22 January 2020
Lower 4 participated in an explosive interdisciplinary learning session this week, combining drama, ethics, science, history and English to enhance their understanding about the Gunpowder Plot. The girls had a range of lessons which looked at different elements of the gunpowder plot story: they explored the character of Guy Fawkes in drama; discussed the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter in ethics, and investigated whether the plotters were set-up by the government in history.
Most exciting, was the opportunity to learn how gunpowder was made, and understand how the different ingredients combine to form an explosive chemical reaction in their science and design session. Students learned how gunpowder evolved from the ancient Chinese recipe to the later one that would have been used by Guy Fawkes et al. They saw it being mixed before being set on fire, to compare how the burn rate differs as the ratio of ingredients is altered. It culminated with an explosion using a blast tube, to witness what happens when it is confined – causing quite a few squeals and screams.
As well as an exploration of the event through creative writing, the girls also enjoyed award winning children’s author, Ally Sherrick, writer of ‘Black Powder’, who gave a talk to the students at the end of the day. She spoke about her path to becoming a published author and her inspiration and research for her novel, followed by a book signing.
Andrew Morris, who coordinated the event, first had to undergo a lengthy and rigorous process to obtain an explosives license, stating, ‘I had police interviews, background checks, training with the Wimborne militia and almost set fire to my garden fence when practising. We’re not aware of any other schools who have this licence, and the firearms officer’s first words when he interviewed me were, “This is a rather unusual request”.’ He added, ‘Huge thanks to everyone who was involved in making gunpowder day such a success.’