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The science behind the nose

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Information retrieval
Topic: Light

Red Nose Day is coming! This activity focuses on red – why do things look red? Why are red noses shiny? More than half of Red Nose Day funds end up in Africa, so this activity also highlights some of the science happening across the continent – from armyworm killers to metals for mobiles; from satellites to methane-rich lakes. Students can plan (and give!) an assembly based on the Science Behind the Nose, or use the information and explanations to prepare a TV programme.

Published: 2nd March 2005
Reviews & Comments: 6

Learning objectives

Students will reinforce their understanding of why things appear coloured and why things look shiny or dull. They will also remind themselves what happens when solids dissolve in water.
Students will know about some of the science happening in Africa.

Try the activity


You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

8k light – explain the origin of colour in the dispersion of white light; give an example of how colour is important in everyday life; describe how light is reflected at plane surfaces
7h solutions – use the particle model to explain what happens when solids dissolve in water

Running the activity

Suggested time: 20 minutes.

Possible starter:
Ask students if they can explain why red noses look red.

Main activity:
Show page 1 – either projected or as an OHT. The page poses five questions – four based on the colour red; one about science in Africa. Put students into groups. Ask them to use the information on pages 2 and 3 to work out answers to the questions on page 1. Alternatively, ask each group to work out the answer to one question. Groups can then plan an assembly or TV programme to present their answers in a fun and engaging way.

The information on page 2 does not directly answer the questions – students will need to process the information and apply it to different situations. Page 3 describes several African science initiatives – from Tanzania, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and South Africa. You could ask students to find out more about each of these initiatives using the weblinks below.


Plenary:
Ask some of the groups to present their assemblies or TV programmes to the rest of the class.

News links

Red Nose Day 2005
This is the official Red Nose Day site. It has lots of suggestions for the day, as well as (non-science) lesson plans
Cell phone news
This site summarises the story about coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It highlights the some controversial and challenging issues in a reasonably accessible way.
New Scientist
This article tells the 'armyworm killer' story in more detail.
New Scientist
Read this article for more about the plans to use methane from Lake Kivu to generate electricity.
New Scientist
This tells the story of Nigeriasat-1, and emphasises the controversial nature of the project.
The Guardian
This fascinating article tells how two men transplanted the first human heart – the famous (white) Christian Barnard and his black colleague Hamilton Naki, who had to pretend to be a gardener.

Reviews & Comments

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