Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas Greetings

Have a wonderful Christmastime

and a 
Peaceful New Year
Helen and Sue  

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Winter Tour 2013

Well what a week it has been! Busy - certainly, tiring - definitely. fun - OH YES!!!
Over the 3 days of the road trip we visited 6 schools, delivered 8 shows and shared science with over 1000 pupils.
Monday was a preparation day so I was running through the various demonstrations we would be doing, checking equipment and making sure the experiments actually worked.
Tuesday was spent weighing out chemicals, packing up our boxes and then the car and working out directions to the schools plus timings for journeys.
Wednesday morning we were off!
First stop St Ambrose Barlow CHS in Sefton.
We were in a super amphitheatre style lecture hall with great acoustics.
This school is definitely into social media and very quickly we were trending on Twitter with a flurry of super pictures, tweets, retweets and favourites.
Iron filings

bubbles from dry ice

All too soon the first show was over and we were off again - this time to Kirky High school in a small lecture theatre after being assured we wouldn't set off the alarms ( fingers crossed!)
We were close to the hall so carrying all the gear was easy and we were soon set up and ready to go. First we had year 8 who certainly enjoyed the show and joined in enthusiastically. The venue was too small for all the pupils so we did a shorter show and then went straight into a 2nd show with year 9 who were full of questions about how the science worked.

Thursday morning was so windy it became a real problem to load the car but off we went to Knowsley Park Centre for Learning. Their caretaker was such a huge help because we couldn't cope with the high winds and our boxes - lids flying off, doors slamming shut, car doors flinging open. It was a relief to be inside and out of the wind.
We had a great time with year 7 who were really amazed at some of our science demonstrations and had lots of questions. Mr Reed from the school was taking photos and the results are incredible as you can see - especially the long exposure whoosh bottle from our finale.
dry ice

the plasma ball

is it magic? neutralisation demonstration
notice the pink liquid turning to clear

With help from the caretaking staff we managed to pack the car and gingerly drove to Maghull - police were out in force to guide cars across some of the more exposed bridges. Finally we arrived at our only primary school of the trip - St Thomas'.
Two shows - one for the infants - such a delight especially with the colour changing straws and the freaky hand. Then the juniors and a special guest appearance for two strong gentlemen from year 6 hoping to be scientists one day who helped us to unload, as they became amazing human light switches with our plasma ball
Helen catches a dry ice bubble

dry ice fun

how hot are your hands?

the faces say it all

Friday- so it must be Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy in Runcorn- a beautiful new building but the Learning Plaza where we were performing was a real wind tunnel which caused huge problems with the milk powder flame ball - I think I still have most of the hairs on my arm!!

Finally off across country to Lymm High School and a huge traditional school hall with tiered seating at the back for over 300 yr 7s who were very excited to be having a show on a Friday afternoon!!
Again we had problem with draughts blowing out our Bunsen burner this time, but the welcome was HOT HOT HOT and the audience applauded everything  so you can imagine the noise when we set off the whoosh bottle finale. We brought the house down - a standing ovation lasting a good 5 minutes.
At last we trekked home to unpack and wash all the glassware, clean out the boxes and finally put our feet up..... until Tuesday when we are off to Daresbury again!
I love my job
the whoosh bottle
taken on a long exposure
notice the red trail of the lit splint as it shoots out of the bottle

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Out and About in December

This month is busy for us with lots of secondary schools choosing to boost science by booking a show as a Christmas treat plus we have a festive Chemistry at Work day at Daresbury labs with the wonderful team from MerseySTEM and CheshireSTEM
and a Creative Curriculum Conference for student teachers at Manchester Metropolitan University Didsbury campus.

So I have spent the day sorting out our equipment ready for a tour of Merseyside and Cheshire with our show "I wasn't Expecting That!" which highlights some of the fascinating materials out there plus dusting down some of the old chemistry show favourites such as the whoosh bottle, chemical clock reactions and the milk powder flame ball.

There is always way too much to put into a single show and although the temptation is to include everything, we have learnt from experience that we have to carry all this extra around with us so now everything has to earn a place.
Out goes the colourfully named Traffic Lights demonstration using indigo carmine because it is really not reliable for a full day of shows and we often don't have the time or facilities to make up new solutions, whereas the blue and pink bottle both can be depended on to work all day - these are reactions that use dextrose in colour change reactions

Apologies for the music on this video but it shows the demo well

Also in our show will be the now famous hydrogel balls and this time we have made up a rainbow of colours and I have taken photos of the stages
The first photo shows some of the balls in their dried state - they are about 2mm diam actual size

 this image shows a few of the balls after 10 minutes and you can see they have already started to absorb water
after 30 minutes they now have a fuzzy edge and interestingly some  colours seem to be absorbing water faster than others
 after 45 minutes the central core of the balls is becoming quite indistinct the average size is now 6mm diameter

after 1 hour the balls have grown to about 8 mm diameter and have filled the bowl they are in and used up all the water so I added more
 after 3 hours the balls are almost full size and transparent - most will eventually be about 12mm diameter

These smaller balls are easy to buy either through school science suppliers, science toys or from garden centres where they are used by flower arrangers

The large hydrogel spheres we use in our shows are from Mindsets online. They are about 25mm diameter and of course these are the ones that seem to disappear in water. I think perhaps this is my favourite clip of them

So we are on the road next week and hopefully will be able to collect some good images from our adventures - it is always tricky because schools are wary of us taking photos naturally but we will see what we can this space

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

All Change at Lunt's Heath

Science2U had a very busy but fun day at Lunt's Heath Primary school in Widnes focusing on Materials and their Properties with our super show All Change.
This show looks at solids, liquids and gases and what happens when we heat, freeze and do other amazing things to them.
Our adventure started the day before when we were eagerly waiting for our delivery of dry ice. This was due to arrive round about lunch time but by mid afternoon there was no sign......DON'T PANIC comes to mind!!
A quick call to the company revealed that our little pack of ice was still at the depot and not winging its way to us. So after organising a courier to arrive first thing the next day at the school and calling the school to alert the caretaker, it was fingers crossed that our parcel arrived on time for the first show at 9.15

This school is very close to our HQ so it wasn't a dreadfully early start and after a warm welcome we began to set up.

Our first show was for KS1 and this was a Science Magic show with some amazing colour change liquids that go blue or pink when you shake them and then go clear again when left alone; invisible balls that magically appear when you tip the water away; spooky smoke that makes a spoon scream and gungy slime.

Everyone had a really great time and there were lots of smiles all round.

After break it was KS2 looking at  changing materials with lots of dry ice and very exciting - setting fire to things! Helen demonstrated with volunteers what happens when you set fire to chemical salts and we made iron filing sparkles.

The finale was our whoosh bottle which really surprised the front row!

In the afternoon we did two hands on sessions with Year 3&4. Lunt's Heath has 3 classes so we did rather large sessions in the hall getting up close to some of the equipment and demonstrations from the shows.

A quick tidy up and we moved to the Year 6 classroom for a staff CPD session. After exploring the dry ice and having a go with our ghostly bubbles gizmo, 

looking at colour change straws, paper and LCD sheeting and looking really closely at how handwarmers work, we all had a go at using milk, food colouring and washing up liquid for Art on a Plate

Flight Day - To Infinity and Beyond

Recently we had a fantastic day with our good friends Knowsley Park Centre for Learning.

The theme of  their special day was Flight and all year 6 pupils from their feeder schools were invited. The remit was for a 30 minute hands on workshop which we would repeat 8 times - busy day!

We had also been asked to repeat our very successful Whoosh bottle demonstration.
So we created a session looking at why birds can fly and we can't. We heard about the Greek myth of Icarus, We examined feathers ( all cleaned thoroughly ) through a hand lens and saw the structure and how one worked.

We laughed at some of those magnificent men in their flying machines and then looked to the stars and space.

We asked the all important question - how do you go to the loo in space??

We examined what is really inside an astronauts nappy and finally we set off our whoosh bottle with rocket fuel.

The session was really appreciated by both chidlren and staff
A good day all round - thank for inviting us to be part of it

Monday, 30 September 2013

STEM day

So the summer holiday is a vague memory and we are well into the Autumn term.
Our first booking of this school year was a full day of Chemistry at Work funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry and organised by the great team of Cheshire and Mersey STEM.
These days have found a super home at Daresbury labs hosted by Wendy and Alan who make us most welcome.

This time we had 9 schools from around Cheshire, Merseyside, Halton and the Wirral - that's over 100 pupils between year 7 and year 9 but we also had a treat with some year 11s sneaking in.
It was great to see old faces from the Ambassadors at Mexichem but also super to meet new people from TechniquestGlyndwr.
The idea of the day is a carousel of providers who share what they get up to in their various jobs.

Our sessions demonstrate what we do as professional science presenters so we take lots of gadgets and gizmos and this time we took our brilliant new Energy Sticks which we used to invigorate the science teachers who then livened up the pupils!!

We don't have freebies to give away but we do make a give away - our famous mini muffin bath bombs in bubble gum fragrance.
Everyone made one to take home and we only had a couple of disasters......

these were too wet ( probably due to adding too much colour) and the chemical reaction the end of the session these were mushroom shaped and making a bid to escape but after sitting on the windowsill for the day they developed a hard crust so even though they looked a bit weird they should still work.

These were rather bright.....someone didn't stick to the maximum number of drops of colour....I do hope they didn't turn green when they had a bath but the towels might....... ooooops!

Another great next we are off to a special event with our great friends Knowesley Centre for Learning who have a feeder primary day on the theme of flight.....our hands on sessions are entitled To Infinity and Beyond!! watch this space.........

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

National Science and Engineering Week 2014

So it has finally been announced...the theme for NSEW 2014 will be......there won't be one.
Actually there will be a schools focus Explore the Future which is extremely broad and follows on from last year's Invention and Discovery which was such a success for us at Science2U.
One of the brilliant things about running your own company and having that little bit more time is that Helen and I can actually do research and think about what we want to deliver rather than frantically trying to fill a huge programme of events.

We spend time researching modern materials, playing with some of the amazing gadgets and gizmos that are out there and wondering if we can justify buying something that we really like but can't quite see where we can fit it into our programme!

So I think Explore the Future could be a very liberating theme for us.

We have already started gathering new resources for the next academic year. This is our latest

It is called the Energy Stick and we have trialled it at a Chemistry at work day at Daresbry labs where we had a whole class of year 9s all connected in a circuit making their teachers light up!
Huge fun!
So this blog will probably be fairly quiet for the summer with just an occasional post letting you know what we have discovered on our travels. We intend to visit Chester Zoo - they have a major exhibit on BUGS  and we are seriously wondering about creating a show and workshops around habitats and minibeasts definitely fits into that.
Enjoy your summer and if you are a teacher recharge the batteries!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

What a week!

We have been very busy around Merseyside during this last week
Regular readers may remember that during March last year we worked with  BOOST Ellesmere Port at the Boat Museum  as part of their science outreach.
We were asked to work with them again but this time at the Whitby High school as part of their science day 2013.
A large number of groups had been assembled ranging from local companies such as Innospec through to Chester Zoo and Liverpool University.
We were asked to start the day with a bang - literally.
We took our secondary show "I wasn't Expecting That!" which demonstrates a wide range of uses for some of our favourite smart materials along with dry ice, hand warmers and a very visual fire ball from milk powder.
We did the show twice for Year 9 who were a bit reluctant to come out and volunteer but were very keen to have a go after the show.

We had a return visit to Knowsley Park Centre for Learning who were hosting their feeder school year 5s for an International day. We had been asked to be China - the science of fireworks so off we went armed with sparklers, indoor roman candles and flame testing plus our milk powder which amazed everyone including the teachers.
The finale was a huge whoosh bottle followed by everyone having their own little bit of gunpowder in a party popper. Even the secondary school staff came to watch.

Finally we spent the day with St Francis of Assisi Academy in Kensington Liverpool. This was part of a special citizenship week and we were fulfilling the Keeping Healthy strand by exploring why we wash. We have some amazing micrographs of parts of the human body and of course we took along our 5 million skin cells, balloon of wind and tub of snot just to make it a bit more real!

Years 7 and 8 made their own toothpaste and trialled it against a commercial one - ours was just as good if not better - although I am not sure I would want to actually brush my teeth with purple toothpaste.
Year 10 were fascinated by what we excrete every day and just how a bath bomb works.
Everyone made a bath bomb so they could make sure they were really clean.
A busy but very satisfying week.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

An adventure with Year 5

This week we were in Liverpool at St Oswald's Catholic Junior school in Old Swan to work with their three year 5 classes as part of their science week.

Year 5 have been studying Changing Materials and knew all about mixing vinegar with bicarbonate of soda. They had used it to blow up a balloon

So we showed them another way to have fun with this mixture that they could use for their demonstrations during the week

this is Helen's favourite - she calls it the freaky hand

We also showed them some of the super materials from our stash that change depending on temperature.
We started by closely observing what actually goes on in a handwarmer

They loved the colour change straws 

and the heat sensitive paper 

but the LCD sheets got the biggest wow

Of course it wouldn't be a Science2U event without our wonderful hydrogel balls which this time Helen poured into our fish tank and amazingly they disappeared....until of course a very brave Joe  put his hand in and found them all seemingly invisible in the water!

To finish our session we built on their knowledge of the vinegar and bicarbonate experiment by creating bath bombs where you don't use vinegar ( who want to have a bath in vinegar???) but citric acid to add that special fizz and our wonderful bubble gum fragrance which is a hit with all ages

Next we are off to Chester with a whole day of being healthy - It's All About You