1st September 2019 and it is the canal festival, which started as Cops on the Canal. It was potentially our 8th visit, but we missed a few, especially last year as we were trapped at the Kelpies. The Police part of the festival is really growing and this year I took some photos in the vans and photos of the speed cameras, now working with laser pulses.
Thanks to all the Police who shared information and their experiences, although I am not sure giving out certificates for the kids saying “I outran the Police” is sending the right image to all those potential criminals!
We might be using playmats, but some of the students appear to have poor road habits already ingrained as you can see in this video taken by two students in S2 who are currently completing the Road Safety 1 topic. We are looking at speed, distance, time, calculations, using calculators, and laying out questions correctly.
Thanks to Pete Monteith of Police Scotland a.k.a. Calculator Pete (as he still has his calculator from school, and in those days there was no direct algebraic logic) for these updated pdf files of the plans. He’s done so much behind the scenes for this project and so many people owe him so much. THANKS from Mrs Physics (who chucked out her school calculator last year as it was never used)
In 2018 I had the privilege of presenting our work at the Scottish Parliament.
I am a little out of date, so ought to spend sometime catching up on where we’ve been with our Road Safety Project. I’ve been rather busy doing and had no time to get all these things up to date.
2017 continued to see our work displayed wider afield.
In January Mrs Physics took to Reading to be part of the ASE Conference as part of the Science on Stage UK delegation.
SSR September 2017, 99(366) 35
ASE schools exhibition The ASE Scotland Annual Conference 2017
ABSTRACT: Some impressions of the ASE Scotland Annual Conference 2017 from a teacher participant and exhibitor
After arriving at Harris Academy, Dundee, on Saturday 4 March 2017 in a downpour, the delightful and abundant cakes, pastries and coffee on offer at the Association for Science Education (ASE) Scotland Annual Conference were very welcome. Having set up our stand in the schools exhibition, I toured the other exhibits in the atrium. The stands were well presented and the people at each stand were knowledgeable and helpful. There was plenty of time to have really good individual conversations with people at the displays. Every hour or so the atrium emptied as everyone made their way to one of the many and varied workshops, covering all aspects of science and many giving inspirational ideas. Each of the workshops was well run, kicking off with ‘You’re never too young to be a research scientist’ by Professor Becky Parker MBE of the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), and ‘Creative science: explore the importance of creativity in the sciences’ with Christine Angus and Anna Danby of Dynamic Earth, and ending with ‘Book into Science! Encouraging children to read science for enjoyment’ and ‘Bangs, batteries and Barbie’ with Adrian Allan demonstrating how microscale chemistry techniques can be used to demonstrate chemical concepts. A Barbie doll was given a detox session in the interests of science education. There were plenty of goodies to go around and plenty of questions to ask. I attended two lectures run by the Perimeter Institute and representatives of the Institute of Physics. Both were really useful, totally linked to the curriculum, and the handouts were meaningful and detailed. To encourage participants to talk to people on the stands, each stand had a collection of stickers, which were given out to people who came and spoke to you. These were stuck to a sheet that went into a raffle with prizes supplied by some of the trade stands. Over lunch, there were more opportunities to discuss science teaching with friends, teachers and supporters. There was a constant buzz and chatter and you could tell that many were inspired by what they saw. By careful selection, you could create a programme of continuing professional development (CPD) that exactly met your needs and was relevant to the continually changing Scottish education system. A session later in the programme was given over to author Gill Arbuthnott, with me in tow, discussing how to get students to read science books for pleasure. We had previously given a presentation, together with Dr Ruth Jarman from Queen’s University Belfast, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and had learned a lot from each other, so Gill and I felt we had acquired the confidence to perform as a duo and had a real passion to get schoolchildren reading science books. I was influenced by the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize, which celebrates the best books that communicate science to young people. I was shocked when I found that most students I teach have never chosen to read a science book from a library or bookshop and, in fact, few realised such books were on offer. Ruth Jarman is co-director of Project 500, which aims to get children and young people excited about science and enthusiastic about reading. Through the project, students are encouraged to visit their local library to access its range of science resources. We have shared ideas and experiences and realise that we have good complementary skills. Gill Arbuthnott’s writing is inspirational in the classroom. It was therefore a privilege to share our experiences with a group of keen teachers and supporters who also had an interest in getting more students engaged with reading science books. We had taken a range of different books 36 SSR September 2017, 99(366) along, from science books for the very young to ones that conveyed difficult science concepts in a novel form, such as Lucy and Stephen Hawking’s George’s Secret Key to the Universe. Everyone I spoke to was keen to find out more and had wonderful ideas to share. It was a great chance to get some new ideas and to be able to look at things with a fresh eye. I think the only thing that surprised me was that it was not as well attended as expected. So many people had gone to so much trouble to prepare workshops and displays, it was a pity that more science teachers and their supporters had not come along. They missed a great day of worthwhile CPD. I certainly hope to be back next year. Mrs Physics teaches at Lockerbie Academy, an 11–18 state secondary school in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
This is the link to our work that was submitted by the students, particularly Leelah and Laura. This received a gold award by the Royal Society and 11 of us went back to the Summer Science Exhibition 2015 to receive a Science Book each. Thanks to the Royal Society for their wonderful support.
21st September European Day Without ARoad Death- wonderful news. No deaths on D&G roads on 21st September 2016. Let’s keep it this way.
Support this event! But don’t drive on this side of the Road in the UK!
Below are the pictures of our Road Safety Event, which involved Lockerbie Academy students, Police Scotland and sponsorship from Tesco Lockerbie and Brake. The students had an amazing day and really built up their confidence and team skills. Everyone of them now feels confident that they could check a car for safe winter driving. One commented that it only felt like 2 hours and not 5. Inspector Campbell Moffat and his team taught the students in a lovely way, building up their confidence and ensuring that they would complete the checks adequately. We would especially like to say a great big thank you to Tesco Lockerbie. Not only did they provide de-icer, sponges and screenwash, but they also gave up a large chunk of their car park, as not many towns folk were up the Academy end. Tesco were great hosts and even provided a top up of the screen wash, for which we and the drivers were grateful. We will tweak our speeches to the driver, but would be happy to do winter checks again. Thank you so much. The Road Safety message continues to be reiterated at Lockerbie Academy.
As part of Lockerbie Academy’s continued drive and commitment to road safety we have again teamed up with Police Scotland through Inspector Campbell Moffat and Sergeant Paul Dodds to bring a “Winter Safe Drive” Campaign to Lockerbie Academy and everyone is invited, whether you own a car or not. This is a FREE event, and the Police and pupils will be on hand, with some school staff to answer questions on safe winter driving, advise you on what to have in your car in case of breakdown, or being stuck due to a traffic jam or bad weather and to complete car safety checks. This is an advisory event, and hopefully you and your car will leave better prepared for the winter driving ahead.
A new team of Road Safety students have been busy preparing for the event making banners, posters and learning about safe driving. The questionnaire, which was started a couple of years ago has been re-launched and we hope to help to make drivers in Dumfries and Galloway feel more confident and be more prepared and have their cars ready for the winter..
We believe at Lockerbie Academy that young people can make a huge difference to road safety. They make passionate, effective campaigners who understand the devastation road crashes cause to young lives. They can help prevent casualties, and make their communities safer and greener, by speaking out for road safety and sustainable transport, and making and encouraging responsible decisions within their peer group.
We will have copies of the Brake Pledge for safer driving, which you can sign if you feel that you want to add your name to the campaign. There will be lots of free items and a chance to ensure that you have a clean windscreen and lights, that your lights are fully working, screenwash is topped up and tyres are at the right pressure. We hope to be selling additional items at cost price.
Please come and support us for this event, even if the weather is bad, we will be waiting to help you out. Bring your cars to the Lockerbie Academy car park, and even if you are a non driver, or don’t have a car, there will also be helpful advice for pedestrians as well.
THE EVENT TOOK PLACE ON SATURDAY 26TH NOVEMBER BETWEEN 10AM AND 3PM. Approximately 80 vehicles were checked.
Thanks to Inspector Campbell Moffat and his team for making this event so enjoyable and educational for our students. They will be great ambassadors for Road Safety.
Make a difference to road safety: Make the Brake Pledge
Brake’s vision is a world where streets are pleasant, unpolluted, and safe for everyone to use freely.
To help us get there, everyone can sign our Pledge, whether you are a driver or not. The Pledge calls for people to drive less and, if they do drive, to do everything they can to protect themselves and the people around them. Scroll down to read the Pledge
Drivers – I’ll stay under limits, and slow down to 20mph around schools, homes and shops to protect others. I’ll slow right down for bends, brows and bad weather, and avoid overtaking. Everyone – I’ll speak out for slowing down and help drivers understand that the slower they drive, the more chance they have of avoiding a crash and saving a life.
Drivers – I’ll never drive after drinking any alcohol or drugs – not a drop, not a drag. Everyone – I’ll plan ahead to make sure I, and anyone I’m with, can get home safely and I’ll never get a lift with drink/drug drivers. I’ll speak out if someone’s about to drive on drink or drugs.
Drivers – I’ll make sure everyone in my vehicle is belted up on every journey, and kids smaller than 150cm are in a proper child restraint. I’ll choose the safest vehicle I can and ensure it’s maintained. Everyone – I’ll belt up on every journey, and make sure friends and family do too.
With the changes to the Scottish School Curriculum it was decided to make mechanics courses applicable to all students. Living in a rural area many students learn to drive on farms and believe they have little to learn when they begin driving on roads. There have been many fatalities in our Region; even one of these fatalities is prevented then the work would have been worthwhile. We cover work for all ages from 11-18 year of age.
With some basic equipment students can be taught Physics through Road Safety at all levels.
Figure 1: An example of a playmat for students to measure distance and time and calculate average speed. Also used for instantaneous speed and velocity.
Figure 2: students finding average and instantaneous speeds with playmats.
I use playmats and toy cars for the 11year olds. Students use string and a stopwatch and calculate the average speed to drive a predetermined route around the playmat. Already potential driver attitudes are visible. Some students race around the track as fast as possible just trying to get the fastest average speed, other meticulously obey road rules, even making up indicator sounds at the junctions. We then discuss speed and its role in many road traffic incidents. This leads nicely into instantaneous speed and the difference between the two. Using light gates and interfaces we calculate the instantaneous speed as students drive vehicles along a straight stretch of the road. We discuss the similarities between this and the traffic cameras. If playmats are too expensive a route can always be marked out on paper or chalk across the floor or table.
We then use Fifex reaction timers to introduce the idea of reaction time and how this affects the measurement of instantaneous speed. There are many online games, many related to driving that can also be used to check the students’ reaction times.
We then play a game with the reaction timers called Chicken Run. Using the pre-programmed reaction timers students estimate a virtual drivers’ stopping distance under various conditions and the effects of not concentrating on the likelihood of an accident. Two “drivers” use a steering wheel from a games consul to “drive” the vehicle. The road conditions and the speed of the car are set on the reaction timers. The rest of the students estimate the stopping distance; trying to choose a value as close to the stopping distance as possible without being “hit”. The drivers start by hitting the green start button and when the red light stops flashing the student has to hit the stop button and the reaction time, thinking and braking distance are displayed on the screen. The students calculate the stopping distances by adding the thinking and braking distance. We start off at a low speed on a dry road and gradually increase the speed, road conditions and distractions. For example a student might select to drive at 30 mph in the dry without distractions. Initially the students have little idea of the stopping distance, and in the first few rounds most are hit by the driver. This game has some serious messages, despite being fun. By dividing the class into two groups and having two drivers it adds to the fun, and can demonstrate to students how some drivers might “hit” you but others not. We look at the effects of texting, music distractions and road conditions. It is important to mark out these stopping distances as students have no concept of distances. If the reaction timers are too expensive then a small computer programme could manage the same calculations and the students can run the same tests. The company make a version with foot pedals so that it is more realistic to find the impact of drinking from a bottle and texting whilst driving.
Figure 3: Fifex Reaction Timer for measuring reaction times and recording thinking, braking and stopping distances.
Figure 4: Driver playing Chicken Run
Figure 5: Two drivers playing chicken run
Obviously this device is programmed for the UK market and has the speed in miles per hour, but a version is available in km/h. Students are shocked at how long it takes a car to stop when being driven at the speed limit in icy conditions.
It is not too big a leap to introduce velocity and the difference between speed and velocity. As the playmats are 2D it is easy to get students to realise the difference between how far they’ve travelled (distance) and how far they are from the start as the crow flies (displacement). This helps explain why v is the symbol for speed. Many students now have a compass on their phones and the angle or bearing can be taken to indicate the direction of the vector. There are various routes through the course after speed is completed. Students can be taught about forces and the effect of collision. The EU car safety scheme can be discussed culminating in students trying to build a safety device for the car to reduce the forces received during a crash. Generally, despite all the knowledge, students tend to produce something that bounces rather than crumples resulting in many smaller but potentially damaging forces on the passengers. We call this exercise “Tart Ma Kart”, based on the TV show “Pimp My Ride”. Acceleration can also be fitted into the Road Safety theme and can include choosing a car with a five star safety rating and choosing a car with a high acceleration.
At the end of these activities the students work in the hall where a 1/3 scaled model of a road traffic incident is laid out. We were sponsored to be able to source the materials for this, but with a little imagination, or support from students this could be done with cardboard boxes or borrow from the students if they might have had a ride on car.
Students secure the scene and formulate a hypothesis for what occurred. They are given two witness statements and have to note the similarities and disagreements. Witness statements are not used in any meaningful way in a road incident as they are so unreliable. A book of information is given to the students with details of the road surface and the differences between run under and run over and a talk about the four stages of braking. The scenario is based on a real local road incident and this makes it poignant for the students.
Students measure out the tyre makes and use the equations to discover the speed the pedestrian was hit, the initial speed of the car when the tyre marks were laid down on the road and what would have happened if the car had been driving at or below the speed limit.
Figure 6: Layout of part of the scene
Figure 7: Police reconstruction of the scene.
There is a great sense of achievement when the students finally work out what happened and get the correct answer. Many need a little prompting but the satisfaction is immense. We were lucky enough to have the police in when we were completing this task but it isn’t necessary. It just adds to the knowledge and experience that can be given to the students and allows careers advice to be given.
The senior students receive a talk by a Road Crash Investigator around a serious incident occurring in 2006. The police discuss the evidence and explain how the timeline of what occurred can be built up from the evidence of the scene. The students are then given the age and profile of those who caused the accident. The Road Investigator then provides details of the people causing the fatalities and it is a shock to them all. The final task is for the students to use their knowledge of impulse, conservation of momentum and equations of motion to look at two A1 plots of road incidents and being asked to use the evidence to find out what happened.
Figure 8: The Glen, one of the worst road crashes in Dumfries and Galloway, and caused by young drivers
Figure 9: Senior Students use an A1 plot to determine the cause of a road traffic incident.
All students involved in the work benefitted to some extent and it engaged students who might otherwise think Physics is not for them. Much of the work can be adapted for local situations and local police road crash investigators might be able to provide more examples of local incidents that can be used. The two examples that we have been given can easily be adjusted to show drivers on the other side of the road or travelling at local speed limits.
Figure 10: The Glen – one of the worst ever road traffic collisions in our Region and caused by young drivers.
Figure 11: Our work was showcased at the 2014 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
Lockerbie Academy will be working to increase awareness during ROAD SAFETY WEEK
Young people and road safety
Less than one in 12 licence holders is under 25, yet one in five fatal and serious injury crashes involve a driver this age. Often the victims are young people themselves: road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK and worldwide.
At the same time, young people can make a huge difference to road safety. They often make passionate, effective campaigners who understand the devastation road crashes cause to young lives. They can help prevent casualties, and make their communities safer and greener, by speaking out for road safety and sustainable transport, and making and encouraging responsible decisions within their peer group.
If you teach or work with young people, you can help them understand the issues around road safety and sustainable travel, make safe and sustainable choices, and speak out for responsible road use. Use our online resources including posters, interactive tools and videos, or order our hard copy resources including posters, leaflets and a DVD.
Below are the resources for the crash simulation part of the Road safety course. For lower school road safety work please see the BGE page of the website www.mrsphysics.co.uk/bge and click on the road safety section.
Hope you find the materials useful and I’ll tidy them up as soon as I can. I’ve also a few more items to upload
A photo of the set up in the assembly Hall. Obviously this can be adapted for your own use, or reflected for those who drive on the right.