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Bacteria Safari: Forest on your Fingernail
Wednesday 17th Oct 2018, 09.00am

Bacteria Safari: The Forest on your Fingernail

What on Earth can tiny microorganisms tell us about the animal and plant life around us? Bacteria are tiny organisms that exist everywhere; including on us! Watch this animation...

Researchers at the University of Oxford are study how bacteria live together, interact or compete, and hope to test theories about how much larger species interact. In these resources, inspired by this research, students devise a method to test whether the microorganisms in probiotics make it to the stomach alive (KS3), looks at how antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria develop (KS4), research what drives competitions or cooperation in animals (KS4), and read a research paper to consider evidence around how the microbiome can effect mood (KS5).
KS3 - Beneficial Bacteria
KS4 - Alternative Antibiotics
KS4 - Cooperate or Compete
KS5 - Gut Feeling
Probiotics contain species of these bacteria but do they actually work to increase their population in our intestines? This activity is suitable for extending the more able students. They plan an investigation to collect evidence before evaluating how valid their data would be.
In this activity students use a model to understand how antibiotic resistant bacteria develop and then investigate a possible solution.
Some groups of organisms live in harmony, sharing and helping each other. Whilst others fight for their share of resources – what drives organisms to cooperate or compete?In this lesson students find out why the work of microbiologists at The University of Oxford is helping to answer this question. This lesson is best used after students have studied competition between organisms. The main activity can be carried out for homework.
In this activity students read an extract from a paper written by microbiologists and The University of Oxford to understand how bacteria can influence our thoughts and feelings – are they trying to manipulate their hosts for their own benefit or is this simply a side-effect?
protecting elephants, protecting humans
Monday 8th Oct 2018, 09.00am

Protecting elephants, protecting humans

How do we find ways for people and wildlife to co-exist? Elephants pose a particular problem as their large size means they need to roam over large areas to find food, water and refuge.

The Mali elephants might provide some clues.

Researchers have been studying elephants and humans in Mali to understand they can adapt to each other in mutually beneficial ways. In these resources, students think about how adaptation applies to extinction or co-existence (KS3), explore the differences between biotic and abiotic factors (KS4), model population growth and changes (KS5) and apply their knowledge about ecosystems to describe the case study of elephants in Mali (KS5).
KS3 - Adapt or extinct?
KS4 - Abiotic or biotic?
KS5 - Changing a population
KS5 - Inside the ecosystem
Learning Outcomes: 1. Recap ecosystem knowledge and describe common resources that organisms compete for 2. Determine how organisms can adapt, particularly to their environment 3. Apply adaptation to extinction and co-existence
Learning Outcomes 1. List abiotic and biotic factors and describe their difference 2. Apply biotic factors and competition knowledge to elephants in Mali 3. Describe stable and unstable populations
Learning Outcomes 1. Describe what determines a population size 2. Graph a changing population and calculate the rate of change 3. Compare and contrast intraspecific competition and interspecific competition
Learning Outcomes 1. Define the terms abiotic and biotic, referencing the biosphere 2. Explain what an ecosystem is and apply it to elephants in Mali 3. Describe the population, community and habitat of elephants in Mali
Discovering Life-Changing Dementia Treatments
Monday 3rd Sep 2018, 12.00pm

Discovering life-changing dementia treatments

Your beautiful, complex brain is a network of microscopic cells that connect together to form your thoughts and personality, and control your body. The network is fragile and requires constant upkeep, like a garden. The brain has its own gardeners, specialised cells called microglia. In this...

Researchers at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ARUK ODDI) at the University of Oxford are working collaboratively with other centres around the country to study the role of proteins and cells in the brain, and develop drugs to treat AD. In these resources, inspired by their research, students apply what they know to assess a new Alzheimer's drug (KS4, and use new information in KS5), assess evidence of Alzheimer's risk-factors using a science reliability checklist (KS4), and look at family trees to explore the genetics of Alzheimer's (KS5).
KS4 - Drug Discovery
KS4 - Mythbusting Alzheimer's
KS5 - Genetics of Alzheimer's
KS5 - Plaques and Tangles
This activity extends students’ understanding of the nervous and immune systems and monoclonal antibodies. It asks them to apply their knowledge to an unfamiliar situation – the mechanism of a new drug for AD.
In this activity students are presented with three different claims about possible risk factors for AD. They have to critique the evidence in order to decide which risk factors are more likely.
Many people who have relatives with AD are worried that they will also develop the disease – but is AD inherited? In this activity students will explore this question by studying family trees, drawing genetic crosses and interpreting information about genes and alleles.
In this activity students are presented with a possible idea for treatment. They study the mechanisms behind the development of AD in order to critique the idea, before developing their own.
Tuesday 17th Jul 2018, 11.30am

Ancient Mysteries in Marvellous Mud

It took over a billion years for life to transition from simple eukaryotic cells, like primitive algae, to simple animals like sponges or jellyfish. But, why did it take such a long time?

Researchers at the University of Oxford studying ancient Australian mudstone have found evidence that is helping entirely reshape our picture of evolution and how the Earth developed. In these resources students will undertake a range of practical activities to investigate properties of mud and how pH affects living things (KS3), look at geological timescales (KS4), and learn about how X Rays can be used to identify signs of life on other planets (KS4) and spotting the first signs of life here on Earth (KS5).
KS3 - Evolution Detectives
KS4 - A Geological Blink
KS4 - Fingerprinting Mars Mud
KS5 - Fingerprinting First Life
In this lesson, students will be making and studying the properties of their own mud using pH experiments. They will be thinking about how pH affects microbes, and the ways that mudstones form, erode and break down. They will look at water, earth and air as they explore the science of evolution and wonder about how to identify traces of early life on Mars.
In this lesson, students will be coming to grips with the geological timescale of the Earth, of life on Earth, and of human history. They will be exploring the colourful history that explains how scientists can detect the colours of creatures long dead, and identify hints of early microbial life interacting with the atmosphere and lithosphere.
In this lesson, students will be exploring x-ray diffraction, the analytical technique used by scientists to explore the underlying structures of muds and comparing them to their own observations. Their detective skills will come in useful when samples gathered by rovers on Mars are compared to samples from Earth’s history. Astrobiologists hope to detect traces of minerals that could be “fingerprints” of early life. This lesson is better suited to higher ability classes.
In this lesson, students will be exploring x-ray diffraction, the analytical technique used by scientists to explore the underlying atomic structures of minerals, isotopic dating, and using microscopes to image microstructure.
Materials for nuclear fusion: how do you confine a sun to a box?
Friday 18th May 2018, 03.30pm

Materials for nuclear fusion: how do you confine a sun to a box?

We face an energy crisis, so the idea of a clean, potentially limitless supply of energy is deeply appealing. Nuclear fusion, the same source of energy that makes the sun shine, could provide the answer, but there are some big obstacles to overcome. 

Researchers at the University of Oxford are investigating how different materials are affected by exposure to radiation inside nuclear fusion reactors, with the hope of being able to design better materials that will be able to resist radiation's damaging effects. These resources take inspiration from their work, allowing students to: explore some of the current methods for generating electricity and explore the basic ideas of nuclear fusion (KS3), explore the energy contained within every day objects using the famous equation, E=mc2 (KS4), learn how radiation is measured, and what a half-life is (KS4), and undertake calculations to discover the potential energy generated from fusion power (KS5)
KS3 - Star Power
KS4 - Fission and Fusion
KS4 - Too Hot to Handle
KS5 - Fusion
In this lesson, students explore some of the current methods for generating electricity and explore the basic ideas of nuclear fusion.
In this lesson students explore the famous equation E=mc2 and work out the equivalent energy ‘stored’ in everyday objects. They also look at the basics of nuclear fission and fusion and how nuclear weapons use both of these.
This lesson looks at how we measure radioactivity and how to calculate the half-life of radioactive materials.
In this lesson students learn more about nuclear fusion and undertake calculations to discover the energy potential of the method, as well as the challenges.
Thursday 22nd Mar 2018, 09.00am

How does electricity flow through small objects?

Single molecules are small – really small! But what if we could harness some of their abilities to conduct and control electricity to create new electronic components? Researchers at the University of Oxford are investigating just this to find more energy efficient ways to transfer information....

Researchers at the University of Oxford are investigating what happens to electricity as it flows through tiny, molecular-scale objects. Understanding this will be the foundation for developing new, tiny electronic components for a range of devices. In these resources students will get to grips with SI units for very big and very small numbers (KS3), learn about graphene and other allotropes of carbon (KS4), are introduced to logic gates and truth tables (KS4), and write a news story about the recent discovery of gravitation waves (KS5)
KS3 - What is nanoscale?
KS4 - Carbon Copy
KS4 - Logically Speaking
KS5 - Wave Machine
In this lesson students explore some of the reasons why scientists use SI units and become more familiar with the SI units for very small objects, particularly nanometres.
. In this lesson students find out more about the allotropes and, in particular, the allotropes of carbon by building models.
In this activity students learn about the development of electronic components through history and learn about logic gates from their diagrams and truth tables.
In this lesson students look at some of the other uses of interference (of light waves) and prepare a ‘news item’ about the recent discovery of gravitational waves.