Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

A to Z Index

Paxton’s Palace
Music: Sir Arthur Sullivan
Sir Joseph Paxton not only designed the venue for the Great Exhibition of 1851, he embodied the festival’s most cherished principles.

JOSEPH Paxton one day confided to John Ellis MP, a fellow board-member of the Midland Railway, that he had designed a building truly fit to host the forthcoming Great Exhibition of 1851, the exciting showcase for Imperial science and industry destined for Hyde Park. Ellis gave Paxton just nine days to submit a formal application.

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Six Posts
The Lessons of Nature
Music: Muzio Clementi
Samuel Smiles shows us two great achievements inspired by two tiny creatures.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

WHILE Captain (afterwards Sir Samuel) Brown was occupied in studying the construction of bridges, with the view of contriving one of a cheap description to be thrown across the Tweed, near which he lived, he was walking in his garden one dewy autumn morning, when he saw a tiny spider’s net suspended across his path.

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Dr Wollaston
Music: Johann Baptist Cramer
William Hyde Wollaston discovered new elements and helped Faraday to greatness, all from the top of a tea-tray.

AFTER graduating in medicine from Gonville and Caius in 1793, and practising as a rural doctor in Cambridgeshire for a few years, William Wollaston came into family money and settled in London, free to indulge his passion for chemistry.

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The Fleming Valve
Music: York Bowen
A Victorian children’s book inspired the birth of modern electronics.

FANNY Umphelby’s ‘Child’s Guide To Knowledge’ can have had few readers more devoted, or more distinguished in later life, than Ambrose Fleming.

Her collection of scientific facts sparked his long career at University College, London, and at the Marconi Company, assisting in the first transatlantic radio transmissions.

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John Logie Baird
Baird’s inventions didn’t always work as well as his televisions.

IN 1923, John Logie Baird pressed an old hatbox, a pair of scissors, some darning needles, a handful of lenses taken from bicycle lights, a tea chest, and some glue into service, and made the world’s first working tv set.

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A Man called ‘Beta’
For a perennial ‘runner-up’, Eratosthenes had a peculiar knack of being first.

BY day, Eratosthenes was responsible for the world-famous library in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. He tutored the Pharaoh’s sons, and - no mean poet himself - amassed a superb collection of the epic poetry, plays and philosophical writings of ancient Greece.

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Mr Faraday
two-part story
Music: Jan Ladislav Dussek; Sir William Sterndale Bennett
Faraday’s work on electromagnetism made him an architect of modern living, and one of Albert Einstein’s three most revered physicists.

YOUNG Michael Faraday worked in a bookshop, so he had plenty to read. He did not spurn his good fortune, and was especially fascinated by science and electricity.

One customer, the eminent pianist William Dance, spotted Michael’s enthusiasm and sent him tickets to Sir Humphrey Davy’s famous public lectures.

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All Posts
Tagged Science and Scientists (18 posts)
page 1
1 Paxton’s Palace
Sir Joseph Paxton not only designed the venue for the Great Exhibition of 1851, he embodied the festival’s most cherished principles.
2 Mary Anning
A twelve-year-old girl from Lyme Regis made a historic discovery while selling seashells to tourists.
3 The Ladies’ Diary
A long-lived annual of riddles, rhymes and really hard maths aimed specifically at Georgian Britain’s hidden public of clever women.
4 John Dalton
At fifteen John Dalton was a village schoolmaster in Kendal; at forty he had published the first scientific theory of atoms.
5 Alan Blumlein
Railway enthusiast, music lover, and the man who gave us stereo sound.
6 Dr Wollaston
William Hyde Wollaston discovered new elements and helped Faraday to greatness, all from the top of a tea-tray.
page 2
7 Mr Faraday
Faraday’s work on electromagnetism made him an architect of modern living, and one of Albert Einstein’s three most revered physicists.
8 The Lessons of Nature
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Samuel Smiles shows us two great achievements inspired by two tiny creatures.
9 Observation
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Great inventions come from those who notice what they see.
10 The Music of the Spheres
Sir William Herschel not only discovered Uranus and infrared radiation, but composed two dozen symphonies as well.
11 Penicillin
An improbable chain of coincidences led to one of the great medical revolutions just when it was most needed.
12 Sir Humphry Davy
A Cornish professor of chemistry with a poetic turn who helped make science a popular fashion.
page 3
13 The Fleming Valve
A Victorian children’s book inspired the birth of modern electronics.
14 The Ladder with Twenty-Four Rungs
The Duke of Argyll was pleasantly surprised to find one of his gardeners reading a learned book of mathematics - in Latin.
15 A Man called ‘Beta’
For a perennial ‘runner-up’, Eratosthenes had a peculiar knack of being first.
16 John Logie Baird
Baird’s inventions didn’t always work as well as his televisions.
17 Edmond Halley
Edmond Halley will forever be associated with the comet named after him, but his greatest achievement was getting Sir Isaac Newton to publish ‘Principia Mathematica’.
18 The Star that Winked
John Goodricke’s observations of Algol won him the Copley Medal while still in his teens, despite his disability.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Adjectives

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘As You Were’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

Polyword

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, including one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or London (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

More Puzzles
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with TOWN and finish with CITY.
Do you know ‘glittering crown’ (6 letters), and ‘dark and gloomy’ (5 letters)?
Do you know ‘complaint’ (4 letters), and ‘be the right size and shape for a space’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘satisfied’ (7 letters), and ‘warm and cosy’ (4 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
top topics
History (379)
Fiction (82)

letters game

Make words from two or more of the tiles below. What is the highest-scoring word you can make?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

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numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic