Science and Computing

The Other Half provides boys with the time to explore aspects of science and computing beyond the academic curriculum and to develop interests or to discover something new. The activities and clubs available range from  entomology to running science clubs for primary school children.

Listed below are just a few examples.

This is an opportunity for anyone from 3rd year upwards to learn about Astronomy in more detail and to enter for the GCSE exam in the subject if they wish. It is being run through the Abingdon Science Partnership and a number of pupils from other, local schools are also following the course. New pupils should speak to Mr Thomas before joining to discuss practical details of taking the GCSE qualification.

Lectures are organised to support work being done in the Biology specification, to extend knowledge of the specification and to give boys an up to date account of current advances in modern biology. Some lectures may also have a more general “Natural History” theme and be open to Middle School Pupils as well.

Some pupils can also be given the opportunity to carry out more open-ended practical investigations, workshops or other experiments. Dissections and moth trapping are some of the activities that have happened recently. Subject extension sessions also take place to expand on the content of the course.

As part of the entomology club boys have the opportunity to learn about and study insects. Boys are able to follow their own interests within the club with some rearing preying mantises while others breed moths and butterflies. Boys take charge of their insects and are responsible for feeding them and maintaining their environment. 

Think geology is the study of rocks? You're right. The good news is, rocks are fascinating! The geology club is for anyone in the school from 1st year up who wants to learn more about our planet in a fun way. Geology is a very practical subject and we do lots of experiments and investigations. For those who are dead keen there is the option of pursuing it as an additional GCSE.

Lower School Science Club is an opportunity for boys to partake in science projects and experiments outside of the curriculum. The boys will have a chance to extend their science knowledge in a fun, hands-on environment.

An opportunity for 5th Year and L6 Science Ambassadors to help run a weekly science club for children from local primary schools. 

An opportunity for students to experience hands-on science outside of the syllabus.

For students who want to explore and share their enthusiasm for science by learning skills to inform, inspire and raise awareness of science-related topics. Opportunities range from science busking and being involved in the ATOM Festival of Science and Technology, to science journalism and developing a publication to celebrate science at Abingdon, as well as regular talks and workshops from inspiring science communication professionals.

If you expect excitement, explosions and sound-byte science then these are not the clubs for you! However, if you want to learn real research skills; develop deeper understanding and see what it really takes to be a research scientist, then join Science Factor.

Research projects may be part of external programmes organised through the Abingdon Science Partnership and the Institute for Research in Schools, or they may be based on your own, individual ideas and interests. Examples of ongoing projects include the CERN@School energy to matter photonics project in Physics; ‘Ionic Liquids’ in Chemistry and ‘Genome Decoders’ in Biology, but if you have your own ideas, discuss them with us and we’ll try to help.

There are many opportunities to volunteer as a Science Ambassador for the Abingdon Science Partnership, including primary school science workshops; Science Oxford Saturday Science Clubs; Scout and Guide Science Badge evenings and the Abingdon ATOM Festival of Science and Technology. 

Contact our Senior Science Ambassador alasdair.czaplewski@abingdon.org.uk to put your name on the list of volunteers and get the latest information on events.

Members of the Wildlife Club will take part in outdoor conservation projects for OPAL, RSPB and other organisations. Indoor meetings include presentations and discussions about conservation and wildlife related topics. Whilst learning about wildlife and habitats, students will have the opportunity to practice their creative writing, public speaking and GIS skills. 

This is an opportunity for pupils from any year to learn some science writing skills and to pursue a writing project on a topic of their own choice. Abingdon Science Partnership is affiliated to the Young Scientists Journal which gives the opportunity for finished articles to be published online and possibly in the hard copy edition.

XFMDPNF UP DPEFCSFBLJOH DMVC - Codebreaking Club takes place weekly and teams will be preparing for and taking part in the National Cipher Challenge. This is an annual competition for students across the country to crack ever more complicated ciphers, including simple Caesar Shift Ciphers, Vignere Ciphers and beyond. If you like solving puzzles and reading secret messages then come along - programming and IT skills are a bonus but not necessary.

The Computer Programming activity is intended to provide hands-on experience of the nitty-gritty of computer programming. We use a range of modern programming languages, and develop projects using hardware on which they run. Practical tasks will be undertaken in a dedicated programming environment using the latest interpreted object-oriented languages and application development frameworks. 

We support a mixture of students' own projects and guided investigations into areas covering software, computer science/algorithms and electronics interfacing using Raspberry Pi and Arduino platforms. Examples include smartphone games/apps, real time image capture and processing and even an automatic sudoku solver.  

No previous experience is necessary, but an aptitude for logical and analytical thought will be essential. Projects typically run over half a term and are aimed to support the most enthusiastic coders down to those just starting. There is a particular focus on showing students techniques that will help them after Abingdon, be that at University or in the workplace. 

Electronics Club provides an opportunity to learn how to design and build simple electronic devices. The emphasis is on experimenting and learning rather than copying existing designs. Past projects range from reaction games, to light sensitive musical instruments. Programmable microcontrollers are also available for more adventurous tasks such as robotics. No experience is necessary but eagerness to learn is essential.

Python is now the computing language of choice for many scientists including Biologists, Chemists and Physicists. One thing that it is used for is to visualise data sets, varying from population data to the variation of physical systems. This introductory course will use the extensive libraries of programmes available online to learn more about how scientists visualise and study their data.

A fun introduction to computer programming. Hands on sessions: writing your own programs; using different programming languages and packages; making graphical pictures, games and animations.

Lower School Lego Mindstorms Club combines programming and engineering/design techniques. Using the Lego Mindstorms technical lego pieces different robots are created and brought to life by using a programmable brick which takes control of its movements. A variety of tasks are set through the year, to stretch and challenge builders to develop their ability to program and problem solve within the Lego Mindstorms environment.

Working with Lego Mindstorms robots, Robotics Club combines programming and engineering techniques. Building different models and machines using technical Lego, they are brought to life by using a programmable brick which takes control of its movements. A variety of tasks are set through the year, to stretch and challenge builders to develop their ability to program, within the Lego Mindstorms environment.

With the help of ASPA we have the HTC Vive Pro Virtual Reality available for use by boys on Monday afternoons. In the first half of the Michaelmas Term we will be encouraging boys to try the kit and experience VR. Boys can then contribute to the future direction of our study of this important technology at school. After half term we will be designing and building a visual display box to house the VR computer.