Spreading the love of science with the help of my mobile science cart…one experiment at a time!

It’s great to be back with you all after a few months break. I have been lucky enough to have taken a wonderful and exciting trip to Madagascar. It is a fascinating island located about 250 miles (400 kilometres) off of the coast of southern Africa in the Indian Ocean. Along with my ExplorerLAB™ I spent a couple of wonderful months in the sunshine and enjoyed the delights of the island, including meeting few of the local inhabitants, who you can see in the photo!

A selfie of me with the Lemars in Madagascar

A selfie of me with the Lemars in Madagascar

Well, enough of my travel exploits! What I would really like to share with you is an experiment that delighted some of the children that I met whilst travelling.

You will need adult supervision for this experiment.

Fun Foamy Fountain

A clean 16 ounce plastic fizzy drinks bottle

1/2 cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide liquid (20-volume is a 6% solution, ask an adult to get this from a chemist store or hair salon suppliers)

1 Tablespoon (one packet) of dry yeast

3 Tablespoons of warm water

Washing up liquid

Food colouring

Small cup

Safety goggles

NOTE: As you can see from the picture, foam will overflow from the bottle, so be sure to do this experiment on a washable surface, or place the bottle on a tray.

1. Hydrogen peroxide can irritate skin and eyes, so put on those safety goggles and ask an adult to carefully pour the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle.

2. Add 8 drops of your favourite food colouring into the bottle.

3. Add about 1 tablespoon of washing up liquid into the bottle and swish the bottle around a bit to mix it.

4. In a separate small cup, combine the warm water and the yeast together and mix for about 30 seconds.

5. Now the fun begins! Pour the yeast water mixture into the bottle (a funnel helps here) and watch the foaminess begin!

The foam made is special because each tiny foam bubble is filled with oxygen. The yeast acted as a catalyst (a helper) to remove the oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide. Since it did this very fast, it created lots and lots of bubbles. Did you notice the bottle got warm? Your experiment created a reaction called an Exothermic Reaction – that means it not only created foam, it created heat! The foam produced is just water, soap, and oxygen so you can clean it up with a sponge and pour any extra liquid left in the bottle down the drain. DO NOT INGEST THE FOAM AT ANY TIME.download (6)

If you wish to make this a true experiment, you can try to answer these questions:

1. Does the amount of yeast change the amount of foam produced?

2. Does the experiment work as well if you add the dry yeast without mixing it with water?

3. Does the size of the bottle affect the amount of foam produced?

This is a great experiment to do at school or at home with an adult. Let me know how it works for you!

If you are interested in learning more about the LapSafe® ExplorerLAB™ mobile laboratory, then please visit http://www.lapsafe.com/products/mobile-charging/explorerlab or call 0845 230 1010 for more information.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of phandroid.com

Photo Courtesy of phandroid.com

According to an article on TechRadar website, my next flight on Virgin Atlantic could be quite interesting! As this week they have embarked on a pilot programme that’ll use Google Glass hoping to make its passengers’ journey better. Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display – like glasses! Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like, hands-free format.

TechRadar says “Concierge staff in the airline’s Upper Class wing will use wearable tech to speed up check-ins, to update passengers of any flight changes, exciting weather developments or interesting events at their destination, and to translate between different languages”.

I have heard and read about Google Glass over the last few months, but if I’m honest at times it all gets a little confusing; I am hearing so many different things, good and bad. I like to be up-to-date and be able to understand new technology, as no doubt most of you do too. So, with that in mind I thought I would dedicate this week’s blog to finding out and sharing the top 5 things I have learnt and what we can expect ‘good and bad’ with Google Glass.

  1. Google Glass is packed with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, speakers, a camera, microphone, touchpad and possibly a gyroscope that detects head-tilts. Then there’s the main piece, a tiny screen the size of your finger that shows you all the information you need.
  2.  No more rummaging around for a camera,  Just say, “Take a Photo” and your view at that moment  will be captured, hands-free! However, the camera sensor in the Glass headset is fairly poor, it’s at least three or four generations behind whatever is in the top-end iPhone.
  3.  Google Glass is built with a GPS chip so it will be able to help you navigate, with help from Google Maps. This will take away the need to look down at your smartphone and it will be especially handy when you are driving, when you’re walking through crowded streets or when you’re hiking through the countryside.
  4.  You can’t fold Google Glass’ side bars in, as you can with normal glasses, so they will take up a little more space in your bag or coat pocket.
  5.  Not very good in sunlight.  The projector-based displays don’t seem to be very good outside and you really need something of a solid backdrop, or even better to be indoors.

Here is a great little video that has been launched  from Computer weekly on how the glasses may assist you on the first day of a new job in the future can be found here www.computerweekly.com

So with these points in mind does the thought of owning a pair of these still excite you? My personal answer to that question is ‘yes’, I can’t wait to feel like I’m an action movie hero using my high tech glasses to try and save the world!

However, I guess until then I’ll continue to enjoy my exciting work with my ExplorerLAB™ Mobile Science Lab.  If you would like to know a little more about the work I do with my good friends at LapSafe®, then visit their wonderful new website – www.lapsafe.com

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David Price from ‘Science Made Simple’ on the LapSafe® stand at the Bett show 2013

My very good friends at LapSafe® have exhibited at the Bett show in London (the global meeting place for educators from around the world) for the last 14 years. This exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to see new innovation and technology especially designed for use within their sector. I myself have attended the exhibition alongside my friends from LapSafe® on their stand for the last 5 years with my mobile science cart, the ExplorerLAB™.  We have been lucky enough to welcome some wonderful people on the stand in recent years, and I am so delighted to announce that once again David Price from ‘Science Made Simple’ will be attending the Bett Show 2014. He will be running an exciting science workshop from 11am, and also some science busking throughout the day on Friday 24th January on the LapSafe® Products’ stand, F186.

David has attended the Bett show and demonstrated on LapSafe’s stand for the last couple of years, his workshops and busking have been exciting, educational and unmissable. So if you are thinking of attending the Bett show on Friday 24th January 2014, make sure you come along to the stand, not only to watch David bring science to life… but to see me and my fabulous ExplorerLAB™ in action!
For more information on my Mobile Science ExplorerLAB™, please visit LapSafe.com

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David Price from ‘Science Made Simple’ on the LapSafe® stand at the Bett show 2013

Penny for the guy!

As Halloween has passed and Bonfire night is nearly upon us, I was interested to know why we throw a ‘guy’ onto the bonfire!

Penny for the guy

On 5th November every year, the effigy of Guy Fawkes is still burned on bonfires across England in recognition of his part in the failed ‘Gunpowder Plot’ of 1605.

 

 

 

Fawkes didn’t devise or lead the plot to assassinate James I, so why is he still singled out as one of British history’s greatest villains more than 400 years after his death?

Guy Fawkes was in born in April 1570 in York.  Fawkes was described as an imposing man; his former school friend Oswald Tesimond, who had become a Jesuit Catholic priest, described him as “pleasant of approach and cheerful of manner, opposed to quarrels and strife….loyal to his friends.”

 

Tesimond also claimed Fawkes was “a man highly skilled in matters of war”, while his historian Antonia Fraser described him as “a tall, powerfully built man, with thick reddish-brown hair, a flowing moustache in the tradition of thee time, and a bushy reddish-brown beard…a man of action…capable of intelligent argument as well as physical endurance, somewhat to the surprise of his enemies.”

 

It was while on campaign fighting for Spain in Flanders that Fawkes was approached by Thomas Wintour, one of the plotters, and asked to join what would become known as the Gunpowder Plot, under the leader.

His expertise with gunpowder gave him a key – and very perilous – role in the conspiracy, to source and ignite the explosive.  But 18 months of careful planning was foiled with just hours to go, when he was arrested at midnight on 4 November 1605 beneath the House of Lords.  Thirty-six barrels of gunpowder were found stacked in the cellar directly below where the king would have been sitting for the opening of parliament the next day.  The foiling of the plot had been expertly engineered by James I’s spymaster, Robert Cecil.  Fawkes was subject to various tortures, including the rack.  Torture was technically illegal, and James I was personally required to give a licence for Fawkes to endure its ravages.ship of Robert Catesby.

While just the threat of torture was enough to break the resolve of many, Fawkes withstood two days of the most terrible pain before he confessed all.  His fortitude throughout had impressed James I, who said he admired Fawkes’ “Roman resolution”.  Fawkes was sentenced to the traditional traitors’ death – to be ‘hanged, drawn and quartered’ and his lifeless body was hacked into quarters and his remains sent to the “the four corners of the kingdom as a warning to others.”

The burning of the ‘guy’

Guy Fawkes instantly became a national bogeyman and the embodiment of Catholic extremism.  It was a propaganda coup for the Protestant English and served as a pretext for further repression of Catholics that would not be completely lifted for another 200 years.

It is perhaps surprising that Fawkes and not the charismatic ring-leader Robert Catesby is remembered, but it was Fawkes who was caught red-handed under the Houses of Parliament, Fawkes who refused to speak under torture, and Fawkes who was publicly executed.  Catesby, by contrast, was killed evading capture and was never tried.

Through the centuries the Guy Fawkes legend has become ever-more entrenched, and by the 19th Century it was his effigy that was being placed on the bonfires that were lit annually to commemorate the failure of the plot.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/people/guy_fawkes

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Remember: Fireworks are not toys.  They are explosives and the injuries they can cause can be devastating.

Here are some facts about fireworks and potential risks of not using them properly.

  • Sparklers get five times hotter than cooking oil
  • A rocket can reach speeds of 150 mph
  • A firework shell can reach as high as 200 metres
  • Three sparklers burning together generate the same heat as a blowtorch
  • You see the explosion of a firework before hearing it because sound travels at 761 mph, but light travels at 671 million mph
  • The majority of firework-related injuries happen at family or private parties
  • Around half of all injuries are to children under the age of 17
  • The most common injuries are to hands, followed by the eyes and face
  • Fireworks are safer now than they have been in the past thanks to safety standards.  Make sure your fireworks comply with British Standard 7114 or its European equivalent.  Instructions should be in English.

Source: NHS Choices website

Message from Prof Smartypots…stay safe this firework night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Humble Pumpkin

Many of you will be purchasing pumpkins over the next few weeks to make a lantern for Halloween parties but how many of you are aware where the pumpkin carving craze came from? jackolantern4

Pumpkin carving has been happening for centuries and the practice was said to have originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed ‘Stingy Jack’. The myth claims he was an unsavoury character who often lied and thought himself clever; he even decided to trick the devil not once but twice by asking him to do something, making a promise and then going back on his word.

Legend states that when ‘Stingy Jack’ died, God would not allow such as nasty character into heaven. The devil, upset by the tricks that Jack had played on him wouldn’t let jack into hell either, so then he sent Jack off into the dark cold night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip, and it is said that Jack has been roaming the earth ever since!

The Irish began to refer to the ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern”, or “Jack O’ Lantern”. In Ireland and Scotland, people started making their own versions of Jack’s lantern by carving scary faces into turnips and potatoes. They would place them in windows or near doors where they were used to frighten away ‘Stingy Jack’ and warn off other evil spirits. Large beets were often used in England, and when Irish immigrants settled in the United States they found that the pumpkin being native to America was the perfect fruit to make Jack O’ Lanterns from.

Although making lanterns is great fun and I can often be seen carving a scary face or 2, I must say I am a great lover of pumpkin the fruit and I’m sad to see that it only seems to appear on the shelves of supermarkets for many just to cut up and let go mouldy in a cold and wet garden. I find it such a waste of a good nutritional and flavoursome food. Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, sodium and are high in fibre. They are a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.

One of my favourite uses for pumpkins is to remove the seeds and skin, cut the flesh up into chunks and pop in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  I also enjoy a nice warming pumpkin soup with a little chilli sprinkled in it to warm me from the inside on a cold winter’s night. If I’m throwing a dinner party I like to empty out the insides of one pumpkin, line it with foil and then fill it with the hot soup before serving to my guests. Don’t forget to use the pumpkin seeds as well, they are tasty! Clean and soak the seeds, then place in salted water for around 8 hours. Dry them with a paper towel and season them with your choice of seasoning. Or add a little butter or oil to a pan and then roast in the oven…yum! If you want to use the seeds to grow more Pumpkins, seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in colour.

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Well time for me to pop off to my lab to try out some new Halloween science experiments with my ExplorerLAB™. I will let you know how they go next week, but if you need any information on how my Mobile Science Lab can make a difference in science within children’s education, make sure you visit the LapSafe® ExplorerLAB™ page here.

 

Sources : http://www.history.com/topics/jack-olantern-history

images many borax stars

I am generally not one for thinking about the festive season too soon; as you know autumn has only just arrived! However, with this

particular decoration I like to start early, as you really need to make quite a few to make an impact and a lot of these can take a little while.

Making Borax crystal snowflakes is a fun and easy way to make your festive decorations look that extra bit special. Here is one method to try, but it does require adult supervision.

Ingredients you will need:

Borax household cleaner

Pipe cleaners – preferably white

images borax stick

A wide mouthed jar

A pencil or a wooden stickString

Boiling water

Food colouring as a festive option

 

Easy Instructions

1. Cut the pipe cleaners into three equal lengths and then twist them into the shape of a snowflake.

2. Grab your string and tie one end to the tip of the snowflake, and the other to the middle of your stick/pencil.

3. Pour the boiling water into the jar, and then add the Borax.

4. There should be three tablespoons of Borax for each cup of water in the jar.  Make sure to add enough water to completely submerge the snowflake.

5. Stir the mixture until the borax has dissolved.  Be careful, the water is very hot.  Food colouring can be added at this time.

Creating the Snowflake

Now it’s time to lower the snowflake into the water.  Rest your stick on the edge of the jar so the snowflake sits freely in the Borax mixture, making sure that it is completely submerged.

Leave the snowflake to sit for 8 – 12 hours until the pipe cleaner is fully covered in crystals.  Remove it from the mixture and let it dry completely.

The snowflakes look wonderful hanging around the house and in the window; you could also make these to celebrate at other times of the year using different food colourings.  You could make heart shapes for Valentine’s Day, pumpkin shapes for Halloween, Easter egg shapes for Easter, and even make individual letters and numbers to spell out names for special birthdays. images borax stars

This is such a great activity to do at school or home. The ingredients needed are easy to purchase from a supermarket or online.  I’m very lucky to be able to store all the ingredients safely in my ExplorerLAB™ Mobile Science Lab, ensuring that when needed, I can show students this activity wherever my science lab and I may be.

For more information on my ExplorerLAB™ Mobile Science Lab please visit the LapSafe website 

My Top 5 Science Apps.

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When chatting to teachers I am commonly asked about my favourite Science Apps. So, this week I thought I would share my top 5 with you all!

1. Video Science – Free I LOVE THIS APP! It’s my favourite and I love sharing this with visitors to my Lab. The App includes a great range of short science videos, including experiments to inspire children of all ages at home or at school.

2. The Elements: A Visual Exploration – £9.99 This App is fantastic! It consists of amazing information and pictures on the elements that make up this wonderful world we live in. This is the App version of the bestselling hardback book of the same name by Theodore Grey.

3. Ultimate Dinopedia : Complete Dinosaur Reference – £2.99
Whether you are teaching or learning about dinosaurs, this App helps you find out about more than 700 species using this national geographical interactive App.

4. Muscle System Pro 111 – £13.99
This App is a little expensive, but if learning the muscles of the body is something you need to be doing for school or college, then this App is brilliant. Muscle System Pro has been assisting my niece in her revision for her dancing teacher exams.

5. 3D Sun – Free
This is a pretty spectacular App that helps you see a virtual 3D image of the sun at any time of the day. The images are a digital reconstruction of satellite images downloaded from NASA’s STEREO satellite that orbits millions of miles away.

There are many wonderful science Apps available; these 5 are my favourite ones that I use on my own iPad regularly. It is great having interesting subjects available at your fingertips; it helps with teaching, learning and in all areas of our lives. To me, science is a sensory subject, we need to see and feel what we are trying to learn. That is why using these Apps on your iPad alongside my ExplorerLAB is a great combination. You can watch videos of experiments, try them out with my mobile lab and then record the results. Some schools and colleges do not have a specialist science classroom, so the ExplorerLAB can be a benefit to many education establishments in the UK and around the world.

For more information on how the The ExplorerLAB™ Mobile Science Lab could work for your school or college take a look at the LapSafe Website

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