To fend off the global warming crisis, we need to appeal to the hottest place on earth. The sun’s core is 10 million degrees, but in the Joint European Torus (JET) at Culham, the doughnut-shaped plasma in the reactor consistently reaches temperatures of over 100 million degrees to initiate nuclear fusion between hydrogen isotopes and release enormous quantities of energy. The hydrogen is sourced from seawater, and there are no harmful waste products. What is not to like? Unfortunately, it’s fiendishly difficult to achieve.
The Sixth Form physicists visited JET last week, for an inspiring tour and lectures. The scientists and engineers explained the current developments of this futuristic technology, which has come a long way since its inception in 1983, and has inspired the next generation of fusion reactors, driving the plasma science and fusion research. Ground-breaking and innovative engineering solutions are necessary for the magnetic containment, keeping the super-heated plasma just metres from the surrounding vacuum at almost zero, to harness this potentially limitless resource.
On 21 November, the 6.2 Product Design class visited Broanmain Ltd, a specialist technical plastics moulder. Broanmain is a family-owned company, which has been operating for over 60 years. They support a wide range of industries from aerospace, electronics and defence to the science sector and consumer goods.
After a presentation on how the injection moulding machines work, Broanmain’s Operations Director, Jo Davis, and Production Manager, Thomas Catinat, showed us around their factory.
Whilst the core of their business is focused on producing injection moulded polymer components, they are one of only 15 companies in the UK to operate specialist thermoset compressive moulding machines. The key difference with these to the usual thermoplastics is that the material is not re-mouldable, and is therefore non-recyclable.
Biologists in 6.1 travelled to the Apollo Theatre in London to hear a series of lectures by some of the country’s leading scientists as part of A Level Biology Live.
First was 2009 Nobel Prize winner and President of the Royal Society, Professor Sir Venki Ramakrishnan (pictured above), whose many scientific contributions include his work on the atomic structure of ribosomes. Ribosomes exist in their millions in every cell, and are the site where genetic information is read to synthesise proteins from amino acids. He began work on ribosomes in the late 1970s and eventually discovered their complex three-dimensional structure in 2000, with the aid of X-ray crystallography.
Next, Professor Robert Winston – who was the Bedales Eckersley Lecture speaker in 2013 – spoke about manipulating human reproduction, from his work in vitro fertilisation, through to regenerative medicine such as stem cell research and epigenetics, which may turn out to be the most important biological development in the years to come. However, he warned that manipulating the human will always be dangerous, uncertain and unpredictable.
It’s been a hands-on week in Classics classes this week. Block 4 students have been putting the finishing touches to their miniature triumphal arch (pictured above), which they made last week from the same sand and cement mix that was made to use the Pantheon and Colosseum in Rome. The class has been studying major monuments – from Stonehenge to the Romans – and this was an opportunity to try their hand at the Roman technique of making a mould and filling it. It seemed a fitting way of wrapping up this module of study before they produce their extended essays.
By Clare Jarmy, Head of Head of Able, Gifted & Talented, Oxbridge, Academic Scholars & PRE
Project-based learning is getting lots of attention at the moment, with films such as Most Likely to Succeed proving highly influential.
Such interdisciplinary, creative approaches are not new at Bedales, though. For nine years, Block 5 Philosophy, Religious Studies & Ethics (PRE) students have studied core topics in the philosophy of metaphysics and mind, and from that, have had to pick one area on which to build a creative response.
We do not stipulate what medium it must be, so students can play to their strengths. We have had many wonderful projects in the past, but for the first time this year, we made the exhibition open to parents and other students as well.
Sport BTEC Level 3 Diploma is set to be introduced in September 2020, extending the Sport department’s offer to Bedales’ Sixth Form students.
The course will provide an introduction to the sport and active leisure sector by developing a broad range of knowledge and skills in a variety of sport related areas. BTECs are made up of a number of units that have a practical focus with supporting knowledge and understanding that is assessed through ongoing coursework. This allows students to build their qualification in stages and take responsibility for their own learning by planning their work, completing research and reviewing their progress under the supervision of departmental staff.
From September 2020, students in 6.1 will be able to choose Music Technology as one of their A Level options.
Bedales has a rich tradition of students successfully following career paths into the music industry – from major label recording artists, instrumentalists and producers, to record label bosses, musical directors, music managers, A&R and sound engineers.
The Music Technology A Level course will teach students how great music is produced and give them the skills to create compelling music of their own. Delivered within Bedales’ successful and innovative Contemporary Music department, the course will provide the scope and framework for students to develop key skills and prepare them to work independently through personal and collaborative projects.