On Thursday 14th March, during session 2, we held The BIG Lesson – the first collaboration between the science faculties of the three secondary schools in the Alban Academies Trust: Sandringham, Verulam and Ridgeway. Broadcasting live via YouTube from the Sandpit Theatre to students in years 7 to 12 in all three schools simultaneously, approximately equating to 3000 students, must be a new World Record!  While the lesson had a science focus the technology involved in getting the lesson to be filmed in real time and streamed via the internet to all the classrooms in three separate schools was significant and a lesson in itself for any student interested in STEM.

Mr Lee from Sandringham, Mr Knowles from Verulam and Dr Hercus from Ridgeway became our local celebrities and put on a science lesson based on the theme of the 150th anniversary of Mendeleev’s periodic table. The lesson began at 10am with a live stream demonstration by Mr Lee of igniting hydrogen and oxygen balloons, to show the difference between the two gases. This was followed by a similar and more explosive Hydrogen and Oxygen mixed balloon. The lesson then went to home schools for students to produce their own periodic table from memory.

Next came Mr Knowles on live stream conducting a demonstration of the Group 1 Alkali metals. This demonstration highlighted the similarities and the trends in properties that the groups on the periodic table have. In classrooms students then completed tasks to allow them to explore the properties of elements.

We re-joined the live stream once more to see Dr Hercus give a flame test demonstration of the transition metals with an explanation of the position of electrons in each element and the reasons why copper burns with a blue-green flame and lithium a lilac flame.

The lesson was a huge success. Those privileged enough to walk the corridors in all three schools commented on how strange it felt to see exactly the same learning in every classroom at exactly the same time.  The buzz from students was tremendous and instilled a great deal of pride in the three schools.

The Science teams are looking forward to collaborating more in the future and are all very excited about the Science Week project for next year!


Mr Lee, Dr Hercus and Mr Knowles