Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Science workshop

Most of the Easter holidays were spent pottering, playing and reading, but for one afternoon we attended a Family Science Workshop on materials and matter. Charlie had enjoyed learning about the properties of materials at school and it was the first subject he'd wanted us to study together when he left, so I assumed this would be right up his street.

The workshop was set up by The Making Place, a charity which aims to 'excite and inspire the public about science and technology' by running hands-on science experiments. It was held at Zu Studios, an art centre filled with artworks and unexpected treasures. 


The workshop leader started with a brief discussion about the changing states of materials and asked us what would happen if we mixed hot wax with ice. Slabs of ice were handed round and the children were soon enthusiastically banging them to pieces to make them small enough to fit into plastic beakers. Scraps of wick were balanced in the centre of the beaker, then the children queued up to have hot wax poured over the ice . 

We were able to observe the hot wax slowly solidifying (changing state) as it cooled. By the end of the workshop, we were left with candles to take home. 

In another experiment, we lit candles in water and added Alka Seltzer tablets. As the tablets dissolved, they released carbon dioxide, thus starving the candles of oxygen and putting out the flame.

Charlie and I have already mixed bicarbonate of soda with vinegar to create volcanoes, but in this workshop we added the bicarbonate of soda to vinegar in a balloon and then watched the balloon inflate. 

We ended the workshop by creating honeycomb toffee - like the inside of a Crunchie bar - using sugar, syrup and bicarbonate of soda.
Finally, the workshop leader asked for two young volunteers and together they demonstrated the differences between states of matter by dancing: for solid matter, they stuck together and did very ponderous, slow dancing; for liquid, they held hands and danced freely; and for gas, they separated and danced individually. I thought it was a clever way of explaining the concept and I suspect Charlie will not forget it.

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