Saturday, 14 January 2017

British Science Week Information

Just in case you haven't heard......
British Science Week 2017 will be held on 10th - 19th March
All over the country people will be engaging with science through schools or their local community or perhaps a science centre or museum,
This year the theme is Change which could be the changing seasons, the environment, the climate, energy or changing materials.
We are very happy with that last one because we have a super set of shows and workshops that fit changing materials exactly!

We are running a brilliant 50% discount offer for booking All Change - you can find details on our website here:
We have also decided to extend the"week" because so many schools want to take part so our Science Week starts on Monday 6th and will run until Fri 17th.

The BSW website has some brilliant resources to help you get the most out of your science week
although they would be great at anytime. The  Activity packs are now available to download for Early Years, Primary and Secondary. They are full of ideas for hands on activities.

Thursday 16th will be Demo Day when everyone is encouraged to excite pupils with a demonstration. There are ideas on the website for secondary schools but we have lots of ideas for primary.
Some of them can be found on the YouTube Primary Science Clips here:

but we are offering to help with ideas on other themes if schools get in touch. Why not pick a demo and use it in assembly or teach it to year 6 and let them share it with the younger ones

One of the easiest ways to get involved is through the citizen science project Penguin Watch which is a very large ongoing project to collect data on penguins. All you have to do is look at a camera image and click on whether you can see an adult or a chick penguin. Sometimes  it is so snowy you can't see anything  and sometimes there is nothing to see but the view!
You'll find the link on the BSW website - the link is at the top of this blog
Have a go and see for yourself!
Image result for penguin

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Review of the Year

Happy New Year to all our friends!
I thought we would share with you a review of the year and some pictures from 2016.

 This year has been one of ups and downs.
The good times - WOW! great events such as BigBang North West and Chem4All with LJMU but also we have missed getting together with old friends because budgets in schools are so tight that they haven't been able to afford us. That is very sad because we know how enjoyable a day with us is and how inspiring it can be for the staff.

our friends at Chestnut Lodge

We have tried hard whenever we have secured funding to share it around and we were thrilled when Mexichem sponsored a day with our friends at Chestnut Lodge. We had so much fun and even though we were saying goodbye and good luck to some of the older pupils we knew we had made an impact.

We had a wonderful if exhausting week at Ellesmere Port Boat museum with local schools at a STEM event organised by IGNITE. Every day we met new pupils and shared our smart materials workshops with them and made bath bombs to take home. We made over 500 during the week and smelled so much of the bubble gum fragrance that we stopped noticing it....our families didn't!

We met new schools this year - some in Cheshire and others in Liverpool where word seemed to get round about us resulting in a flurry of bookings. We also worked with AllAboutSTEM and Techniquest Glyndwr doing shows and workshops

Towards the end of the summer term we got busier and busier as schools used us for an end of year treat. We were happy to be asked back to a primary school by their PTA who decided rather than an end of year disco they would have a science show!

End of June/beginning of July was the culmination of the amazing Chem4All year. This project at LJMU is a long term intervention enthusing staff and pupils in Merseyside schools. We were part of the celebrations - three days of shows and loads of dry ice!

Probably the highlight of the year was BigBang North West which had a new venue - the Liverpool Exhibition Centre right on the waterfront. An amazing venue suitable for an amazing event. It just gets bigger and better each year.
Again we were on the main stage but this time because we were all in the one hall everyone stopped what they were doing to come and watch - 100s of people all fascinated by our science. The publicity pictures are incredible, the Tweets went wild on the day and overnight Helen became the poster girl for the event!!

This Autumn has been much quieter but that has given us time to be creative and we have updated our shows, streamlined our workshops and gathered some great gizmos. We are already getting bookings for British Science Week and our birthday month discount offer so it looks like things will be just as exciting in 2017. Our adventure continues.......

Tuesday, 13 December 2016


The classic way to make your own indicator whether it is as a liquid or paper is to use red cabbage which is readily available at this time of year in the UK.

I think the easiest way to do it is to chop up the cabbage - depending on how much indicator you are making you will probably only need a quarter -  and boil in water until it is soft. 

Discard the cabbage and keep the now purple liquid. Once cool you have your indicator - one small tip red cabbage juice smells  and it gets worse the longer you keep it!

BTW I know that many high schools and chemists extract the indicator using solvents but I really think it works just as well using water and boiling up plus primary schools often won't have access to chemicals but use whatever method you want to.

If you are making indicator paper I have found the best  to use is cheap watercolour paper in a pad. You could use coffee filter paper or even school filters but art paper is by far the cheapest and  available in large sheets.
Use a large tray and immerse the paper then let it soak up the colour. Let it dry and cut into strips - there you have it.

You can use larger pieces for pH painting where you dip either cheap paintbrushes or cotton buds into solutions of different pH such as clear vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and then when you paint you will get different colours depending on the pH of the liquid.

You will get reds and pinks in acids, purple in neutral and greens and blues in alkali.

If you don't want the smell of cabbage or you want to do this is summer then you can use pretty much any plant that has a purple colour - squish them up and use the juice. Blackberries work well.

some children testing household solutions with indicator paper we have made

At this time of year poinsettia plants are all over the place and the red bracts chopped up and gently cooked ( or extracted with solvent) give a reddish juice which again is an indicator.

This brilliant poster is part of CompoundChemical's advent calendar which if you are not following it you need to do!
At the time of writing this is the live link

The posters are so good that I am sure they will be archived

Many red and purple plants contain anthocyanins—you may have read about a colourful diet being healthy due to this group. You can also see it in roses and most easily hydrangea which can be turned red or blue by changing the pH of the soil they are growing in.

There are other natural indicators—Turmeric is one, going bright red in alkaline solutions—you don’t get a range of colours but it is quite a startling colour change and great for pH painting.

the change from yellow to bright red 

Fascinating Fact: did you know that litmus paper was made from lichen??

Friday, 18 November 2016

Classroom Display Competition

Do you have great wall displays in your school?
Are you a creative talent when it comes to displays for science?

STEM Learning have launched a competition to find great ideas and resources using classroom displays. You could win £200 of your choice of vouchers.

All you need to do is photograph your display and have files for supporting work that go with it and enter!
Here is the link to the main page for entries.

There are two categories - primary and secondary.

It couldn't be easier!

Closing date for uploading your entry is 7th December and the winners will be notified on 14th so justs in time for a Christmas treat!

If you are stuck for ideas just browse online - so many teachers here and abroad share their work and many are rightly proud of their displays.

I just searched for science classroom displays on Pinterest ( that ever expanding resource) and found so many stunning images.

Do you remember Belair the books all about amazing displays? They are still around - published by Collins and they have some on science.

I also found lots of older Belair books on ebay really cheaply...always worth a look for inspiration.

Here are just a few ideas to whet your appetite:

with thanks to all the wonderful teachers, technicians and classroom assistants for sharing their work on Pinterest

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Bonfire night chemistry

This weekend in the UK we look forward to one of our traditional celebrations - Bonfire Night.

The hour has changed so it is dark early enough to have a bonfire and set off fireworks or to go to an organised event.

 Compound Interest have some super posters and articles explaining the science behind not only the colours but also the sounds of fireworks.

this is a great poster - all you ever wanted to know

so now you know how a firework whistles!

I really recommend you visit the website because there are super articles to go with the posters.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Halloween Science

It is close to that time of year again!
Here are some ideas for fun experiments. Just check out Pinterest to see what those amazing American home school mums get up to.

Fill some thin latex gloves with coloured water and spooky bits such as plastic spiders, googly eyes etc then freeze.
Once frozen you can either use warm water and drizzle over or sprinkle salt and watch the hands slowly melt revealing the spooky bits. Lots of fun for small folk!

You've probably tried  using vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to blow up a balloon. But why not try this alternative for Halloween - a white balloon with ghost eyes and mouth. Another idea is to do the freaky hand using a thin latex glove which you can draw fingernails on or make it have hairy knuckles.

Of course we have to go one better... it took quite a bit of tweaking to get the right amount of vinegar and bicarb to blow this veterinary examination glove up.

I came across this gloriously messy activity on Pinterest - a bowl full of the most gruesome gunge and other creepy stuff covered in bubbles. The brave victim has to feel through the bubbles revealing the "horrors" beneath. (Not sure why but the pasta freaks me out the most!)

This is a brilliant idea from Left Brain Craft Brain
Using a brain mould - I went on AmazonUK and found lots of different ones in all sizes including life size. You can fill the mould with a variety of gungy materials. They have used left over cornflour gloop which was quite thick but you could make this edible using jelly with spooky sweets in it or green coloured blancmange. 

I love this slime with added spooky bits

Here is a slightly different take on slime - I love the eyes. This is really for those who don't want the mess everywhere or for really little ones who wouldn't be able to resist trying a bite! Sensory bags are great fun at any time of the year but this is super for Halloween.
There are so many different slime recipes around. You will see PVA school glue used which gives an opaque result but American's often use clear Elmer's school glue for this transparent effect. I have discovered that you can buy it now on AmazonUK and you can still get Borax - there is nothing else that will produce the wonderful slime effect as well. You will probably have to go online for it since the EU directive ban on it as a food substance and cleaning additive.

Finally I thought you might like to see this........

A few years ago we did a Spooky Science show at Catalyst Science Discovery Centre and created this pumpkin puke demo.

This can be done using the classic Elephant's toothpaste which is hydrogen peroxide, washing up liquid and either potassium or sodium iodide. The result is spectacular but messy because of the iodine yellow everywhere plus we wanted to be able to repeat this demo four times a day for a week so clearing up the mess everytime wasn't an option.

So we used what is often called the "safe" method using hydrogen peroxide, liquid soap and a warm solution of dried yeast. After a bit of tweaking the result was pretty great!
If you follow the link you can find a short YouTube clip

Have a great Halloween and enjoy the science!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


Welcome readers and blog followers

Science2U publishes an electronic newsletter which until now has been monthly.
As you can imagine this takes quite a bit of effort and this blog has suffered as a result.

So we have decided to make the newsletter half termly and any extras/news etc will be published on this blog.

So for our first bit of news.

British Science Week 2017 10th - 19th March

There are grants available to help you fund a science event.
Up to £300 for a school event
Up to £700 for an event which involves your school and wider community
Between £500 and £1000 for those falling in the under represented in science community group.

We have worked with schools who have qualified for funding and I thought you might be interested to hear of a couple.

One school went for a Kickstart more grant which involved their local community.
They booked us for a morning of shows with the pupils and then the afternoon had two hands on session with families. Staff helped us to run a fun workshop of experiments for all the family.

Another school used their money to book us for an extra long day of shows - school children in the morning, family in the afternoon and an early evening open event for their  village.

One idea we had was to work with some pupils to help them put on a science show for the wider community - great for your budding science presenters

It is definitely worth looking into seeing whether you could organise an event that would qualify.

Have fun!!