Saturday, 30 April 2011

marathon end in site!

It has been a very long three weeks of holiday activities covering all the Easter holidays and this weekend's mega holiday for the Royal wedding and May day holiday.
Counting the extra sessions booked by holiday clubs etc we will have done 35 Sugar and Spice shows plus 52 Sweet temptations sessions - a marathon by anyone's standards.
Well done to all the team for an heroic effort. We have looked at the science of chocolate, candy floss, jelly beans, rice crispies, popcorn and sherbet. We have made so many crispie cakes we could sink the centre and I am now thinking about running away with the fair, I am so good at making candy floss!
Hopefully everyone who has been to a session has enjoyed themselves and learnt a little more about science.
The vagaries of the English education system mean that we have only 4 weeks until the next holiday!So in the words of Monty Python for something completely different....we will be Up Close and Personal - thinking about costmetics, washing and bodily functions! What a job!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

candy floss

We are a business and so have to bring in the public whenever we can because they pay the bills! Hence this holidays theme of the science behind your sweets and chocolate. Actually I have discovered some amazing facts about how the brain reacts to sweeties, how popping candy explodes in your mouth and I can now make the coolest candy floss ever.
There is quite a skills involved in making candy floss!!
I think the best experiment we share with our visitors is the fact that you really do need your nose to experience flavour - just try eating a jelly bean while holding your nose. If you allow it to begin to dissolve a little and then let go of your nose suddenly you are filled with whatever flavour jelly bean you picked.
Try a trick on someone at home. Cut an onion in half - you can let them see you do this, have a slice of apple handy - don't let them see this. Have you victim close their eyes or blind fold them if you know they will peek! Hold the onion near their nose but feed them the apple and they will be convinced you have fed them onion! mean trick? Yes but not as mean as jelly belly "bean boozled" - you have no idea which is the nasty or the nice flavour - slightly worrying that I am developing a taste for baby wipes flavoured beans.......

Friday, 15 April 2011

In praise of student placements

Purely by accident we got roped into a foreign student placement. One of our board members asked if we could help her out by having a German language student who is also a chemist on a three week placement with us. I was not sure at first because the placement was supposed to be lab work to extend scientific English skills and three weeks with us certainly was not going to be that! h
However Carolin has been brilliant. She was a little surprised to be at a Discovery centre helping in family activities all about sweets and chocolate but we are having a fantastic time. Her English is stunning and my German is dire but we are getting on really well and she loves the shows. Two of the senior managers from the placement organisation came for a visit today. Matthias and Ulrich were amazed at quite what we were getting up to and even complemented me on my easy to understand English ( without an accent!! in their opinion) but I have to say I found it very hard not to think of Basil at Fawlty Towers when one of them bowed and clicked his heels when we shook hands.
I hope that the next two weeks are as much fun for Carolin as this one has been.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

science fun

tasty toothpaste!

Hmmmmm I wonder if I should be creative impulsively more often!
We got a phone call at Catalyst from a school desperate to get in a trip linked to their topic on Healthy Teeth and Bones. This was to be a finale to their topic but the question was - where did an activity that would fit.
"Can you create something in a hurry Sue?" I was asked - if you know me then the answer is usually "no problem!" and off I go and have a mini meltdown trying to be creative.
Well for once not only was I creative but everything worked - it worked really well!

I created a simple workshop where we looked at why we brush our teeth; how much hidden sugar there is in fizzy drink (Try the floating coke can experiment - it is very revealing - you can see it working here
Then we played with some huge teeth models I have got and brushed a giant mouth full of teeth with a giant toothbrush - of course!

Finally we made our own simple bicarbonate of soda based toothpaste which we coloured totally wacky colours to see if toothpaste really had to be minty type colours!!
We tested the toothpaste on ceramic tiles which we had drawn on with marker. The home made paste did really well compared to commercial brands. Should we set up in business I wonder!!!
I am beginning to put together the new education programme for 2011/12 and I think this has earned a place!