STEM Photography Key Stage 5
Our Key Stage 5 entrants submitted many incredible photographs and interesting, informative commentaries. Take a moment to scroll through the entries and let them show you the beautiful science all around us.
Pictured here is a lit match lighting another unlit match. The heat from the first match is enough energy to kickstart the reaction of the potassium chlorate in the head of the match with oxygen in the air. This initial reaction lights the paraffin-soaked wooden stick of the match allowing a small, sustained flame.
Fire at its simplest level is an exothermic reaction between a fuel and oxygen in the air. Fire emits energy in the form of heat (infrared waves/convection/conduction) and visible light. It is possibly the most important discovery humans have ever made. As we mastered the ability to control this chemical reaction, we were able to heat our homes, provide ourselves with light after the sun went down, and probably most importantly it allowed our early ancestors to cook meat which many studies suggest, helped to boost brain development over the next few million years, which set us apart from other species.
This picture shows what I had first thought to be the lights from the kitchen ceiling diffracting through the gap in the doorway and forming a diffraction pattern on the floor. However, upon closer inspection I realised this was not the case.
The rays of light from the kitchen bulbs travel in straight lines to the door where they appear to be diffracted. Diffraction is the spreading out of waves as they pass through a gap smaller than the wavelength of the light. The gap in the doorway is much greater than the wavelength of the light and so the waves cannot have been diffracted.
This gap, in fact, works more like a pinhole camera and proves that light travels in straight lines. There are 8 lights in my kitchen ceiling and in the picture, there are 8 narrow beams of light visible on the floor. As light travels from the source and through the gap, the rays are focused into separate beams that would each lead to a different bulb if they continued on the other side of the door.
In addition, the light visible on the floor is not showing a rainbow-coloured spectrum. This coloured dispersion of the light only happens when white light - light which contains all wavelengths of the visible spectrum - is diffracted due to the differing degrees of diffraction of different wavelengths. From this evidence we can conclude that the light is not diffracted but that it does travel in straight lines.
Two moons. The moon has always fascinated me as it is so unique and can change size, colour and shape every night.
Ever wondered why?
The moon changes colour and shape according to the light given from the moon. The more might reflected from the sun the brighter the moon will be.
The amount of dust, water and gases all contribute to the colour of moon we see. If there is more dust in the atmosphere the moon will seem yellow or orange.
With more dust or water the blue light reflected from the moon will scatter leaving more of the red wavelengths of light to travel to our eyes.
For thousands of years mankind has looked up in awe at the night sky. One of the most iconic of these constellations is Orion the hunter, a name given by the Ancient Greeks, who sported alongside the goddess of the moon, Artemis.
Orion's Belt, comprised of Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka, all having roughly the same age and two of the three of these are supergiants, dwarfing our sun in terms of luminosity and size, showing us the true extent of the nuclear fusion reactions occurring on their surface. It is extraordinary how this asterism 1344 light years away can influence the cultures of the likes of the Egyptians and Greeks. In fact, unlike most constellations that separate over time Orion's Belt travels together, as the pyramids in Egypt mimic the alignment showing how they saw the same distanced constellation as we do now.
Fireworks! The staple of any big celebration, these incredible rockets fire up and light up the whole sky with a magnificent blast of colour and light.
The magic begins when the fuse is lit, this heat travels down to the shell which is tightly packed with gunpowder. When the gunpowder is heated, the reaction causes hot gases to be produced and start to build up pressure, and when this pressure gets too high the rocket is launched at high speeds into the sky! Leaving a fiery trail in its path. The bright and colourful explosions are caused by little pellets called stars, these are a mix of different metal salts and chemicals used to create different effects, such as different colours, lights and even noises! For example, stars containing copper produce a bright blue light. The stars are ignited from a timed fuse, which is set to only be lit when the rocket reaches a certain height. The heat causes the stars to burn and glow and a build-up of pressure causes the stars to be shot out in different shapes and patterns!
This is a photo of a bumblebee foraging on Dog Rose.
This photo is particularly interesting as the bumblebee's pollen sacks are clearly visible on its side. This photo was taken at Stranmillis college campus in August 2022. I took this photo while surveying as part of a Sentinus project on Environmental Biology.