From smoke signals and semaphore to text messages; telecommunications was the theme of the latest Science lecture in the ever popular annual series of talks for schools at King Edward’s School Witley.
David Hall, professional actor and former Science teacher, brought alive the tale of the famous inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, in his one-man-show earlier this month. His interactive story-telling explained how telecommunication started and how it has evolved to the connected world of today with iPhones and iPads.
Year 7 pupils from King Edward’s, together with Year 5 and 6 pupils from eight local prep schools heard how, as a boy, Bell was fascinated by sound; he grew up with an almost completely deaf mother and a father who helped deaf people to speak. This inspired him to begin working with the hard of hearing leading him to apply his skills to a number of projects including the invention of the tetrahedral kite in the 1890s; several flying machines (including the Silver Dart) and the Hydrofoil which set a world record for speed.
Pupils learned that when Bell was asked to improve the telegraph machine, he hit upon another idea. Rather than sending a code along an electrical wire, it might be possible to send the sound of a human voice along a wire and with the help of his assistant, Thomas Watson, they built a device that just might work. A subsequent accident proved him right, and the telephone was born.
Encouraged to participate, pupils had a go at smoke signals, Morse Code, semaphore, nautical flags and pennants and at one point even a ‘human carrier pigeon’ flew into the proceedings with a secret message strapped to his leg!
A Year 7 pupil, Chris said, “It was an excellent lecture - engaging and funny.”
Commenting on the event, John Attwater, Headmaster, said, “The Science Lecture workshops have become an extremely popular fixture within our teaching programme and we are delighted to be able to share this exciting and fun way of learning with pupils from schools in the local community. David’s lecture reputation precedes him and places are always fully booked. Science and technology are key to the success of today’s children and by making this learning entertaining as well as informative, it will inspire the next generation of scientists and inventors whose discoveries will shape our future world.”