Bulletin 204 complete

1 Editorial 

2 News & comment

Funding announcement, SSERC on the move – again, Science year, SESEF launch, Diary dates

3 Laser attack 

We continue to get several reports a year about attacks with laser pointers. There is generally no risk of direct harm to the eye from this misuse but it can cause distress and anxiety. This article provides information about the effects and the extent of the risk.

4 Safety tips

Transformation Kit, Disinfectants, COSHH

5 Strain gauges

Some information to support the Higher Physics Student Material on the strain gauge.

5 Alpha Radio Receiver 

Unilab’s Alpha radio receiver board.

6 Some PlC products from Revolution

A wide range of new educational products is being devised by Revolution Education Limited. Many of these products are based on inexpensive, digital microcontrollers, sometimes known as PICs. Most have applications in technology education but some would be of use in science.

7 Contact lens warning

A warning about risks from electrical sparking or welding and contact lenses.

Bulletin 205 says – We now understand that this story is a myth and apologize for any alarm it may have caused.

8 Shoogled – nae stirred

We revisit and old timer – the ‘Magic Bottle’ (Blue Bottle) demonstration which is suggested for use as part of an introduction to redox reactions.

8 The Thiele tube

We evaluate an alternative, low cost, form of melting point apparatus – the Thiele tube.

10 Biotech Summer School

A short report in the first in a series of follow-up symposia for the highly successful Summer Schools.

10 Resource notes

SEPA’s website now has a schools section

11 Modifications of Benedict’s and Fehling’s Reagents

Benedict’s reagent has been reported, falsely, as a reliable test for alkanals. Some relevant modifications of Benedict’s and Fehling’s reagents are described and discussed in terms of efficacy and safety.

12 News & comment

Philip Harris and Unilab – what’s afoot? Alpha switched display, Free physics simulations, New DJB Alba products, Sparklets cartridges, Rollo dynamics trolley, Polymer news, Safety flash – accident involving a motor

Bulletin 205 complete

1 Editorial

2 News & comment

More money for science, Institute for science education, SCBE appoints staff, Science 5-14 news, RSE/SEELLD Fellowships

3 Gas cylinders and regulators

Both of these components must, by law, be examined regularly. We explain what you need to do.

4 Van de Graaff shocks

Except for persons with certain medical conditions, there is little risk of harm from an electric shock from a Van de Graaf generator whose dome does not exceed 25cm. Two cases of shock are analysed – a direct spark to the body from a charged dome and an unintended discharge of a charged person. The first of these leads to a limit for maximum dome size. The article finishes with guidance on how to run the machine safely.

6 Brady’s reagent

This Advanced Higher Chemistry prescribed practical activity (PPA) includes a recipe and safety information for Brady’s reagent

7 Texas datalogger

This is an outline review of the Texas Instruments calculator-based datalogger CBL 2 wherein its ease of use, functionality and speed are compared with computer-based instruments.

9 Graphical Analysis

The new version of Vernier’s software offers powerful computer graphing facilities. Even so, it is simple to use and is very reasonably priced. We recommend it, strongly.

10 Anodising aluminium

Advice is given on how to carry out this chemistry practical.

11 Microbiology resources

A new edition of the Code of Practice on Safety in Microbiology

12 Microscope illumination

A simple device – a “turbid cube” – is described which may be used to demonstrate the proper use of a microscope condenser and iris diaphragm.

13 Constant spring motor

This interesting device can be used to apply a constant force on a dynamics cart.

14 Laser diode modules

The specifications of laser diode modules continue to improve, yet they drop in price. This is good news for customers. Here is a review of a selection of Class 2 devices.

15 UV LEDs

UV LEDs were recently invented and have begun to be more widely available. We bought in a few and report here on what we found.

16 Trade news

Oscilloscope offer, Revolution Education, Euromicrovision, Jeulin VTT, Contact lens retraction

Bulletin 206 complete

1 Editorial

2 News & comment

ASE Scotland programme, ISE 5-14 programme, Accounts Commission on PPP, HSE and risk management, Bob (Kibble) finds use for comb

3 Electrical equipment testing

The IEE have revised their code of practice for the in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment.

4 Superwool 607

A recently developed ceramic fibre – Superwool 607 – has been shown to be free of carcinogenic properties. Tests in our laboratory show that this material, both in the form of wool and paper, is suitable for a wide range of techniques for heating metals and their oxides, etc. Current ceramic fibre paper and wools should be substituted with Superwool products when they become available to schools.

7 CE marking and product safety

There is much confusion on CE marking. Its purpose is to facilitate the free movement of goods within the EU. It is a symbol for trade and traders. Strictly speaking, it is not a quality or safety mark for consumers.

7 Radford Labpacks

These should now be disposed of

7 Liquid nitrogen transport

An update to the advice originally given in Bulletin 190.

7 Traffic light LEDs

One of the staple projects in school technology is making a set of model traffic lights out of LEDs controlled by digital  logic. This technology has moved on now from the design bench to the street, where we find those stunningly luminous and brilliantly coloured LED traffic light signals.

8 Microscope specifications

The key principles underpinning SSERC’s specifications for educational microscopes are explained. Parts of these notes may be of some application in Scottish courses which require basic knowledge of the effective use of an optical microscope. The SSERC specifications are summarised.

10 Control at S1/S2 with small models and a PIC

Control is one of the elements generally missing from 5-14 in primary schools but could and should be addressed at S1/S2. With progression to Standard Grade and Intermediate levels in mind we offer the following ideas which we believe are fun, informative and inexpensive

12 Buffers

During recent trials of pH meters, we inadvertently discovered that the pH 12 buffer solution we had purchased from Scientific and Chemical Supplies Ltd (SCS) was outwith specification. We measured the pH of the solution with six different meters and obtained consistently readings of 10.5.

13 Power supplies

Since we last issued test reports on power supplies in 1996-7, there have been many product changes. This short report looks at three basic items: two from Economatics and one from STE.

14 LED array

We describe the construction with LEDs of an array of optical radiation sources spanning the entire visible spectrum. Some uses are provided.

15 Experimenting with UV LEDs

Because a LED is a point source, UV LEDs can be used quite easily in optical experiments. By detecting the radiation with fluorescence, the wave nature can be demonstrated and wavelength can be measured with precision.

16 Trade News

Technical tip – Popping Alba files into Excel, Solar science set, Alpha boards, Glasgow physics website.

Bulletin 207 complete

1 Editorial

2 News & comment

International Science Conference, IoP Congress 2003, Institute of Biology Events, Chemistry Teachers’ Day, Summer schools, ASE Scotland – Annual Meeting, PPP out-takes

3 Health effects of low-level radiation

The mainstream view that risk falls roughly in a linear fashion with dose is under attack from some who maintain that there is a threshold below which radiation is harmless, or even beneficial, and from other groups asserting that very low doses are extraordinarily dangerous.

7 HSE guidance on electrical testing

The HSE have recently published two 4-page information sheets and a 14-page booklet all on safety in electrical testing. They would be relevant to anyone working in or operating a technician repair centre, or in any school where electrical equipment was repaired or tested.

8 PIC & LCD display

Messages can easily be produced on liquid crystal displays driven by PIC controllers.

9 Bumping during the preparation of potassium trioxalatoferrate(III)

Some improvements are recommended to the method of preparing potassium trioxalatoferrate(III) (Advanced Higher Chemistry PPA, Unit 1, PPA 1)

10 Anodising again

Some alternative dyes

10 Signals from a radio transmitter

If a single turn of wire short circuits the low impedance output of a power signal generator tuned to produce 100 kHz, or thereabouts, then it is possible to generate and transmit an RF signal.

11 Laser equipment offer

Five laser diode modules and photometers from the Physics Department of Heriot Watt University are on offer for long-term loan to schools.

12 Portable radiation detectors

This trade review tells you what’s on the market and the sorts of radiation hotspots to search for in your school environment. Are portable radiation detectors worth having? That’s for you to judge.

13 New ICT packages

Simple Data Handling, LogIT products, PASCO products,

14 Botanical and ecological fieldwork – new Floras

The several new Floras that have recently been published provide invaluable aids to fieldwork.

15 Phenomenology

An example of the science of phenomena with Chladni’s plate.

16 Trade News

Chladni’s plates, Harris and Unilab repairs, Middlesex University, White phosphorus, Leybold Didactic