Squishy circuits


20160127_144008I recently worked with two Y4 classes to introduce their new topic Electricity. We made some basic circuits and then used squishy circuits to investigate different ways of making circuits, different components and different ways to connect them up. They also had the opportunity to get creative with their squishy creations! I returned to the school a few weeks later and they’d made a fantastic display on what they’d learned so far


For more information about squishy circuits and how to make your own see the University of St Thomas website.20150318_112706


Painting with plants

Year 1 painting

Autumn is well and truly underway here in Durham and the leaves are turning beautiful shades of red, yellow and brown. Our painting with plants workshop covers a range of topics including: chemical reactions, identifying leaves and also getting creative with paints made from different plants.

Year 3 painting

More able or older children can go into more detail with labelling their drawings, and painting extra details on their leaves. Most of all it’s great fun and quite messy so the children love it!

The colours also match quite well with the changes in leaves during the Autumn so these leaves could form the basis of a Autumnal classroom display.

A scorching summer fair

Last weekend I ran a science stall at my daughter’s school summer fair. I would love for kids to think it normal to take part in fun science activities as well as win sweets and eat cakes!

The beads inside (no UV light)

This year, I had UV-sensitive beads for visitors to make into wrist-bands or bag charms. The beads change colour under UV light. It was a scorcher of a day so ideal for demonstrating the beads.

Light is made up of colours we can see (the colours of the rainbow) and some which we can’t (e.g. ultra-violet or UV light). These beads change colour in UV light. Inside they are clear as seen in the picture to the right.

Take them outside (or shine a UV light on them) and they change colour. Even on a cloudy day they change faintly. On a really sunny day the colours are bright as can be seen in the second picture below.

…and outside in bright sunlight

Too much UV light from the sun can give us sunburn and damage our skin. We used factor 30 sun cream to block the UV rays and prevent the beads from changing colour.

Making bath bombs

Kids love making bath bombs! It’s an activity I have done in several settings and it’s always popular with both boys and girls. Most recently, I ran this as a school fair where it was so popular it was hard to keep up with demand! It is better in a more controlled setting such as a classroom or youth group.

The main things in a bath bomb that make it fizz are bicarbonate of soda (an alkali) and citric acid (an acid – clue’s in the name really). When these chemicals mix in water they react and form a gas (carbon dioxide), this gas is what causes the fizzy bubbles you see in the bath when you drop them in. The other chemicals in the bath bomb are there to make it smell nice or add effects to the water (e.g colour or glitter). If you ever make these yourself my top tip is only put a teeny tiny bit of glitter or petals or whatever in your bomb, believe me they get all over your bath as well as all over you!

Primary School Science fairs

I have recently supported two primary schools in County Durham to put on a science fair in their school. I worked with the year 6 pupils over four weeks to help them take charge and put on a great show for their peers. In the first couple of sessions, I took lots of short, fun activities for the pupils to try. They critiqued them, changed some, chose some, added new ideas and rejected some until they had their own repertoire of activities for their fair.

In each school, we ran a half day science fair for key stage (KS)1 and a half day for KS2. A small group of 2-3 year 6 pupils were in charge of each activity and demonstrated it to their peers in the rest of the school. We opened each fair with fizzy drink and mentos fountain which got everybody excited and then pupils went round the different activity stations and were helped to try the activities themselves by the year 6s. In one of the schools the year 6s trained the year 5s to demonstrate the activities at the KS1 fair. We also had other teachers, parents and governors helping out during the day.

Everyone who took part had a great time. The kids demonstrating the activities really got to understand the science behind their activities so they could explain it to their friends. Parents were also invited after school to see what had been going on so the project was also a great way of getting the wider school community involved.

If you are interested in running a similar project at your school, please go to the Primary school workshops page for more information or contact Dr Research.