Chemistry at the Royal Three Counties Show

Posted on Friday 8th November 2013
Chemistry-RCS-2

Name: Emily Doyle

Degree: 2nd Year Chemistry with Industrial Experience

Accompanied by Dr Mark Read from the School of Chemistry, and in conjunction with the RSC, I represented the Chemical Sciences at the Royal Three Counties Show this June. The event itself is an agricultural show, featuring fresh produce, farming equipment, and a surprisingly competitive sheep shearing display. The showground, in Greater Malvern, isn’t your usual venue for chemistry; the fields of livestock, steam engines, and a large “Medieval Village” made for a refreshing change from the lab environment – great in some ways, although the sound of one or more large animals in a trailer directly behind our table was an unexpected distraction.

This certainly was outreach in its purest form – most of the attendees had not come expecting a chemistry demonstration and in some cases had simply been ushered into the science tent by the intermittent (but heavy) rain. However, we won them over: both families and larger school groups participated in our highly interactive – and on occasion, explosive – chemical demonstrations, ranging from flame-proof balloons to invisible fire extinguishers and including firm favourite, “elephant’s toothpaste” (if you have never seen this trick before, behold: http://tinyurl.com/lcfmwzw ). Although the participants were mainly children, a number of parents and teachers were satisfyingly puzzled by the “waterproof sieve” trick – a simple yet effective demonstration of water’s surface tension. The day was exhausting but highly enjoyable and we all left feeling we had sparked an interest in a number of minds, and smelling of vinegar and peroxide.

For more on:

 Invisible fire extinguishers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkvW0Fn8OcM

 Flame proof balloons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK6G4-DaFv0