Mission impossible - science challenges

Peter Johnson 

Peebles: Kitchen chemistry 2006 | £95.00 | 

Reviewed by Lisa Duffin

An agent looking at top secret papers

Source: Danomyte/Shutterstock

For those seeking something to enthuse students after exams or to encourage them to think, this activity pack is a real winner. It comes as a folder outlining 11 challenges (called 'missions'), each with instructions for both teacher and technician, risk assessments, and a CD-ROM with PowerPoint messages that explode in seconds to engage pupils' imagination. Included are hint sheets for pupils struggling to know where to start and a certificate for successful 'agents'.  

Some of the experiments may not be new to teachers or pupils, such as extracting DNA from plant tissue. The challenges become increasingly difficult and could be made suitable for KS2-4. The author advises that these challenges are most useful when there is time for repetition, allowing pupils to learn from their mistakes. Completing each activity would therefore require between two-five hours. This makes them less suitable for a science club investigation but excellent for pupils left in school during trips, or for altering pace and focus between modules.  

The last four activities probably will be new to you. They are Keep your cool (identifying endothermic reactions to stabilise a highly explosive liquid), Gone in 60 seconds (designing a fuse that will burn for exactly one minute), Foam fire extinguisher (putting out the fire that has just been started), and the final challenge is Getaway car. These challenges should appeal to Year 9 students and above.  

Some of the more complicated experiments would require a budget, for example the Getaway car requires electric motors powered by solar cells; details of how to obtain these are supplied. Overall, this activity pack is worth buying to use as shared resource in the science department. 

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