CSI Spark: Creative Science Investigations

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This week we have turned to our resident physicist and Head of Science, Nic, to learn all about CSI Spark. It might not be quite what you’re thinking – let’s dive in and see exactly what our Year 7s and 8s have been investigating.

What does CSI stand for?

 

Something exciting has been happening in the Science department here at Spark Academy.  Over the past 7 weeks, we have been doing science a little differently for Years 7 & 8.

As many of you may be familiar with, CSI – that is, Crime Scene Investigation – is a long-standing television show that shows us just how important science can be in fighting crime. CSI at Spark, however, stands for Creative Science Investigation. 

 

The Structure of the Earth

 

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In our first topic, students investigated how the Earth was formed, how earthquakes affect buildings, and how Earth has changed over time. Volcanic activities and tectonic plates have changed the very make up of the Earth, as well as its atmosphere. Students have modelled their own construction ideas by building structures from sweets and jelly. Their ‘buildings’ were tested to see if they could withstand earthquakes (simple shaking), which allowed our students to discuss the idea of stability and mobility of buildings in earthquake prone zones.

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Iceland’s volcanic eruption in 2010 at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano became the focus for two of our lessons. Students gathered information about the eruption, the issues it generated for the people of Iceland and the wider global impact on air travel and tourism. In true ‘Blue Peter’ style we made our very own model volcanoes – and erupted them. Students used a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar (along with colouring for effect). We discussed the premise of a preliminary investigation and the students investigated the quantities of substances to be used (to maximise effect) before erupting their own volcano.

When looking at the atmosphere students tried a simple electrolysis experiment. By passing a small potential difference and current through graphite pencils in a solution, they generated hydrogen and oxygen gas. We then used the gas test to see if the gases collected were indeed the ones we had suggested. Hydrogen gives a squeaky pop when a flame is held to it and oxygen will re-light a glowing splint.

 

What makes CSI different?

 

The students have really taken to the more practical element of their lessons and enjoy asking questions. They are always keen to find out what practical or investigation they may be doing next! Teaching theory hand in hand with practical demonstrations is making our CSI lessons both fun and educational.

 

Giving our students an edge…

 

The emphasis is on learning through the enjoyment of creativity and hands-on activities. The ability to write scientifically about any investigations they carry out is an essential part of the new Science GCSE. However, students will need the practical skills base to be able to write about their investigations successfully.

The UK is struggling to recruit the engineers of the future, and the wholly academic GCSEs may not provide important practical skills. We hope to build vital practical and investigative skills our students will need to give them to have a competitive edge in a highly skilled jobs market. CSI is science for the engineers, scientists and researchers of the future – and it all starts at Spark.

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Student Spotlight: Eren Mirza

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Spotlight On…

At Spark, our goal is not just to help our students with their immediate academic goals. Our aim is to help them develop and plan for their futures. We like to keep in touch with our Alumni so we can hear about all of their successes. We thought you might also be interested in hearing a little about what they have to say.

So, that’s why we thought we’d ask a few of our Alumni to be in our Spotlight. They’ve taken the time to answer a few questions about their time at Spark. This week we’ve been catching up with Eren Mirza…

Which subjects did you study and in what years?

 

I started Spark Academy midway through my GCSE’s to aid me in Science, and continued with tuition for Chemistry for my A-levels.

Why did you choose to study with Spark?

 

I chose to study with Spark mainly because the classes had a warm feel to them; light-hearted and fun, making it much easier to ask questions when I was confused about the more complex topics.

What was your favourite part of studying with us?

 

My favourite part about studying with Spark would have to be… Mital! That’s because having a teacher who is easily approachable and comfortable to talk to was essential for me. Needing a tutor in the first place was a sign that I found it difficult to get help in school when I needed it. A friendly tutor really made the classes more enjoyable.

What are you doing now?

 

I’m currently studying Chemistry at the University of York and have just finished my first year there.

Do you feel like Spark helped you to achieve what you wanted to achieve?

 

Definitely! I’ve always wanted to pursue a degree in science but Spark Academy certainly gave me a push for Chemistry, it was especially helpful to have feedback on my personal statement during application times.

What advice would you give students currently at Spark?

 

My advice to current students would be to make your notes interesting! Whether it be in school or when you’re being tutored, ultimately the work will be as entertaining as you want it to be. Whether it be sketches, posters or songs try and vary it up a little and you’ll find even Half Cell Redox Equations have a fun side to them.

 

Check out Eren’s cool video on macromolecules which is suitable for A-level chemistry here:

To find out how Spark could help you, visit the rest of our site and book in for your free trial today!

What is Class Dojo?

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This week we’ve turned to our Primary and E-learning specialist Vikz to learn more about Class Dojo. We’re finding Class Dojo is fantastic during our lessons – hopefully you’ll all be just as impressed!class dojo - Spark Academy

What is Class Dojo?

 

Class Dojo is a fun interactive way for you to earn points while enjoying your lessons at Spark. Class Dojo is an innovative way for teachers, pupils and parents to connect with each other over behaviour management while you go about your normal day to day learning.

 

How does it work?

 

At Spark you can earn many points many ways. The points that you collect and earn go into your class points and these can earn you Spark Goodies. Soon there will also be an elusive spot available as Student of the Month for those whose hard work can be seen from the points they’ve earned!

Every time you do something great at Spark you will be rewarded with either team points or individual points.

All the points at the end of the academic year will help to calculate awards and prizes for each year group and subject. When our amazing awards evening comes back around in July, students and parents will be able to reap the rewards of the fantastic contributions and hard work put in all year round.

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Some of our classes have already made a fantastic start on their Dojo points!

How can I earn points?

 

There are lots of ways you can earn Dojo points in all of your subjects.

Some points apply across all subjects, such as being on task or working as a team. There are also subject specific points: in English you can earn 2 Dojo points for getting all your spellings correct every week, in Maths 2 Dojo points can be earned for explaining an answer during lesson time; and being safe in a science practical can also earn you 2 points. The more classes you take with us, the more points you can earn.class dojo 5 - Spark Academy

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A surefire to earn Dojo points is to always bring your homework in and try your best every week. Furthermore,one of the wonderful things about Class Dojo is that it allows teachers to reward everyone for their own individual contributions and hard work.

 

What can I earn with all my points?

 

Dojo points will be tallied up at the end of the year and you will unlock rewards. We will be announcing the rewards in the near future, so make sure you stay tuned to Spark Ideas to find out!

 

What is an Avatar?

 

An Avatar is a little creature that represents you in the world of Class Dojo. This creature can be any creature that available at the time. You will soon have over 70 characters to choose from and there are more being added all of the time!

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Happy ‘Dojo-ing’!

Build a New Spark

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What’s happening at the Belgrave build?

 

Many of you might be wondering what’s happening at our Belgrave branch at the moment. When you left at the end of the summer term, our supremely capable construction team had already started knocking down the old to make way for the new. They’re literally helping to build a new future for Spark.

How is the building changing?

 

This expansion is helping Spark to go up in the world – quite literally as for the first time we’ll have a second storey extension! The upstairs will house one of our impressive state of the art classrooms and represents all the values that Spark encompasses. Furthermore, the new building will showcase our desire for a modern approach to tuition and our belief in providing a positive environment to work and study in. Belgrave is about to become a community hub of learning. It will provide our students and parents with a space to learn, laugh and really make the most of their time with us. In addition, the benefits of the centre will extend to the staff as well as students. For example, there will be fabulous new office spaces for Mital and Nidhi, and a zen garden to keep us grounded and relaxed.

What are we looking forward to?

 

Nic is most looking forward to creating a green space on Melton Road for relaxation. She is excited to introduce an eco-friendly vibe to the centre too. Nidhi is not just excited about the bigger kitchen, but also the brighter reception space. Our brighter entrance will definitely match her role as Chief Happiness Operator!

Chris can’t wait to hold his Year 12 and 13 classes in our specially designed upper-level A-level space. Mital is anticipating her personalised new office. Soon she’ll have somewhere to hold the meetings, make the phone calls and continue her tireless effects to develop Spark.

I could go on to describe how we’re reducing Spark’s carbon footprints with LED lights and recycling areas. It would be easy to talk about building a space full of natural light with more windows. I could also mention the set of French doors out to our zen garden. Or I might talk for hours about our vision for the new décor inside. I think you understand our excitement!

So… when are you moving in?

 

We haven’t got an official move in date yet. Although the build has taken slightly longer than we thought, it won’t be long before Spark is back on Melton Road where it belongs. As the saying goes ‘good things come to those who wait…

Get in touch today!

Welcome Back to Spark

Now we’re a few weeks into our Autumn term, I think it’s time for an official welcome…

Welcome back to Spark Academy and to the exciting launch of our brand-new blog! Run by me, Rebecca, Spark Ideas is your weekly look into our inner workings. Moreover, it’s a chance for you to pick up useful tips, learn more about what’s happening at Spark every week and get to know our whole team. Everyone will have chance to take their turn behind the wheel.

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What can you expect from Spark this year?

 

Well, things are starting to look a little different here, with our new website and blog and the fantastic renovations underway at our Belgrave branch. Underneath the shiny new surface we’re still working just as hard to provide you with the best tuition service possible.

Since we came back from summer, our team has been bunkered down at Manor High School each day. It’s fantastic to build more on our relationship with Manor. In fact, you can even find us this week at Manor’s open evening on Thursday 21st.

Has the team changed at all?

 

Yes – our team has been getting bigger! We’ve been enjoying getting to know our new members of staff and introducing them to all things Spark. Gemma, Charlotte, Katherine and Vikz have all brought their own unique styles, skills and personality to Spark. They’re also working to further enrich our lessons, captivate our classes and develop our students to their full potential. By now all of our new teachers are settling in well and are enjoying teaching classes at Spark!

Have a look at our staff page to learn more about our fantastic team: https://spark-academy.co.uk/our-team/

Our growing team will also mean we can work on more exciting projects and build on the already strong relationships we have developed with schools in Leicester. This year is all about growing: growing Spark, growing the team and growing you! We’re diving straight in to what we enjoy most – providing interactive, individualised lessons for our classes, in both existing and new subjects.

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In English Charlotte and I are making strides to plan new and interactive lessons for both our primary and secondary Sparkies. We want to share our passion and to show the impact of literacy in the ‘real world’. Nic is welcoming the addition of A-level Physics and new Creative Science Investigations for Year 7 and 8. CSI promises a fun and practical approach to ‘outside of the box’ science in real life. The Maths Department is growing rapidly to welcome more staff and more classes; Chris is thrilled to be providing tuition in Mechanics and Statistics alongside his Core A-Level Maths lessons.

The best part is – this is only the beginning! This year Spark is going to be bigger and better than ever before. Importantly for you, at Spark Ideas I’ll make sure that you’re with us every step of the way.

Spark Academy shortlists for the 2017 NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards!

Dedication to education - Spark Academy

GBEA Shortlisted 201710 - Spark Academy

 

It has just been announced that Leicester based Spark Academy has been shortlisted for the 2017 NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards in the Small Business of the Year award.

 

Spark Academy, an after school tuition provider founded by Mital Thanki, a former teacher, entrepreneur and Leicester local, beat off some tough competition in order to make the regional shortlist. Over 1000 businesses entered the awards nationally across the wide range of categories.

 

Now in its fifth year, the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards has celebrated some amazing entrepreneurs over the years, many of whom are now household names. Past winners include David Buttress of Just Eat, Julie Deane of The Cambridge Satchel Company, James Watt of BrewDog and Alexander Solomou of TheLADBible Group.

 

Founder and CEO, Mital Thanki, said:

We are incredibly passionate in helping young people believe in themselves. We create exciting learning experiences and are driven to seeing pupil progress. I am incredibly proud that my teams’ tireless efforts in making quality education affordable for all is being recognised.

 

Creator of the Awards, Francesca James, said:

We have been inundated with some incredible entries this year, and all shortlisted applicants should be extremely proud of themselves! This year has seen a record number of entrants and we’ve been absolutely blown away by the strength and diversity of applications.

 

We cannot wait to celebrate entrepreneurship across Great Britain with them, and put a spotlight on the incredible talent within the British entrepreneur ecosystem.

 

Gordon Merrylees, Head of Entrepreneurship at NatWest said: “I want to thank all of the entrepreneurs who entered this year and congratulate those who have been shortlisted, I look forward to seeing them at the regional finals.”

 

“It is clear that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and NatWest is thrilled to be able to support these awards to celebrate success with the businesses that are the lifeblood of the UK Economy as they start, scale and succeed.”

 

The NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards will celebrate entrepreneurship across a number of categories at 5 gala finals across the UK, including; Cardiff, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester & London. You can find more information about the awards and the ceremonies here: www.greatbritishentrepreneurawards.com.

Apprenticeship or A-levels? 10 Questions To Ask Yourself!

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Apprenticeship or A-levels? What subjects do you pick? How will it shape your future? It’s a tough job being a student! They are all incredibly important decisions you have to make in order to get on the right track in life.

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“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life!”
– Confucius

 

By the time you have completed your GCSE’s you would have developed a good sense of ‘yourself’. It is important by this stage you understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. A good way of finding out is by doing a ‘self-evaluation’. Try to answer the following questions/statements:

 

10 Questions To Ask Yourself:

1. What am I good at?

2. What am I not so good at?

3. I like..

4. I don’t like…

5. I am interested in…

6. I am bored by…

7. I am proud of…

8. I wish I was better at…

9. People think my best points/aspects are…

10. People think my worse points are…

 

These questions will really push you to start thinking about where you fit in this big world! Everyone has a place and everyone has key strengths that will allow one to flourish in the environment they are in. 

Always go with what you are good at – these are often things that you naturally excel in and answer positively to questions 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 above. For the remaining questions, you must use it to reflect and build upon your character and see it as a way of self-development. 

 

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“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is”
– Isaac Asimov

Reflecting upon your character and your strengths mean that you can succeed in what you truly believe in to be right. If you have a strong desire to peruse quantum physics (!) because you have a natural curiosity – then attain it. If becoming a photographer or owning your own business is something that you have often found dreaming of – then make it happen! Always try  and you will find that with persistence and determination, you can go far.

 

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“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always try one more time”
– Thomas A. Edison

 

You may not even decide to continue with education after 16 – in which case there are numerous options for you to take advantage of. Apprenticeships offer a whole new world of practicality  and a wonderful environment in which to keep on learning.

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We are blessed to live in a country where education is free for all. The foundations of what we become are in fact rooted in these early years – so make the most of it. Immerse yourself in the knowledge that is bestowed upon you and relish in your self-discovery! Have faith in your strengths and give it your all. Try to be the best you can be and keep learning…the world is your oyster.

Is Algebra Actually Useful?

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You may moan about algebra, but is it useful to us in our every day lives?

Granted, we struggled to speak up on algebra’s behalf, when put on the spot. However, giving it more thought, it became apparent that algebra is important to our lives outside of a classroom.

1. Shopping 

 

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Firstly, we can relate algebra to our daily routines in life. Let’s say that you have been given £100 of birthday money and wanted to buy a games console for £60 and as many £8 games to go with it. You could use algebra to see how many games you would be able to purchase.

 We may not use letters in our head but in fact this mathematical reasoning could be written in terms of x.

60 + 8x = 100

8x = 100 – 60

8x = 40

x = 5 = numbers of console games you can buy

 

 

2. Ability to break down personal and academic problems

More importantly, this shows us how algebra gives us the ability to break down problems, turn them on their head and find solutions to issues affecting our daily life. It may not just be solving maths problems but being able to overcome obstacles of all forms.

 

3. In future careers totally unrelated to maths!

 

 

Did you know, though, that if you wanted to become an animator for a hugely successful cartoon show, you would need to use algebra to show the way your drawings can be rotated, shifted and enlarged in order to transfer them to screen. If you ever considered working as a meteorologist (we have seen the disaster films – The Day after Tomorrow2012 – how cool would that job be?), did you know that they use algebra to model weather forecasts?

 

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Our point is that whilst algebra may seem to lack meaning at the moment, hang in there because algebra gains a whole new dimension beyond the four walls of a classroom; doing your shopping in town, working at the met office, code breaking in MI5, becoming an astronomer, all jobs and tasks that we could not do without maths and algebra.

 

 

- Spark Academy

 

 

Still not convinced? Then check out the following link, you’ll be surprised how many fascinating jobs use maths, often algebra, on a daily basis.

http://startingwright.cs.wright.edu/Teacher/ingut/21-seriously-cool-careers.pdf