Thursday, 12 March 2015

British Science Week

bsw2015Here it is!
British Science Week is probably the busiest time of the year for science presenters.
This is when some lucky schools decide to have a whole week off timetable to devote to science....some create assemblies and each class shares some science every day........some schools buy in special speakers - like us!

The week is organised by the British Science Association (BA) and this year with a new name and dedicated website it looks to be bigger than ever.

The BA produces lost of materials  publicity goodies and activity booklets to helps schools and communities put on events.
Some years there is a theme, other years is it more general.

This year we have created a new show to go with one of the new activity packs which isi all about colour.
So our new show is called KALEIDOSCOPE and explores the science of colour, how we see, optical illusions, colour blindness, colour chemisty and colour in physics.
We use colour chemistry to WOW the audience including finding out how our eyes work and why some animals can see lots of colours and others - like dogs - can only see a few.

As part of the "imagine a world in greyscale" theme I have been busy making food.....
I used a polymer clay in black and white which I mixed to get a good grey using what looks like a pasta machine....which it is but only used for clay work...thank goodness!

Then I used an extruder to make strands of "spaghetti" and made some textured balls.
Once on the plate I baked it in the over for about 20 mins to set the clay.
What do you think?? Fancy it for tea? I love making props for our shows

We will be sharing some of our favourite colour chemistry demonstrations including the amazing EXPERIMENT where four volunteers and Helen turn clear liquids bright pink and then clear again - it seems to be magic but it is certainly science!
look carefully and you can see the pink liquid turning clear as it enters Helen's vessel

We will be using some of our gadgets and gizmos from the light show such as the plasma ball and lighting up fluorescent tubes

and of course we will be using our wonderful rainbow glasses so that everyone can catch a glimpse of the visible spectrum.

We are taking part in a day of science fun at Ness Gardens Cheshire on Saturday 14th March so we will be trying out a mini version of the new show back to back throughout the day. It's free so why not come along and see us!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

A Warm Welcome in Wallasey

We have been to a brand new school both for us as visitors and for the school itself.
Well perhaps brand new isn't quite correct.
Somerville Primary school in Wallasey is coming to the end of a major refurbishment which has given them super new teaching spaces but probably the most impressive is their amazing hall.
The space can be split into two and has dining facilities so this is where the pupils have their lunch but also there is the facility to make it a community resource. The hall has totally separate entrance and lobby so that the local community can use it without having to open the whole school.
We were able to park in the designated area in front of the hall and easily unload to get all our equipment in - quite impressive and very useful!
Once inside there were designated toilets - again brilliant because we didn't have to go wandering off around the school to find water and once inside the actual hall we were blown away by a wonderful rainbow effect that the large windows have - there are beautifully coloured panes of glass among the plain.  The effect is one of lightness and airiness with pale wood used throughout.
Parts of the school are still being worked on so some children will be in mobile classrooms for a while yet but once finished it will be incredible.
A new school without closing the old one, being able to carry on while all the work is being done and keeping their footprint....a very important point.

Anyway after being very impressed with our warm welcome - from the Head teacher no less - we were helped by a very friendly caretaker who had organised the fire alarms so that we could set fire to things without worry.

We quickly set up and  ready for a 9 o'clock start with years 1 &2 thinking about Materials and what things are made from and how important it is to get the correct materials for the job. Timmy gave us a hand sorting out whether things were natural or man made

Then it was the turn of year 3&4 and we were thinking about solids liquids and gases using flashes and bangs and flame and ice to get over our ideas.
So that everyone could have lunch we pushed our tables against the wall and covered them over and went off in search of the very youngest scientists!
Somerville is a large school with a 3 form entry so we met 3 different reception classes for some hands on sessions having a good play with some of our most exciting gadgets and gizmos. We changed the colour of paper and plastic straws just by warming them with our hands! We made gloopy liquids much runnier by warming them up, we lit up little ducks by giving them a little hug ( you really had to be there to see how lovely that was) and then we all had a go with the rainbow glasses even the teachers and helpers, which was lots of fun.
After a quick lunch and a much needed sit down it was time for the oldest pupils years 5 & 6 to experience All Change - exploring changing materials by freezing with lots of dry ice, by warming and burning and again Helen got a wow with her flaming custard powder.

Finally we mixed all sorts of weird and wonderful materials and got some very surprising results.

We packed away most of our equipment and then took  big box of goodies to the staff room for a drop in session where teachers could have a go themselves with some of the show demonstrations.
We still had some dry ice left so we pretended we were Harry Potter - huge fun. We set off a few handwarmers and used the heat sensitive paper and straws to see what happened. We had a good play with our incredible disappearing hydrogel balls - and we left a box behind for them all to have a play with and then we all had a go at Art on a Plate - milk, colours and washing up liquid.

Thank you to Mrs Connelly for organising the day - and for being so efficient - this was a school visit that ran flawlessly - mainly due to the school being so organised and helpful. I do hope we can visit there again!!