by James Burry
On Friday 20th April 2018, some of DHS Year 9 students went to Worthing College for the annual Crack The Code challenge with STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math). As usual, the day was put on by Chichester University and STEM.
We started the day with a presentation from a woman who was a Nuclear Fusion Scientist. This was nothing to do with the day ahead but it was really interesting to hear her story on what she does her research on, it sounded very interesting as it was about helping us find an alternative to our current energy supplies. It also provided us with an insight into how even if you don’t think you will end up working in a STEM field at first, there are always options available to you if you later decide you want to-regardless of what you have done in the past. There were a lot of students there from school all around the area and we were paired up with Worthing School.
Our first task of the day was in the large dome shaped tent, we had to create the tallest towers that we could out of paper in teams with people from other schools. However we weren’t allowed to speak, so it was made a lot more difficult! The towers had to withstand the force of a bag vortex generator filled with smoke.
We were told that the ring of air that shoots out of the hole cut into the bin is actually a flat, rolling vortex of air. A vortex is generated because the air leaving the bin at the centre of the hole is traveling faster than the air leaving around the edge of the hole. Also known as a big bin with a large rubber end that the guy hit to push air out of the front. Our tower did very well as it was the tallest and took seven hits before falling down, not bad seeing as some others only lasted 1 blow.
After this we made our own mini vortex generators with a balloon and a plastic cup, filled them with smoke and got to make some smoke rings. These actually worked surprisingly well, and we could see the smoke rings clearly in the air, even though they were made out of very basic materials.
The next task involved a code cracking task, where we learnt how to use Caesar ciphers and keyword ciphers. We did this by using a green screen that made it seem as if the students were in the computer and actually cracking the code themselves.
It was interesting because it was a fun, new take on something we had done before. The teacher running the task got students to sit in front of a green screen and we had to help release the students by decoding the code.
After the computing session we then went to the science section where we learned about DNA and how different problems in health can be passed down from generation to generation because of a concept called ‘dominant alleles’, where a more dominant gene is passed down over another. We have already covered genes and chromosomes in out lessons at DHS so we were able to answer quite a lot of the questions asked, the teacher seemed very impressed with our knowledge.
We looked into how DNA was tested for genetic defects such as huntington’s disease and then had the chance to do some testing ourselves. We were shown what do first by the students from the College and University and then got to try it ourselves. We also learnt how to read some of the DNA sequencing, and what it meant-this was the ‘Cracking the Code bit’.
Lunch was had outside, one of our students bought food from the canteen which had some very nice food on offer at reasonable prices. One thing noticed on the field was the lack of seagulls, at Durrington they are all over the place, Worthing College had 2.
After lunch we had the Math session. We looked into codes that were used from as far back as Roman times (such as ‘pig’ code and Caesar shifters) and had a go at breaking the codes. We then looked at the enigma code from world war two and created our own machine with the aid of some printed numbers and lines on a paper and a Pringles tube. We knew a lot about this subject as well, probably due to the Rock Challenge were they covered this subject last year.
Creating an enigma machine is quite easy with the sheets and it is very effective, we made it with 3 wheels and 1 reflector but there are usually 5 wheels and 2 reflectors. Since we were the last group to do this activity, we were allowed to keep our homemade enigma machines, which some of the students did.
The end of the day finished with some prize giving and then a photo of everyone outside with the use of a drone, as it flew high above us we waved. Mr Paul seemed disproportionality excited about the photo with a drone and waved a lot. The Crack The Code challenge was a lot of fun and we learned a lot in all four subjects we had through the day, we would all love to have the chance to do it again.