Monday, 11 January 2016

A Review of our First Science Club

Last term we ran our first after school science club with Summerhill primary school Maghull.

The logistics of this sort of event mean that there has to be a minimum number paying in advance to make it financially viable plus enough free dates in our diary to accommodate such a commitment.

Summerhill had 33 pupils from KS2 who signed up and paid which meant we were able to buy some great resources and consumables.  We also worked on a Monday which is our quietest day and we happened to have 6 Mondays in a run, free.

The next thing was to work with the school, thinking about what sort of activities would work, how many helpers were needed for each session and where the club would take place.

We were able to get to know staff - especially in the office - so that we could arrive and set up in the hall without having to pull a teacher out of class. We also worked closely with the caretaking staff so that they trusted us not to make a mess or leave unsuitable chemicals and equipment around. They gave us access to their cleaning room which was brilliant as it was straight off the hall, had plenty of hot water and let us wash all our equipment before we left.
So this is what we got up to.....

Week 1

We were quite ambitious because we wanted to start with a WOW so we went for acids and alkalis using home made indicator. We taught pipette technique which we would use on a few occasions during the club, how to behave in a "lab" - which is very hard when you are super excited -  and working methodically - also quite hard for young ones.
We collected a range of household liquids which we tested either with home made indicator paper or liquid.
We then asked each small group to choose their best acid, alkali and neutral liquid to test and to share their results. Everyone felt very scientific and behaved extremely well following our safety rules.



Week 2


This was the first of two weeks exploring colour. We looked at how our eyes work including optical illusions and seeing in colour.
We then used colour paddles to mix light to get different colours and saw how light and pigment are different. We used the amazing rainbow glasses to split up light.
We then mixed colours using the 3 primary colours which was great fun and improved on our pipette skills.
Finally we made home made lava lamps and turning off the main lights put a torch underneath to make an awesome effect.


Week 3


The second week of colour explored splitting colour up using chromatography.
We looked at how it works by joining the chromatography bus ( you really had to be there!!) and then used paper and waterbased pens to split up mixtures


Then we got adventurous and used permanent markers and alcohol to create an almost tie dye effect on material with some very artistic results



Week 4

This was a week all about electricity especially light.
The room was in darkness as the children came in and our display of light sources brought the expected WOW! response
We used lots of different torches to show that you don't necessarily need batteries to power a torch!
We had a play with our plasma ball.
Then we turned on the lights and went into lab mode to test a huge range of objects to see if they were conductors or insulators using our amazing energy sticks



Week 5

This week was all about pretty amazing polymers and we set homework too!!
We thought about plastics all around us and what impact they have had on our lives.
We looked at polymers such as instant snow, the incredible disappearing hydrogel balls, nappies and then we used a thermo moulding plastic.
The small granules transform to a stretchy clear strand at about 45degrees C. So after lots of exploring what it felt like and how to mould it we finally made keyrings to take home.
Oh and the homework?? using dehydrated hydrogel balls we challenged everyone to rehydrate them in the most unusual liquid they could find at home and bring them back to show us the next week.





Homework results!!

oil doesn't work!!



Week 6

Our last week with these super scientists so we wanted to make it a bit special!
The theme was How Clean are You??
We looked at why we needed to keep clean to be healthy and had quite a gross session on all the things our bodies produce everyday including wind, shed skin and snot!
We then looked close up at plaque on our teeth and decided we needed to try out some toothpaste. We made homemade paste which we tested against shop bought. We didn't use our own teeth though!




And finally........

We were very close to Christmas so we made bath bombs like Christmas puddings smelling of mince pies!!


We had an incredible time with our new friends at Summerhill Primary. Huge thanks to Ms Lindsay Rannard for organising it all, to the parents for funding, helping with the plastics week and joining in so enthusiastically with the homework.
Every week Twitter was alive with photos and comments
Running a science club isn't something we can do all the time but is definitely something we shall try again. It has been super getting to know a group of very excited, enthusiastic and dedicated scientists.
Hope to see them again!











Tuesday, 5 January 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!




Welcome to 2016 and along with pretty much everyone on the web we are having a look back at the year just gone.
Actually as a company it is quite a good idea to review the year to see the highs and rejoice and to look at the lows and wonder how we could have handled it differently.

One way for us to look at the year is to read this blog and see what we have been up to, I have also had a look back through our Twitter and Facebook pages to pick up what we thought were memorable enough events to record.
One advantage for our followers/readers is that being on stage means we don't bombard everyone with live Tweets....."I'm just climbing the stairs to the stage...."

If the day is great we tell you, if not we are probably drowning our sorrows somewhere or having a bath!!
We also love to share pictures, again it is rare for us to be able to take them during an event, so images usually come from the audience. Of course this means that we cannot pose....why do I always have my mouth wide open????? But we also get some great pictures from teachers that show the awe and wonder of their pupils. Which is why we do this job after all.

So here are some of our best bits from 2015


lots of time spent packing

a return visit to Blacon




new friends made at two schools in Wallasey


Of course Big Bang North West




Super Chemistry@work days at Daresbury Labs with the team from MerseySTEM


Our first after school science club




A new partnership with Techniquest Glyndwr





another new partnership with Liverpool John Moores University




working with the public for the first time at Ness Gardens

I think they liked us because we went back for Halloween




two great days with our good friends at Knowsley Park


a wonderful sponsored day at Chestnut Lodge special school








and of course lots and lots of dry ice!


We've had a super year - here's to an even better 2016







Saturday, 5 December 2015

Science club week 5

This week we were exploring pretty amazing polymers.
First we investigated a range of polymer shapes that absorbed water and grew.
We set up an experiment with spheres, nuggets and cubes covered with hot and cold water to see which began to grow quickest.
We then had a closer look at our amazing disappearing balls.

Is there anything in there? Whoah 100s of them!


Today's make was very exciting. We used a low temperature thermo moulding plastic which transforms from lots of little beads to a clear, stretchy piece which you can mould.
We have used thermoplastics before but this one transforms at about 45 degrees which meant it was ultra safe to use with younger pupils.
First everyone transformed their beads and had a good play noticing how long it took to go too hard to mould. With the low temperature it was lovely and warm to use but not too hot to handle or too sticky.


It was so easy to warm it and make it pliabletodan so after two or three goes we then added a key chain to our blob before pushing it into a mould full of glitter.
If it started to harden we just popped it into warm water again to soften it.

Then it needed to cool for about 10 minutes to go hard enough to pop out of the mould



Just before we all went home we set some homework!
Everyone got a cup with about half a teaspoon of dried hydrogel  balls. The instructions were to grow them in a liquid at home during the week. Any liquid-the more different types the better. Next week we will see which grew best and try to think why!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Science club week 4

This week we wanted to do something totally different.
After three weeks of pipettes and chemicals this came as quite a surprise!
We were exploring how we use electricity especially with light.
Even the room was different - although that was because we needed to be near power sockets.

As the club members entered there were gasps of amazement at the display ranging from the plasma ball through fibre optics and even a disco ball!
Children and parents leaving school made lots of comments about how exciting it all looked. Another great advert for the club!

We explored how you can use movement to make a torch light up. We have a collection of different ones - wind up, dynamo and shaker torches.
We also looked at lots of gadgets that seem to be almost magic like cosmic balls. As this was science club we investigated how they all really worked!
We had a go at the plasma ball and finally the energy stick.

Then it as time for an investigation.
Using the energy stick which lights up and makes a noise when in a complete circuit everyone chose from a huge selection of objects to see whether they were a good conductor of electricity or an insulator.
This is such an easy way to create circuits and lots of noisy fun - which is what science club is all about!