ScienceFun Fair

ScienceFun Fair was displayed in the Media Lounge relating to the exhibition Semiconductor 'Worlds in the Making' in the galleries at FACT. I worked with year 6 at Pleasant Street Primary School to explore some of the themes in the show. We produced experiments that could be used by visitors to the exhibition. The young people explored the science theme's creatively with an emphasis on fun and experimentation.

http://www.fact.co.uk/about/exhibitions/2011/semiconductor-worlds-in-the-making/media-lounge-sciencefun-fair

The experiments explored volcanoes, Liquefaction (when earth/sand moves due to seismic activity and behaves like a liquid), cymatics (the study of visible sound and vibrations) and seismography.

Below are some video clips of the experiments being tested and developed by the pupils at Pleasant Street Primary (double click in the video's to replay them)

Volcanoes:

We built cardboard structures, covered them with paper mache and painted them. The young people then worked in groups experimenting with adding different amounts of the 'lava' ingredients to find out what proportions led to the best eruption. We used washing up liquid, bicarbonate of soda, food coloring and distilled vinegar (you can also add a little water to the vinegar). As part of our research we also tested out the mentos and coke experiment in the playground, and although it was great fun we decided it was a bit too explosive to be used in the Media Lounge.

The young people made scenes inside small fish tanks, each group came up with a story of what was happening. The scenes were built on top of sand, so when moved from side to side they simulated the phenomenon of Liquefaction. The sand behaves like a liquid and the props and figures sink or fall over.

Working in groups the pupils were challenged to build two seismographs one using a cardboard box and another using Lego. Each group was given the same materials including, paper cups, string, marbles, straws, Blu-tack and sellotape. they worked in their teams to problem solve and build working model seismographs.

I demonstrated a cymatics experiment to the group, using cornflour and water mixed together (or 'Oobleck' a Non-Newtonian fluid which behaves both as a liquid and a solid). The mixture was placed on a speaker and different frequencies were played though the speaker causing the mixture to behave in strange ways. The experiment shows the connections between sound waves and vibrations. As this experiment had to be demonstrated (due to the equipment) and only responds well at certain frequencies the young people were not able to get an involved. They prefered the experiments which were more 'hands on'. We adapted this experiment to making sand move on a speaker in respond to sound. Dave Berger at FACT created the the version in the Media Lounge which used contact mics which could be hit to make the sand move.

Resources:

Cymatics -
There are some amazing films of Cymatics experiments made in the 1960's by Swiss scientist, Dr. Hans Jenny on youtube;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05Io6lop3mk