Resources for Teachers

Page hero image

Latest Post : The Bedrock of Newcastle

New ‘Power to the People’ science show by Museum Express

The city of Newcastle is built on coal.  Literally and figuratively – seams of coal can still be seen in the cliffs at Susan Gilmore Beach and Burwood Beach; ships sail 500,000 tonnes of coal out past Nobbys Beach every day to generate electricity around the planet.  To learn about the science of power and this key ‘Future Earth’ technology, book Museum Express’ new show “Power to the People” to come out to your classroom today.

The average Australian burns a footy-sized lump of coal every day. Photo: Anthony Watts

The average reader of this blog will burn a footy-sized lump of coal for their home electricity use today.  If you’re reading this in NSW, a good chunk of that coal will come from the Hunter. Coal is taken to a power station, burnt to heat a massive boiler full of water - turning it into steam - which rises through a turbine spinning massive magnets that spin inside coils of copper wire connected to the transmission lines that power everything electrical, including the computers that you’re reading this on.

Transmission lines at Liddell Power Station, Hunter Valley. Photo: Wikicommons

Newcastle Museum’s brand new show, Power to the People, amps up the science of electricity and connects it at 240 volts with this year’s National Science Week theme: “Future Earth”.  This show links with the Academy of Science’s Primary Connections modules of 'Essential Energy' and 'Circuits and Switches' as well as the NSW and Australian Science Curriculums.

Electricity is a hot topic. Bills are rising every year, recent blackouts have occurred in South Australia with more predicted, and Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, has written a review of Australian Electricity that’s kept the generation of electricity in the media.  With one in seven Australian homes already having solar panels on their roofs maybe we have some solutions to these problems.

One in seven homes in NSW have solar panels on them. Photo: NSW Govt.

Newcastle Museum’s new show “Power to the People” distils the science of electricity into an entertaining lesson for your Stage 2 and 3 classrooms. The show commences with a pop quiz about what uses the most electricity – charging a phone, watching television for an hour, or baking a cake in an electric oven? It demonstrates the Conservation of Energy with bouncing balls and a spring loaded car, before burning up some gas, coal, ethanol and propane.   A wind-turbine is whirred and a solar car raced against a turtle, and the show finishing with an energy version of its own game show, including prizes for the winner.  

More wind power was installed in 2017 worldwide than any other electricity type


Pasha Bulker at Nobby's Beach

Post: Creative science ideas for your classroom

The video below has a 'Slime' recipe you can make in class with PVA glue and a Borax and water solution. You can also substitute PVA glue with Guar Gum or another starch. I'd also add some colour to the slime. What's interesting is the addition of iron filings at the end to make the slime magnetic. This provides both a great slime recipe and a means of introducing the use of predicting outcomes with the iron filings. The students can also vary the amount of iron filings and measure the different levels of magnetism. And it's fun!

See How to Make Magnetic Slime Video

Post: Poetry in Motion

With a belly full of mudflat crabs and a side serving of ants, the bar-tailed Godwit can fly 11,000 kms in nine days. It's the longest non-stop animal flight on earth. Australia is lucky enough to have flocks of them land on our shores during winter.

The magic is conveyed in the  Circle exhibition of Jeannie Baker's newest book which is being travelled around the world by Newcastle Museum – exploring the Godwit's magical flight around the world. You should check it out.

Alongside Circle it is  'Poetry in Motion' – a new show by Museum Express about MiniME the Lego man who tries to control the four forces of flight to fly like Akiak (an Inuit name for 'across the sea') the Godwit.

It's a tough gig. Flying is a trial-and-error experiment and MiniME has a lot to learn. To this day, engineers aren't really sure if a newly designed plane will fly as it's supposed to. It's why test pilots get paid so much.

The Poetry in Motion show explores the science of flight with helium balloons, ethanol and little explosions, but the same can be done in classrooms with simpler stuff.

Balloon copters and rocket-balloons demonstrate the power of lift and thrust, and the ageless science of paper planes was being showcased this Spring with Australia's Biggest Paper Plane Competition held in conjunction with the Science Teachers Association of NSW (STANSW) every year. ABC Splash has a bunch of resources for interested teachers, including tips on making the best-ever-paper-planes.

If you're keen to take flight to the next level, add thrust with a 2L coke bottle and a bike-pump rocket. They provide an explosive base for a massive range of physics/ engineering experiments: optimum angle and water volume, pressure achieved, distance achieved – it's a delectable degustation of concepts to test and measure and explore...

But the STEM feast doesn't stop there – Akiak links with the Australian and BOSTES curriculum across most of the overarching ideas. Patterns of movement across the earth, life-cycles of living things, adaptation to the environment are all themes that are told through the Godwit story.

Once you've finished soaring the curriculum you can always serve up your science with some crunchy ants and boiled crabs – it's the 5 and 9 diet – guaranteed to get your class flying through the term.
Poetry in Motion, right here in Newcastle.

Further Links