Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas Jingle Bells at Daresbury

Tuesday 9th December and we were off to Daresbury labs for our final Chemistry at Work Day of this year with MerseySTEM.
It being pretty close to the holidays we decided to make this one a bit special so when it came to making the usual bath bombs as part of our hands on take home make for the session we created Christmas puddings.

Getting the puddings right took quite a bit of experimenting - we usually use liquid food colouring for the bombs but it is very hard to get a proper brown so after some research we eventually coloured the brown base using powdered pigment especially created for cosmetics which we made into solution - it took quite a bit of trial and error to get a good pudding colour that wouldn't stain the bath, the towels and the person!!
We had splotchy brown hands for a few days.

We topped it off with plain white mix and a holly sprig.

Then of course the all important fragrance.......finally after quite a bit of sniff testing we decided the bath bombs would be fragranced with mince pie mix which made the whole room smell spicy and seasonal. At first I thought it was a very seasonal and cheerful smell but after making a few I began to long for the usual bubblegum fragrance. I am not sure it really was mince pies more like mulled wine without the drink! Quite how that will work in a bath I am not sure plus when we demonstrated using our little bath the water was a decided brown - not the best look in a bath.
Fortunately in a real bath the brown will dilute to a peachy tinge!

There were some teachers from schools we had met before and it was good to see some old friends and to make new ones especially as they joined our mailing list for the newsletter.

So we have completed another year of Chemistry at Work days and look forward to being able to join in the fun in 2105.

As I am writing this post I can see we have broken through 6000 hits - thank you to everyone who reads our blog, thank you for your support.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Tripping the Light Fantastic with Upton Heath Chester

 We had a wonderful time on Thursday with Upton Heath primary school in Chester exploring light and colour through our show Inside the Rainbow.
This show is probably our favourite because it is so lovely to watch expressions of the children as they enter a darkened room full of so many different sorts of lights - disco balls splashing coloured light across the ceiling, fibre optic lamps shimmering, a lava lamp is slowly glooping away, the plasma ball is doing it's thing looking so exciting......
Everyone wants to peep into the darkened hall to see what is happening!!

The first show was with year 1 and 2 who came in so quietly trying very hard to contain their excitement when they saw how amazing the room looked.
This show is such a lovely experience - after feeling so warm and glowing in all this light we turn off everything and realise how different it feels to be in the dark and how little we can actually see. Helen and I are dressed for the occasion and we light up our  EL outfits and uncover our glow bracelets and suddenly we are having a wonderful time playing with all sort of gadgets and gizmos that use light.

We all made huge shadows and kept some on a special shadow sheet.
We explored the rainbow using our amazing glasses and then found out that some insects can see beyond the rainbow in Ultraviolet so we used our special lights to show secret messages.
Helen helped some excited volunteers to set fire to special chemicals and show how how fireworks are coloured and then Sue made a spectacular sparkler with some extra fine iron filings

We bounced light around the room using mirrors, used our muscles to make torches light up and the teachers lit up special tubes using our plasma ball.

All to soon it was time to leave for break.
Waiting at the door of the hall were  a group of reception children who were almost squeaking they were so excited because this was an unexpected extra - a short session with us playing with the toys, dressing up in the EL lights and wearing the rainbow glasses. We got lots of hugs as they left.......

After break we were much more serious with year 2 and 3.....well a little bit! Similar show but with a bit more added science explanation

In the afternoon we worked with year 3 who are studying light and colour right now.
We looked at how with just three colours we can make a whole rainbow - the wonderful coloured patterns they created will make great displays.

We made our own secret messages using two different special pens - one that we revealed using another pen and then we wrote messages that needed the UV light the reveal them.

Finally in small groups we made special lava lamps in deep red  that we lit up to make a super display and one group helped us to make a little video clip

Friday, 5 December 2014

Two shows in Cheshire - Weaverham High School and UCAN

on stage at UCAN
This week we were out and about in Cheshire sharing exciting science shows organised by CheshireSTEM

Our secondary science show is called   "I Wasn't Expecting That!"  because that is what we love about science  - how you are often surprised by results and amazed by materials.
In the morning we were warmly welcomed at Weaverham High school by Janet Kolita the Careers Co-ordinator and shown into the school hall to set up for a show with the whole of their year 7 about 200 pupils. Many thanks to their science technicians and caretaker for helping us set up.

Thankfully this hall has a super high ceiling so we were able to include most of our fire demonstrations and of course our finale whoosh bottle. We had a great time - year 7 were an enthusiastic audience, keen to join in and very interested in how the demos worked.
There were some quite jealous older pupils when they saw what we had all been up to as we were clearing away during break time.

The afternoon school was not very far away so we were able to drop in to Weaver Hall museum for a coffee and freshen up and we managed to meet up for a quick catch up with Tom Hughes who runs the education team.

Then we were off to University of Chester Academy Northwich (UCAN) for a second show again with year 7s.

About 90 pupils were in the hall for another exciting set of demonstrations with lots of volunteers getting involved especially with the handwarmers and colour change straws. We were up on the stage in the main hall which was a great setting for the show. We were even able to make the hall really dark so that the plasma ball, rainbow flames, fire balls and whoosh bottle were really effective.
Everyone had a great time including the staff who were happy to join in and let us try to blow them up!

After a busy day it was back to base to pack up for the next day........