Science KS3

Welcome to the Tunnelworks KS3 Science area.

Here you'll find five 'essentials' lessons, complete with interactive online content, student worksheets and detailed lesson plans. In each lesson, students work with realistic engineering challenges and principles, typical of the kind we encounter as we design, build and operate the Thames Tideway Tunnel. 

After that, you can 'dig deeper' with follow-up ideas for more lessons for more able students. 

Finally, a CREST bronze project is outlined, if you wish to connect your work to this well regarded science award scheme.

Essentials
In lessons one and two, explore force, area and pressure using cranes on a proposed Thames Tideway Tunnel construction site, and the turning moment created when a force acts about a pivot, using the forces that come from the crane's load and the counterweight.

In lessons three and four explore the way sound behaves underwater and how hydrophones are used to survey harbour porpoise populations in the tidal River Thames. Then plan a new marine survey using sound scientific principles to collect reliable, repeatable data.

Lesson five is an environmental science lesson where students explore different habitats on the River Thames and work with food webs, classification, adaptation and interdependence through flora and fauna found there.

Dig Deeper
For lessons one and two Dig Deeper ideas explore the pressure and forces in a simple hydraulic system and the turning moments on the Tunnel Boring Machine's rotating cutter head.

In lessons three and four students can explore sound behaviour in more depth and expand their knowledge of surveying techniques to explore other areas or plan surveys for different flora and fauna.

For lesson five students set up a regular soil or bird survey, repeating the survey seasonally to measure changes in species. They record and present their data using different techniques e.g. tally charts or bar charts.

CREST Bronze Award
Research project: students can investigate how the weather and our water use are changing in London and how they create the need for an upgrade to London's sewer system. Investigative project: create two maps of your school grounds and buildings in as much detail as you can, using GPS for one map and a trundle wheel and compass for the other.

Introducing the Thames Tideway Tunnel

Watch the video to find out why we need to clean up the River Thames.

Science KS3 Lesson 1: Force, area and pressure

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Science KS3 Lesson 1: Force, area and pressure

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Screen 1.1: A main tunnel drive site will be located in Battersea. These sites are where the Tunnel Boring Machine will be lowered down a large shaft to bore the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Click next to explore the site.

Science KS3 Lesson 1: Force, area and pressure

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Screen 1.2: This is what a main tunnel drive site might look like. The large shaft is where the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) will be lowered to bore the Thames Tideway Tunnel. A large crane will lower the TBM in sections down the main shaft where it will be assembled.

Science KS3 Lesson 1: Force, area and pressure

Screen 2: Meet Rajitha, a Project Manager from Thames Tideway Tunnel and think about why the forces on a crane are so important in construction.

Science KS3 Lesson 1: Force, area and pressure

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A B C D

Screen 3.1: Look at the different forces acting on the four areas. Which one of these boxes exerts the most pressure on the ground? Click on the right answer.

Science KS3 Lesson 1: Force, area and pressure

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This crane has a mass of 48 tonnes.

What downward force does this
crane create on the ground?

a) 48,000 N

b) 480,000 N

c) 4,800 N

d) 4,800,000 N

Screen 3.2: Hover over the wheel to find out why cranes exert pressure on the ground.

Science KS3 Lesson 1: Force, area and pressure

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What’s the total surface area touching the ground, in m²?

a) 3.2m² b) 70.4m² c) 0.32m² d) 40m²

Screen 3.3: Hover over the stabilising pad to find out the impact that this larger surface area has on pressure.

Science KS3 Lesson 1: Force, area and pressure

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Imagine you need to work out the total pressure exerted by this crane when it’s at work. What extra information do you need?

Screen 3.4: What about the impact of the load? What more information do you need? Hover over the rectangle for guidance.

Science KS3 Lesson 1: Force, area and pressure

Screen 4: Did you get the answer right? Click on the video to find out.

Science KS3 Lesson 2: Forces and pivots

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Science KS3 Lesson 2: Forces and pivots

Screen 1: Play the video to meet Sarah, a Civil Engineer on the Thames Tideway Tunnel project. She’s going to talk about the turning moments of a crane.

Science KS3 Lesson 2: Forces and pivots

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Which points on this crane might experience a turning moment caused by the load?

A B C D

Screen 2.1: When a force acts at a distance from a pivot, it causes a turning moment.

Science KS3 Lesson 2: Forces and pivots

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A turning moment equals the force (N) x its distance from pivot (m).

What's the maximum turning moment this counterweight can provide? Remember to turn the mass into a force!

a) 16,000Nm b) 1,600Nm c) 160Nm d) 1,600,000Nm

Screen 2.2: Tower cranes use a counterweight to provide a balancing force for the load. Look at the formula for measuring a turning moment and calculate the correct answer.

Science KS3 Lesson 2: Forces and pivots

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Screen 2.3: Which load can be safely carried furthest from the tower (or centre) of the crane?

Science KS3 Lesson 2: Forces and pivots

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Screen 3: Use the diagram to discuss some factors that influence how cranes are positioned to work safely.

Science KS3 Lesson 2: Forces and pivots

Screen 4: Play the video to find out whether your answers are correct.

Science KS3 Lesson 3: Sound and frequencies

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Science KS3 Lesson 3: Sound and frequencies

Screen 1: An introduction to Marine Conservation Research’s acoustic survey for harbour porpoises in the River Thames

Science KS3 Lesson 3: Sound and frequencies

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Screen 2: The team detects the harbour porpoise clicks using a hydrophone that is towed behind the boat. The hydrophone has a sound-detecting element inside a liquid filled tube. The liquid needs to be a suitable medium so that sounds can travel from the seawater to the hydrophone efficiently.

Science KS3 Lesson 3: Sound and frequencies

Screen 3: Watch the video to see how an acoustic survey is conducted using hydrophones and computers

Science KS3 Lesson 3: Sound and frequencies

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Screen 4.1: This chart is a blank power spectrum (a visual representation of the frequencies in sound as they vary with time). What might the units be for the x and y axes?

Science KS3 Lesson 3: Sound and frequencies

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Screen 4.2: The x axis displays the frequency of the sound in kilohertz (kHz). The y axis displays the amplitude (the volume) of the different frequencies in decibels (dB). Where would sounds within the human range of hearing appear in the spectrum?

Science KS3 Lesson 3: Sound and frequencies

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Screen 4.3: The human ear can hear sounds up to 20,000 Hz (i.e. 20 kHz).

Science KS3 Lesson 4: Survey investigation

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Science KS3 Lesson 4: Survey investigation

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Screen 1: Harbour porpoises

Science KS3 Lesson 4: Survey investigation

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Screen 2: The research team will survey the Thames Estuary to find out how many harbour porpoises may live there. They would like your help to plan one detailed survey.

Science KS3 Lesson 4: Survey investigation

Screen 3: Watch the video to see how an acoustic survey is planned and mapped out

Science KS3 Lesson 4: Survey investigation

Screen 4: Some hints on planning your acoustic survey

Science KS3 Lesson 4: Survey investigation

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Screen 5: Your survey area.

Science KS3 Lesson 4: Survey investigation

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Screen 6: Why is this the best survey plan?

Science KS3 Lesson 4: Survey investigation

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Screen 7: This map shows where the research team found harbour porpoises. How could the team add to their data to tell us more about harbour porpoises in the Thames Estuary?

Science KS3 Lesson 4: Survey investigation

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Screen 8.1: Reasons for surveying.

Science KS3 Lesson 4: Survey investigation

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Screen 8.2: Reasons for surveying.

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

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Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

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Screen 1a: Like any river, the River Thames changes as it flows towards the sea. You will find different habitats and plants and animals in these habitats. This habitat is upstream towards the river’s source.

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

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Screen 1b: This habitat is in the City of London.

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

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Screen 1c: This habitat is downstream towards the sea.

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

Screen 2: Create a food chain or web.

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

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Screen 3a: Adaptations help a species live successfully in its habitat. What adaptations do these animals have?

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

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Screen 3b: Adaptations help a species live successfully in its habitat. What adaptations do these animals have?

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

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Screen 4: Human impacts.

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

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Screen 5a: Human impacts and adaptations.

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

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Screen 5b: Human impacts and adaptations.

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

Screen 6: Watch the video to find out why we need to clean up the River Thames.

Science KS3 Lesson 5: Habitats investigation

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Screen 7: What could you do to help the River Thames stay clean and safe for wildlife?