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Chemistry Open Day Lights Up the Science Festival 2015

Six full-house lectures, 10 local primary schools, 1500 visitors and over 150 volunteers running more than 20 activities – it must be the Department Open Day!

Once again the department’s postdocs and graduate students stepped forward with an army of undergraduates to run hands-on activities and chemistry demonstrations at the Chemistry Open Day on Saturday 14 March. Held as part of the 21st Cambridge Science Festival, this year’s Open Day welcomed over 1500 visitors to the Department, as chemistry enthusiasts young and old got messy at the ‘hands-on’ cornflour slime exhibition in the part 1A lab, while the Part 2 teaching lab overflowed with flowers to illustrate a Clean Energy interactive display. Elsewhere in the lab, a demonstration of the properties of liquid nitrogen created a spectacular show, as fruit and flowers were sacrificed in the name of science.

Theme of "Light"

In celebration of the festival’s theme of ‘Light’, Dr Peter Wothers’ sensationally explosive lecture explored the elements involved over the centuries in mankind’s quest to light the way. The lecture required days of preparation with teaching technicians providing vital assistance both for the preparation and to support all seven showings, including two action-packed school lectures to excited primary school pupils on the following Monday.

Volunteer help

Many people in the department get involved with the Open Day in one way or another: from early February reception staff deal with countless emails and telephone queries about lecture tickets and events, while other department members help by providing liquid nitrogen Dewars, building Perspex tanks or wiring up speakers to be covered in cornflour! From 10 to 4.30 on the day departmental volunteers sort out 800 lab coats and safety goggles, hand out refreshments (including ice cream made with liquid nitrogen), empty bins and fill toilet roll holders--not to mention helping visitors find their way around the labyrinthine department corridors.


I just wanted to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers for yesterday. The volunteers in particular were really ready to stop and have a chat about the science and link it back to the GCSE material my students are learning. We loved it and came away very inspired and motivated to do the best we can”

(email from a local teacher)

The Chemistry Department would like to express its grateful thanks to the Walters Kundert Charitable Trust whose generous support continues to fund the Open Day.