16 May 2024

Year 5 Science Enthusiasts take on the Science Challenge

On Friday 26 April, four of our Year 5 pupils were invited to participate in the Merchant Taylors’ School Science Challenge. The aim was to encourage the young Science enthusiasts to stretch their abilities, problem-solve and learn across all three Sciences – Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

Well done to Sebastian, Alex, Shiven and Aadam for representing the School and working together to impressively complete all the experiments. They have kindly written their experiences of the day to share with us:


I had an amazing time at the Merchant Taylors’ Science Competition. We had three different challenges and were one of nine schools that competed in the competition. Our first challenge was Physics, where we had to make an electromagnet using wires and a pulley system. After that, we had a short break and were provided with some refreshments. Our rest wasn’t long, and we dashed to our next task, Biology. In this task, we had to find whether a substance was Acidic or Alkaline using Red Cabbage. It took a lot of work, but we managed to do it. To celebrate our first two tasks, we sprinted down to lunch, then rode to our last challenge in the Chemistry lab. Over here we had to create carbon dioxide using marble chips and hydrochloric acid. It was super fun and I thought it was the best challenge of the day. After a long day, we finally went to the break room to find out about the results and to celebrate our achievements. When we eventually got to school, we told our friends all about our adventure. 


Our team of four boys participated in a Physics Challenge. We made an electromagnet strong enough to pick up a toy car. The process we followed was to cut some wire off of a coil, strip some of the wire, and remove the plastic casing, exposing the copper. Next, we attached the copper to crocodile clips in order for a circuit to be formed. We attached the clips to a battery on one end while wrapping the middle of the wire around an iron cylinder, after which time we tested whether the magnet was strong enough to pick up the car. Our first attempt was with one turn; however, we needed 30 turns of wire for it to work. Next, we made a bridge using a metre of cello tape, 10 pieces of newspaper and 300 grams of weight. It was strong enough to hold the toy car. We constructed the bridge by rolling up the newspaper and cello taping it to other pieces of paper.


In the Biology experiment the indicator was red cabbage pigment, it would tell if the substance we added to the red cabbage pigment was an alkali, acid or neutral by comparing it to the pH scale. In the experiment, we used many items found in a typical household, for example, limescale remover. After you did the main part of the experiment you would do a second part in which you would answer questions about acids and alkali. Lots of colours were produced.


So it came to the final challenge. After lunch, all four of us walked into the chemistry room, focused, fizzing, and buzzing with excitement. We were safe in the knowledge that we had what it took to face the toughest challenge yet and emerge victorious! Kicking things off, two chemistry teachers explained the challenge. We needed to use marble chips of three different sizes (large, medium and small) and put them in 30cm of hydrochloric acid. Our objective was to capture the carbon dioxide released. We would stop catching the gas when the gas meter reached a certain point. We had to use the three different types of marble chips three times each and record the average time taken to reach the gas meter’s limit. The experiment was to see which type of marble chips reached the gas meter’s limit the fastest.

We all understood the challenge and got to work after writing our hypothesis. The first time we did it, it went smoothly, but we knew we had to do it eight more times! Incoming brainwave! We decided to split into two groups. This was successful, and we started to track ahead of the other schools. After writing our conclusion, we answered the questions on the worksheet and finished with ten minutes to spare. All we could do now was wait to see if we were victorious…