On a hot sunny Saturday in July, ten volunteers, all members of the Royal Society of Chemistry, arrived at our stand in the Funlab at Cambridge’s Big Weekend. Education coordinator Sue Thompson, who organised the event, reports.
The event took place on Parker’s Piece, and was attended by around 1000 members of the public. Of these about 900 visited our stand, so we were all kept very busy!
We had three different activities for the public to try, including Guess the Smell – where visitors had to match the smell of an essential oil with the herb or spice in which is it found naturally. In another activity, based on our Mission Starlight global experiment, visitors discovered which animals can get sunburnt.
Finally, participants had the opportunity to draw and write on a cotton sheet dyed with turmeric, using only a solution of baking soda in water. Turmeric acts as a pH indicator, meaning it turned from yellow to red where it was painted with the acidic baking soda solution.
Children in particular enjoyed the activities but many adults had a go too, giving us the opportunity to explain the science at various different levels.
It was very rewarding to be able to enthuse so many people about chemistry. One of our volunteers said "These events are not only valuable for the audience, but also for us, the professionals. They re-invigorate the passion for our chosen subject."
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