Half-term was very busy for us - providing two days off fun science activities for the Bright Science Festival. As well as our usual busking tricks, there were candle workshops, blow airplanes, rain sticks (see picture) and doodletops to investigate.
We had a great time at the ASE's Annual Conference in Liverpool with many visitors to our stand who enjoyed making things while chatting about how to get children to think and work scientifically. Our talks were all popular with each one getting double the expected number of delegates. Here you can see them exploring the umbragraph - a fun way to see how shadows develop during the day..
This year's conference is buzzing with a great variety of talks and exhibitions. We have a range of hands-on activities at our stand (C18) for all our visitors to try out. If you are attending, come along to chat to us and have a go - make a ballon buggy or a jumping bean or even dip a candle. We'd love to see you!
Sorting things out was the order of the day last week as we visited several schools to do the "Sorting Things" workshop with them. This was on behalf of Urenco who support primary science in this way. Not only did the pupils learn a lot about separation techniques, they also found out about Urenco and had done some of the work required to earn BSA Superstar status.
We were delighted that the Association for Science Education has chosen to use a picture of us in action for the online brochure cover of its forthcoming Annual Conference. You can see it here - some teachers investigating Buggies at our stand at a previous conference. Above you can see what happened when they let go of their creations!
We attended the Institute of Physics' INTERACT Conference this week where we were able to meet many other science outreach providers. It was very stimulating and interesting.
Here's Martin explain some of our activities to other delegates.
Once again, over the past couple of weeks, we were involved with providing practical science sessions for visiting Swedish students.
All the sessions were very successful. The students proved to be very adept investigators - finding out about photovoltaic cells (see above) and comparing the Vitamin C content of different citrus fruits.
Y10 students from Wakefield High School for Girls and the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School spent three days last week providing science workshops for 340 local Y5 pupils. They spent a day learning a few activities (see above) and then two days teaching them.
Everyone had a lot of fun and several Y5 pupils decided they now wanted to go to either of the secondary schools when they move up to Y7.
Enthusiastic students from Sweden discovering how much Vitamin C is in different citrus fruits - just one of the activities at their Easter school in Kent which we were pleased to provide. As well as tackling this investigation, they also had to communicate in English all the time!
Fortunately, they had some English pupils working with them.
We were proud to be part of The Big Bang yet again. This year saw our first ever “Completely Chemistry” family event on the Saturday.
We had five different chemistry investigations including: testing fruits for their Vitamin C content; marbling; and seeing how temperature affects a reaction. The explosions made by the latter were very popular indeed!
Altogether about 2,000 people took part.
Brighton is an exciting place to be any time but February half term was the amazing Brighton Science Festival. We had a great time at City College with science investigators of all ages trying our miscellany of activities "Science for a Winter Afternoon". There was a selection of DIY make-and -takes, shows with Sarah, candle mini-workshops with Meg, paper marbling and chromatography with our brilliant volunteers and a family straw tower challenge. Thank you to everyone who took part!
We were pleased to be involved with the NuGen "Bright Sparks" initiative which was launched last week in Cumbria. The launch day allowed budding Y9 engineers to find out more about this exciting carer path.
Their engineering skills were tested when we asked them to build a self-supporting straw tower (highest was 1.9m) and they also had to see how much electricity they could generate by investigating the design of a model wind turbine.
As you can see, this was so exciting, they even had to have a go while having their lunch!
Primary teachers from Sheffield had a great time recently at a drop-in session organised by Sarah. They had chance to try out lots of fun practical activities that they could easily do back in class.
'Informative and useful to see a use of simple resources that can be used across the curriculum' Mark
‘Thank you for the activities, they will be really useful. I enjoyed your workshop, it was good doing something hands on rather than sitting and listening.’ Julie
Last week's ASE Annual Conference was great place to be. Our stand was constantly busy with delegates wanting to make jumping beans and rollers, dipping candles and puzzling out how the 'magic' bottle worked.
One teacher from the Netherlands later contacted us to say he is now making just such a bottle.
Don't worry - Sarah isn't shooting the delegate above but demonstrating a very interesting optical illusion which forms part of our Street Science show.
And our two talks about practical activities in the primary classroom were well-attended too.
Come along and have a go at some of our activities. This week we're at the ASE Annual Conference on stand C17 (easy to find - it's the colourful one!) and will have loads of things for you to try, and some things for you to make and take away with you.
We're also giving two talks on practical classroom science activities.
Hope to see you there!
Pupils at John Burns Primary School in London had an explosive morning of chemistry recently.
They worked out how to mix and separate solids without touching the components, and how solids and gasses can be mixed with liquids and separated again.
Then speed, dexterity and teamwork were essential for accurate and safe working. Thermometers, syringes and timers were used in quick succession, and many sections of Vitamin C tablets in 10ml of water released enough carbon dioxide to blow the lids off dozens of pill pots.
And all before lunch!
Families gasped, cheered, asked questions and gave answers during our science shows at Cork City Hall. Approximately 1000 people enjoyed our shows over four performances, being challenged to think how the tricks worked.
One parent said, "This show was not just for the kids, the adults really enjoyed it and learnt a lot as well."
Another parent said, "I’m going to try that at home."
Over the past week, 300 children in primary schools in Ellesmere Port and the surrounding area had an exciting and fun-filled workshop. Working in teams of two or three, the children had a series of problems to solve all concerned with separating mixtures or sorting things out.
The picture shows one team from St Mary of the Angels Catholic Primary School using an indicator to sort out unknown substances into acid, alkali or neutral. They had already made extensive observations to see how they differed visually.
Other challenges involved: separating a dry mixture of salt/lentils/pasta without using their fingers; chromatography; centrifuging. And all done in just 90 minutes!
Every year, many schools in the local area get this workshop provided free of charge thanks to sponsorship from Urenco plc.
And the response?
"Best science lesson ever!"
"Thank you for a really informative and practical afternoon which really engaged the children."
120 primary pupils each day are investigating solar cells in our workshop at this year's Milton Keynes "Chemistry at Work" event.
Everyone has the chance to make and investigate a solar-powered fan. The cold weather has deterred no one from being outside to find out how to make their own fans turn as fast as possible. They are amazed to see their fans work even under cloud cover!
The most popular activity is when they link up more than one cell to see just how much faster they can make their fans whizz round.
Sphere Science provided practical activities at the Nugen’s Bright Sparks energy event on 29 September in Cumbria.
About 120 Y11 students from local schools took part in our practical challenges.
We ran six quick challenges:
· design a wind turbine power
· build the tallest straw towers
· make the slowest marble run
· investigate solar energy
· make and investigate a balloon-powered car
· make and investigate elastic band rollers
The winning tower held the marble at a height of 1.86m, the slowest marble down the plastic board took 15.96 seconds and one group lifted 75 weights (nearly 400g) with their model wind turbine.
Balloon buggies and rollers were taken home by enthusiastic visitors to try again and modify later.