Fantastic Frogs and Physics!

What do you get if you cross The Manchester Museums live animal collection with the Institute of Photon Sciences at The University of Manchester?

Why our Frogs and Physics A-Level Study day of course!!

During November, we ran two Frogs and Physics A-Level Study days for lucky students from Salford City College and Blue Coat School, Oldham.  Working in collaboration with Andrew Gray, Curator of herpetology at The Manchester Museum and Mark Dickenson, Senior lecture at The Institute of Photon Science, we had further developed the itinerary and content following a successful trial last year to ensure that that it would be a truly memorable and educational experience for the students.

The morning was spent in The Manchester Museum with myself, Andrew and Mark giving talks that gave the students an opportunity to understand the background, applications and the physics to the practical that they would be doing in the afternoon.  They were also able to get up close with some stars of the museums frog collection and see some fantastic specimens.

After lunch, the students headed over to the research laboratories in the Institute of Photon Science to have the chance to explore how to use specific pieces of equipment that are used for analysis of frogs but also in different scientific areas.  To find out why they are used and explore the different applications of the equipment.  Just being in the physics research lab is an experience in itself as it’s like nowhere else!

The students learnt how to use a thermal imaging camera and understand the physics behind it.  They used it to investigate the thermoregulation of a variety of different live animals as well as carrying out a few different experiments to explore the possible uses of the camera.  A reflection spectrometer was also used to collect data on Infra-red reflectance patterns of live frogs.  This data can be used to identify which frogs carry an important pigment and determine what that means for their habitat and environment.  In addition, students explored uses of NIR (night vision) camcorders will be used to compare different live frogs by their NIR reflection and understood how it works. 

Andrew finished the day off by a short talk about his field research, his adventures in the rainforest and the students had the opportunity to ask questions that may have arisen during the day.

Overall, the Frogs and Physics was a huge success with the student’s enthusiasm and excitement throughout the day being clear to see.  Here are some comments from both students and teachers that attended:

“An excellent day! Students spell bound! Definatly be back!” Teacher

“It was the best trip I have been on with students in 15 years of teaching!” Teacher

“Getting to meet the experts was great.  It was a great insight into their jobs and what it’s like to be scientists!” Student

“Enjoyed the day.  Everyone was friendly. I learnt alot!” Student

“ I enjoyed the whole day.  It was interesting and educating.  I’d like to do it again”

 It was great fun to be involved in and i hope the students were buzzing as much i was at the end of the day!  Finally, I’d like to say a huge thank you to both Andrew and Mark, along with the PhD student helpers for their contribution and making the day such a huge success.  I look forward to running it again sometime next year!

If you are interested in attending the Frogs and Physics A-Level Study day that we hope to hold next year, please do get in touch alexa.jeanes@manchester.ac.uk.

Some photos are below of the students taking part in Frogs and Physics:

 For more photos and read Andrew take on the day, have a look at Frog Blog Manchester at:

http://frogblogmanchester.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/frogs-and-physics-2/

http://frogblogmanchester.wordpress.com/undergraduate-teaching/salford-city-college/

http://frogblogmanchester.wordpress.com/undergraduate-teaching/blue-coat-school-oldham/

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