Sunday, 13 July 2014

Colour Change Technology

As regular readers will know Science2U likes to play with new technology and share gadgets and gizmos that are out there and available for everyone to get hold of.
In our Chemistry@work days at Daresbury lab we often share our colour change straws - thermochromic plastic

 our heat sensitive paper - thermochromic ink

and our colour change shower curtain  - hydrochromic technology.

Our latest purchase is actually a toddler playmat but it uses hydrochromic colour change technology to allow young children to draw using only water.
Remember those magic painting books where you only used water and colour appeared - well think like that but re-useable!
Our mat is in rainbow colours so using a water filled pen you can draw or using a brush you can paint  and even use stamps on a water mat. Water reveals an almost magical rainbow of colour which eventually fades away as the mat dries. You can see the appeal to parents - no mess and the only consumable is water!

Our idea is to ask the school groups to sign in with a graffitti style tag which we will display throughout the session but by the time the next group arrives it will have dried out and faded ready to be used again.

Along with our UV colour change loom band bracelets

we think we have a winning summer fun session for our last Chem@work day of this acadmic year

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Big Bang Fair North West Aintree 2014


What an amazing day it has been at The Big Bang.
A very early start to arrive at Aintree for about 8.00 to unload and register before setting up our show on the main stage in the Irish Bar in the Princess Royal Stand.
a grey and early start

The stage was in a catwalk style leading into about 100 seats surrounded by other exhibitors and we wondered how we were going to make ourselves heard until we met the lovely guys from the stage crew. We would be wearing head mics - just like you see on TV - and would be able to talk quietly and still be heard.

just about to start - an official picture

We set up our show which we had written for this event - a taster of all the different shows we do but with a definite secondary feel - all linked to the theme I WASN'T EXPECTING THAT!
Once we were set up nerves began to kick in- this was quite a big deal for us...but we sat on the side of the stage and had  quick cup of coffee and ran through the show together and then......everyone started to arrive.
After a quick sound check it was time...we were on.
An opening interactive with two volunteers - the pink and blue colour changing bottles
apparently there is science happening in this bottle

Then a second colour change with our acid and alkali poem The Experiment
A third colour change - the chameleon gave a multi coloured rainbow effect.
Next it was a quick look at some of our smart materials especially the hydrogel balls - there was an overhead camera linked to  a huge screen which gave an incredible view.
over 300"invisible" hydrogel balls are in the tank

We got a whole row of volunteers out to change our thermochromic straws and then we made human circuits with the energy sticks.

Next we got out the dry ice - Helen got a bit carried away and we had foaming cylinders bursting their coloured water all over the tables but it just added to the amazing sight of spooky fog flowing all over the stage - it worked really well.
We made the ice scream with a metal spoon, made huge smoky bubbles and collected some carbon dioxide into a balloon and tried to blow up a teacher,
Our finale was  slime - two lucky volunteers got to make up some snot green gloop and take it home!!

Our show lasted about 25 minutes and then it was a very quick reset before we did it all again......and then again.
Three shows back to back before quickly taking down and handing the stage over to Terry the Viking scientist with his amazing fire show.

We were able to have a quick look around the exhibitions and a wander around the racecourse itself.

One of the fascinating things was just how many people were tweeting  throughout the day.


Finally the day ended with presentations of awards to STEMclubs  for some incredible projects - there are some very clever young people out there.
Well done to all the team at MerseySTEM who organised this event.
I think a lie down is now in order!

Friday, 4 July 2014

The Science of Fireworks

Today we paid a return visit to Knowsley Park Centre for Learning for their annual International Day.

We were China - the science of fireworks.

This time we were in the small lecture theatre with some year 5 pupils from local feeder primary schools.

We explored rockets, sparklers and the ingredients that make gunpowder.
We found out how early fireworks were made,
Here Helen shows how colours are created in fireworks with some volunteers coming out to help

We saw how iron filings make sparkles and how bright magnesium is

We  created a fireball from and unexpected fuel source - milk powder

The whoosh bottle using alcohol as a fuel was a huge surprise and a great success

and then we finished the session by all setting off party poppers - our own little explosion!
Thank you for a brilliant day and for making us so welcome

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Exciting times at Chester High School

Yesterday we visited Chester Catholic High school for a day with some of their feeder primary school pupils.
The Catholic High School, Chester - Christo Fidelis
The day started with a delivery of dry ice to the school ready for our shows - we eventually tracked it the boiler room.
We had created a special show for the school, based on our Secondary Tour show "I Wasn't Expecting That!" with a few extras especially for the younger audience.
We started with exploring a simple handwarner - how do you make it work, what is inside it, why does it warm up?

Then we invited two volunteers to shake a bottle of seemingly clear liquid which amazingly changed to either a blue or a bright pink, the colour then gently faded away but was returned by simply shaking again.
Four more volunteers came out to join Sue and Helen in a bit of dramatic poetry - The Experiment.
Four scientists mixing clear liquids which turned bright pink but when they all combined their liquids in Helen's container it all went clear...magic?? No Science!

After some more colour changing demonstrations we got all excited by setting fire to a few things...a rainbow of flame colours, some incredible sparklers and magnesium. Then we showed how much energy there is in milk powder by creating a fire ball...smells really great too

Next it was time to break out the dry ice and share some of our demos -  Helen's cauldron and screaming spoon, ghostly white bubbles and then we tried to blow up a teacher........

We created human light bulbs with our plasma ball

 We investigated smart materials that react to temperature by either changing colour, shape or seeming to disappear.
Then some ideas for things to do at home including the freaky hand

and finally we rounded off an exciting show with our whoosh bottle.

Great fun - thanks for having us and thanks to Debbie Hickling for organising it all.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Being Healthy

We are looking forward to a busy week of school visits.
On Monday we will be in Great Sutton Ellesmere Port with Meadow Primary school for the start of their Healthy Schools Week.
We will be doing our All About You show for each Key stage.
So Timmy will be coming with us to help KS1 create a healthy lunch box

we will be exploring our feely tubs and trying to work out what is inside the sound eggs

Then with KS2 we will challenge a few brave volunteers to put their hands into the GROT BAGS and discover the grunge inside, find out why we need to wash see the amazing images up close and personal of our skin. We will discover just how much snot we produce when we have a cold and are those really skin cells shed?????

In the afternoon we will be working with year 4 making and testing home made toothpaste.
So on a sunny afternoon I was preparing two class sets of ceramic tiles ready for cleaning

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Big Bang @ school in Fazakerley

We had a super day with the team from MerseySTEM, a great gang from Amey and the Big Bang Northwest folk sharing science with year 9 at Fazakerley High School.

Quite an early start for a day themed around our environment sponsored by Amey.
We had been asked to present on Plastics - Superhero OR Supervillain!
So we decide to resurrect an old favourite using Polycaprolactone AKA POLYMORPH which is a thermo moulding biodegradable plastic.
These great little granules transform at about 62C into transparent, chewing gum looking, stretchy, wonderfully tactile strands that can be moulded into a huge range of things for hobbies, electronics, engineering and crafts.

We chose to make keyrings with a bit of added bling in the form of glitter.

We used silicon ice cube moulds and added a small key chain. There were quite a few creative folk who designed their own rather than use a mould - very inventive!

We started with a brief intro and discussion about why plastic has such a bad reputation and how we can help to reduce the energy and waste issue by recycling. So the challenge is to find a material  like plastic but with none of the bad points - well we couldn't quite get rid of all the bad points but certainly the waste issue - a biodegradable plastic really helps.

Throughout the day we had 6 workshops so everyone in year 9 got to experience our presentation.

Once they got their hands on the polymorph and had a good play to discover just how it behaved they then used pre glittered moulds to make their bespoke keyring.

The school made us extremely welcome with a super lunch prepared by the in house catering staff.

We left the science team with a sample and all the little left over bits from the day so they should have good fun and a great introduction to polymers.

thanks for having us FHS