Thursday, 19 October 2017


We cannot believe how quickly the time has gone - our final session at Brynteg!

For the final week we sorted liquids by pH although we didn't actually use that phrase.
We chatted about acids and alkalis around the home - most of the children knew the word acid and were aware of things like lemon juice and vinegar. We had a closer look at citric acid in sherbet and other sweets.......tarty!
Image result for haribo sweets

I had made a batch of red cabbage indicator ( a good time of year for red cabbage!) and I soaked some art paper in it to make indicator strips.
Image result for red cabbage indicator

We demonstrated what the red cabbage indicator liquid did in acids, neutral and alkali then everyone had a go testing our 6 liquids.

We then had a look at a rainbow of colours given by universal indicator liquid before testing our liquids using paper strips.

Finally we chose our best alkali and used turmeric paper strips to give a deep red.

So our time at Brynteg has finished. We've had a brilliant time and the feedback from staff and pupils has been incredibly positive.

Even more exciting is that Reaching Wider Partnerships has more funding so we will be able to deliver this project to more schools in NEWales.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

FUN at BRYNTEG CP week 3 - Electricity

This week we were sorting materials based on electrical conductivity.

We had taken some of our lights from our show Inside the Rainbow and as the room was darkened it looked a treat when the children arrived.

We looked in detail at the different lights especially the plasma ball and some of the class were able to light up fluorescent light bulbs using the energy from the ball.
We also explored some of our lights that work by "muscle power" our wind up torch and our Faraday torch. 
We then looked at how a complete circuit is needed to make the lights work by making our little ducks light up, our comsic ball and our energy sticks.

Then after everyone having a good experiment with the energy stocks we gave each table a tray of different materials so they could make circuits and test the materials to see if the conducted electricity or not.

The energy sticks light up and make quite a noise so this part of the session was quite lively!
Finally we made a huge circle all holding hands and we saw that we could light up the energy stick using the  whole class.

Monday, 2 October 2017

FUN at BRYNTEG CP week 2 Colour Chaos

Our second week at Ysgol Brynteg near Wrexham

This week we worked with year 3 & 5 in the classroom exploring mixing and separating materials through colour.

First we thought about the impact that colour has on our lives. How food looks so unappetising when grey! How animals use colour for camouflage, enticement and warning.

After a short skill lesson in how to handle a pipette and create regular drops we used simple colour mixing to explore how from the three primary colours so many different colours can be made. Simple yes, but it is easy to forget that younger ones often don't actually know what happens if you mix colours. How lovely to hear an excited WOW! when blue and yellow made a stunning green.

Then we used ordinary felt pens to explore  splitting up colours using paper chromatography

We then used Sharpie permanent markers and alcohol in dropper bottles to split and spread the colour. Some of the colours didn't split but all of them spread in a very pleasant pattern

Finally we made a home made lava lamp using colour and light for effect

Next week we will be sorting materials depending on conductivity

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

FUN at BRYNTEG CP week 1

We have started another project with Reaching Wider Partnerships NW Wales and Communities First
This time we are in a small primary school just outside Wrexham - Brynteg CP.

After an initial visit last term to chat to the head and discuss arrangements we decided on a new format. This time our first visit was a full day with two shows on the morning and two workshops in the afternoon. We are trying to make the very best use of the finding available and this gives us a better cost on transport.

We arrived bright and early to begin to set up. The school's small breakfast club  were tucking into great looking breakfasts before watching a little episode of a film.

Once we were ready the first audience came in - KS1 - all excited and looking forward to some science. The school was in non-uniform and jeans to raise money on Jeans for Genes day which created quite a relaxed atmosphere.

The first experiment was to wake up a sleeping reaction....there were a few suggestions how we might do this....we discovered that shouting didn't work but giving it a good shake did. Amazement! A clear liquid turned either bright pink or blue with just a good shake and even more amazing as we watched it slowly turned back to being clear again!

That was easy and encouraged everyone to volunteer for the rest of the show. Lots of colour changes, lots of surprises and a dramatic dry ice finale!

After a quick reset during break time we were ready for the next show with KS2. These guys were just as amazed at the colour change science but wanted to know how it was all happening. They were also brilliant on their science vocabulary remembering the correct terms for what they were seeing happen before their very eyes.

As ever Helen's transforming mug got a round of applause but so did the Incredible Experiment - a demonstration of indicators and neutralisation which seemed almost magical.
The teachers joined in becoming human light switches by lighting up and putting out fluorescent light bulbs and we even had a go at blowing up one of the pupils.

Our dry ice finale with lots of pops and bangs went down a storm and then Mr Jones shared the good news - years 3 & 5 would be seeing us again because we were going into their classrooms in the afternoon to do some workshops.

A quick lunch and set up in the year 5 classroom for an afternoon of Pretty Amazing Polymers leading on from some of the demonstrations they had seen in our shows and getting up close to the kit!

scientists are making cups using maize
We investigated how slime is made and left some for the class to experiment with during the week.
Everyone had a good play with some thermo molding plastic and then they all got very up close to our hydrogel balls. Each table had a cup full and on the understanding that they cleared up their own mess they were able to test to destruction!
Finally after thinking about going to the toilet in space and what astronauts wear on the journey to and from the space station we experimented with the absorbency of disposable nappies.

Finally we left everyone with some homework - some hydrogel balls to hydrate during the week in as many different and unusual liquids as they could of.

Then it was time to do it all again with the second class.

The afternoon shot past so quickly and everyone really enjoyed being able to say " see you next week"

Monday, 18 September 2017

Solar Eclipse

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Sadly not here in the UK but my friends in the US had a great time when they were able to observe a total solar eclipse in August.

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I used to teach in Tennessee and one of my friends from over there sent me  a couple of sheets of their commemorative stamps.
 I am not sure if they are supposed to go on the front of a letter or to be kept. Someone - clever person - has had the great idea to use thermochromic technology to create a stamp that looks black - just like a total eclipse sun but when warmed up changes to an image of the moon.
They are brilliant!

I intend to use one sheet when we go into schools and show how science is working with modern techniques and materials. We have a few interesting things that use thermochromic technology and also a few that use hydrochromic technology - my favourite is our new rainbow umbrella!

our thermochromic mug in action

I love it when science and the everyday overlap. It is great to be able to explain how something works.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Big Bang North West

Tuesday 4th July 2107
A big day for science in the North West!

Liverpool waterfront The Exhibition Centre was taken over by 1000s of young people all wanting to see the exciting shows and stands at the Big Bang Fair North West.
The team had been working hard for many months organising the venue, sorting out the exhibiting companies and the special guests for the show stage.

This year was a new venture for us. We have been on the show stage for the last 3 years but with more and more Primary schools coming to the event the BBNW team asked us if we could organise a stand with actititves especially geared towards the younger ones....certainly!

Then we needed to think because our usual amazing science is often a one off and then make up the chemicals again type of thing - the sort of colour change science we do in our shows. Of course that wouldn't work for a science event where small groups walk up to your stand all through the day.

So we decided to take some of our kit from our Super Senses workshops - guess the smell and the feely tubs and grot bags. Guessing a smell with no clues is quite hard so anyone that got it right won a scratch and sniff sticker....they obviously had a good nose.

Brave souls who put their hand into one of our grot bags found slime, instant snow, insects ( plastic ones!) and a squooshy worm.

Of course it wouldn't be one of our events without the amazing invisible hydrogel balls but how to stop them all getting squished in the first five minutes???
We used a few giant pink ones in amongst some smaller clear ones in coloured water and played hunt the gel ball! We had extras in reserve and replenished them every so often. Soon we had a bucket of dead hydrogel balls!!

Throw in a few colour change tricks with heat sensitive paper and straws and you have a fun, hands on stand.

We even had a competition to win a half price day of shows.Well done to Aintree Davenhill Primary who won.

It was a long day - we were there very early to set up but we had help from my other half - also a STEM Ambassador - so we were at least able to take a quick bathroom break occasionally but we were so busy we didn't get to see any of the shows.

The images from the day are really great. You can see 100s on the AllAboutSTEM website and Facebook page but here are a few of us having fun.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017


Although the summer holidays have not arrived yet the weather is amazing so I thought it would be a good idea just to remind everyone about keeping safe in the sun.

Here's an extract from a previous summer snippet  in 2015 all about sunscreen.

Here is a simple and really fun way to test out your suncream.

These little beads are UV reactive and now you can buy them all over the place.

We have been using them for a few years to demonstrate modern reactive materials along with hydrochromic and thermochromic products.

simple bracelets of UV reactive beads
By exposing the beads to UV you can change their colour from a plain creamy white to a range of brights.

Here we have made simple stretchy bracelets and put part in a clear plastic bag which we then smeared with suncream. The other part we left out in the sunlight.
We used two different SPF strengths - it really does make a difference what strength you use!
See for yourself.........

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Our Welsh Project week 5

Our final week!! Oh no! It has actually gone really quickly!

This week we decided to explore electricity.

We took quite a few different lights, gadgets and gizmos from our show Inside the Rainbow so the classroom was darkened as the children came in with all the lights on....that got a reaction!

We then explored different light sources that used eletrciity.

Some used mains, others battery and some needed winding up or shaking to work because they had no batteries at all.

We also had some that didn't seem to have any way to turn them needed a himan to become part of the circyut before the light would work.

Just for fun we had also taken out light sabres and disco balls - well it was the last week.

Then for some serious science.....

We explained how the energy sticks worked and gave every group a stick to see what they made of it.

Then we showed the class how you can use the energy stick to test different materials to see if they wold conduct electricity or not.
Every group had a tray full of fascinating materials and began to investigate.

Finally we made a huge circle to see if the stick worked with the whole class.....and it did!

So we say goodbye for now to all our friends at Ysgol Bryn Gwalia.
thanks to Ms Griffiths for this photo montage

This first project has been very successful - there are a few tweaks we will make for the next one but I do hope more schools in NE Wales will sign up for such a great time!