A team from Aberdeen Science Centre ran a programme of activities and talks to celebrate the International Year of the Periodic Table.
By Kostas Minas
Our team of scientists and science enthusiasts at Aberdeen Science Centre is always looking for opportunities to make science communication relevant, interactive and fun for our audiences. As such, we seized the opportunity to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev revising the periodic table, in the form we know today.
Given the nature of this celebration, we thought that the specialists at the Royal Society of Chemistry would be the best people to contact. We applied for a small outreach grant for a project we called the “Periodic Table of Fun”. This project’s aim was to inspire our local communities to learn more about chemistry, by promoting the relevance of chemistry in all our lives.
Our approach to this was to develop an interactive workshop and a show, and to update our previous chemistry-related engagements to make them more interactive and even more fun for the participants.
For example, we focused on the smart chemistry smartphones need, and how this determines their functionality. We discussed the elements that make up the human body as well as the elements that make up the sun and planets of the solar system, and how water chemistry makes life on Earth possible. We observed chemical reactions with baking soda/vinegar volcanoes, colour changing reactions with red cabbage indicator and polymerisation with slime.
Apart from the fun interactive activities, we recruited numerous professional volunteers who assisted our delivery of special days, as well as presenting themed talks. This way, professionals from different areas in chemistry informed our audiences about their particular expertise, as well as the educational and employment pathways that lead to each specific career. Furthermore, including professional volunteers in our delivery added a lot of value to our service, and our audiences responded extremely positively to having volunteers involved in our activities. It is worth mentioning that the themed talks – "Challenges and opportunities of renewable energy" by Iain Todd and "Periodic success" by Jamie Gallagher – were extremely well attended and received, with 100% of participants saying that they learnt something about chemistry in the talk.
Looking back at the "Periodic table of fun", our team would like to thank all volunteers and RSC speakers that helped us deliver a wealth of high quality, interactive and fun chemistry experiences to our audiences. Furthermore, we would like to thank the Royal Society of Chemistry for offering us this opportunity. Last but not least, we would like to thank our audiences for their consistently high level of engagement, enthusiasm and curiosity that drove this project forward.
Looking into the future, our team is excited to keep delivering the workshops and shows that make up the "periodic table of fun" to wider audiences and in a larger geographical area, as well as enriching our portfolio with even more interactive, fun and chemistry activities.