Friday, 29 October 2010

What a week!

Well Friday is here and boy what a week we have had. Tuesday and Wednesday especially were heaving with visitors
It has been huge fun - which is a good thing because we have worked very hard - but I am glad it is the end of the week. I don't think I could go at this pace all the time!
So a couple of days off to rest and recoup. Mike comes home from his West Africa trip today. He has been away for almost 3 weeks - I think he has missed me more than I have missed him! I have quite enjoyed the peace and quiet apart from Smartie the cat who has driven me mad!
He is so definitely Mike's cat and has wandered around the house miaowing after his dad, refusing to eat because it is me feeding him and even when he has gone out he has wandered around the garden calling after Mike. I have looked after him really well but he looks like a waif and stray. He got into a fight the other night so he has a tatty ear. Honestly! what drama!

Today's science with the public will be a breeze compared to Smartie.

So I am off to make up the chemicals for my seemingly magic tricks. Lots of colour changes and spooky smoke and of course the pumpkin. I am so impressed with myself and this pumpkin. I am going to see if we can take a video because it is so cool when the foam comes out of the eyes!!!
Still a child at heart!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Spooky Science Show

This is half term and is one of our busiest school holidays of the year. So it is always very important to put on really exciting stuff for the very many visitors we expect. This time we have pulled out all the stops - which when you consider how few of us there are - we have really gone for it. Carrie Anne is doing a slime fest in the lab - about four different types if slime, goo and gloop. I am doing a spooky science show - which means lots of dry ice smoke, chemistry magic tricks and dressing up! I am a vampire all this week!
I first created this show four years ago and when I got the script out this year I was so surprised how simple the demos were - we have really come on in the last years.
So I have updated the show and I must say I am rather pleased with it. We still have some of the traditional tricks especially a cute one where we get out four very young volunteers and do a simple neutralisation disguised as a witches potion.
This time I have some really slimy alginate worms and instead of the usual elephants toothpaste, foam everywhere, type of finale I have carved a pumpkin and do the foam thing in it - the foam comes shooting out of the mouth and eyes and is totally gross - the kids love it!
We were amazingly busy today - which is great for the business - but I am absolutely wiped out and it is only Tuesday.
Tomorrow we have a private booking - a school holiday club - first thing and then we are putting on extra shows because we had sold all the tickets today by 2.00 so we need to be prepared. 
Of course that will probably be the kiss of death for visitor numbers and we will be quiet!!!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

First time for everything!

So here I go... this is my first blog. Yes I know, as a keen IT user why have I not done this before? 
Probably because I have never really had the time to sit and get it all sorted but I have just read such a great posting about the  Women Mean Business Conference, that I thought - here I am always going on about how my job is to inspire people to get into science and maths and I have never got to grips with the technology of a blog. So sad!

So who on earth am I and why am I doing this?
I work at a brilliant science centre called Catalyst. It is a small independent centre that has lots of hands on stuff for young and old to have a go at. We are special - we focus on chemistry! 
We started life as the Museum of the Chemical Industry - can you imagine! Museum and chemistry in the same sentence!! 
Actually the concept was great - the chemical heritage of the North West was fast disappearing so why not collect as much stuff together in one place as possible; especially if that place was an old chemical works. So Catalyst was born.
But museums have changed and people don't want to just read about the old days - so a much more hands on approach was needed and Catalyst did that by making a gallery of things to do and see that would inspire young and old alike.
We've been going for about 25 years and now offer workshops and activities for schools and families all based around Chemistry but exciting, colourful and making what can be  a scary subject accessible to everyone.
This is where I come in. 
I am the Education manager and my role is to create and deliver top quality experiences for schools and the general public.
Which is why on Monday I will be dressing up in my Dracula costume and doing Spooky Science shows; making more slime than you could ever wish to see and inspiring young and old to enjoy the magic that is a chemistry show.

So after a career as a medical technical officer, then a  teacher plus being a mum and lots of other things in between, I am now a professional science communicator and I actually get paid to show off. And boy! do I love to show off - my mum says she knew this all along but I have always said I am very shy. But put me on a stage and off I go... and this includes being on TV or radio or making professionally produced DVD with a film crew et al.
I would never have believed that this was where I would be now. I thought that I would be a teacher, probably a Head and couldn't envisage leaving the school grounds. But here I am with a class of over 25,000 each year. I even get asked for my autograph - how cool is that!!