Year 12 & 13 Forensics

Year 12 and 13 Science BTEC students recently spent an away day studying cutting edge practical science with a vocational focus. The class visited Cornwall College campus at Cambourne where they were introduced to practical forensic science, using gas liquid chromatography to measure methanol in different vodka samples, as part of a mock murder scene. They then moved on to Falmouth Marine School where they looked at aquaponics and learnt about the mathematics associated with catch rates from trawler fishing. Altogether it was a fantastically useful insight into the application of science in the real world and students came away with a much better understanding of where their science studies could take them in the future.

Many thanks to Alex Jackson for organising the day.


Almost five hundred students from across the South West were involved in the National Science and Engineering Competition at the 2015 Big Bang South West. Tavistock College Design and Technology student Darcy Brown, aged 13, wowed the judges and picked up two fantastic awards in this high profile STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) event. Darcy was selected along with five A Level students from the school to represent their fantastic product design work on a regional stage at the event hosted by ‘Education Business Partnership – South West’ (EBP-SW) at Exeter University.

The sixth-formers, Emily Spry (who picked up two awards at the previous year’s event), Holly Speare, Will Dax and Ryan Arnold exhibited their beautiful A Level products, while Darcy was chosen from hundreds of other possibles to exhibit her ‘Crazy Camel’ game. The Crazy Camel has been developed by Darcy to be an interactive toy as well as a game and assembly kit which aims to develop making skills and creativity while being a really fun game to play with friends. Darcy produced a finished product, instruction manuals and an assembly kit version and presented her product to the judges with passion, enthusiasm and business acumen.

Organisers of the event commented: “The calibre of student work in the South West is breath taking. Our judges were overwhelmed by the quality of what they saw”. After a fantastic morning of exhibiting, the students took part in a science and technology master-class with a focus on rocket science and then the day came to its climax, the award ceremony. Darcy was stunned when she heard her name read out as a winner of the ‘Enterprising Young Devon award’ for the fantastic business enterprise element to her work. Soon after returning to her seat after the ordeal of having photos and handshakes in front of hundreds of onlookers, Darcy was announced as a regional winner of the Technology and Engineering Award and had won a place at the national finals which will take place at the NEC in March.

Yvonne Paddon (Partnership Adviser EBP-SW) said after the results: “I am absolutely delighted that the Crazy Camel won an Enterprising Young Devon award as not only was it innovative and creative, but also excellently presented, showing before and after assembly and the research process involved. I am looking forward to working both with Darcy, supporting her with a local business, and also with the school on a STEM enterprise day.”

Darcy commented: “I’m really excited and shocked to be given a chance to be in the National Big Bang Finals! I wasn’t expecting to win anything and to win two awards was fantastic. It was a great day and was an experience I definitely will not forget.”

As a result, Darcy has won a local business link that will be set up by EBP-SW which will help Darcy to further develop her product. Darcy has also won a free STEM enterprise day for Tavistock College and she has decided that this will focus on Year 7. Darcy will take a leadership role to help maximise its impact. Head of Technology at the college, Pete Keegan, commented: “We are incredibly proud of all the students who exhibited their work this year. It was great to see such talented students being celebrated. Darcy is a true asset to Technology at the college and we are delighted to have her as a role model to inspire others into Design and Technology.”

Big Bang 2015

STEM Enterprise Day

Year 10 students from Tavistock College took part in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) enterprise day last Tuesday.

Students formed small property companies which were asked to tender to purchase a prime site on which to build a new development on the outskirts of town. Students worked in groups containing a mixture of skills, allowing them to take on real world roles such as being a marketing director, architect, finance manager and project manager. The success of the teams depended on the appropriate allocation of jobs and sharing of their skill sets.

The students had a strict two and a quarter hour deadline to complete all their tasks on the property development challenge. This included a scale plan of the site, internal architect’s designs, newspaper advert, marketing ideas, tender letter and a series of finance calculations. Students were working under real time pressures and with people they wouldn’t normally work with as a result of the mixed nature of the groups. Another unique aspect of this challenge was the support provided by industry experts. Representatives from Cavanna Homes, The Met Office and the construction industry were all on hand to stimulate thoughts and question students on these real world tasks. Alongside this expert assistance, a group of Tavistock College 6th Form students helped to mentor some of the students.

At the end of the Challenge the 5 teams in each room had to present their work to the industry judges and peers with the winning team from each room going forward to the afternoon’s grand final. Not only did this day build on subject knowledge of Eco homes from Geography, marketing strategies from Business and technical drawing from Graphics, but more importantly it exposed students to a real life challenge. As a result teamwork, communication, time management and leadership skills were all developed – all skills and attributes that are vital to our 21st century learners as we prepare them for a workplace in the real world.

The College would like to thank Ralph James, Lynda Jones, Katie Russell and Chris Richards from the Met Office in Exeter, Martin Cavanna from Cavanna Homes, Gary Nichols from Optimise4 and independent consultant, Nigel Halford, for their support of this event, granting their time and expertise to all of the students involved.

Principal of Tavistock College, Helen Salmon, commented:
‘We were delighted to be working with a range of business partners for this important event. They gave generously of their time to help our young people to develop vital skills such as teamwork, planning, independent research and presentation skills.’

A Song of Ice and Fire

On Tuesday 25th November over 300 pupils from local primary schools joined us at Tavistock College to watch an exciting and engaging show called ‘Fire and Ice’ presented by the Science department.

Mr Smith and Mr Allen gave pupils the chance to see first-hand what happens when you cool a banana to -196 degrees Celsius and at what speed you can launch a methane rocket.

The show consisted of 2 parts: ice and fire. Pupils were shocked and excited to see a range of experiments which used liquid nitrogen, a very cold chemical, to freeze flowers, tennis balls and rubber – they could then be shattered with a hammer! Pupils even had the chance to eat quick-frozen ice cream: chocolate milk mixed with the liquid nitrogen.

The liquid nitrogen boiled at room temperature, giving the stage and audience a spooky feel.

Then came the fire – Mr Smith demonstrated what happens when metals burn in oxygen and this was followed with demonstrations of burning ethanol, coloured metal solutions and the Thermit reaction – so hot it can melt through cars!

Just when the audience thought they had seen enough, the duo went on to burn sweets – making jelly babies scream and angel delight fireballs!

The finale of the show was the most shocking and loud! Pupils made sure they covered their ears as Mr Smith lit balloons filled with hydrogen – a very explosive gas, followed with the pair firing rockets filled with methane.

By the end of the show all pupils were in agreement that they had had a great time, but also learnt some things about Science and reactions. Here’s to another great show next year!