at night in the largest migration of life on this planet.

Linked in the grade 11 biology page.