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Open Day science enthralls young and old

The department threw open its doors once again this year as part of the Cambridge Science Festival.  Donning labcoats and goggles, children and parents alike dove into the magical world of chemistry to explore hands-on what makes our world tick.

Children gasped and gagged at exploding bicarb volcanoes, colour-changing carfbon dioxide lava lamps and bouncing blue goo. 

The more mature marvelled at their forensic prowess as they coaxed DNA from strawberries.

As always, Dr Peter Wothers’ lecture – this year titled “Just Add Water”—did not fail to raise shrieks of laughter and surprise.

Thanks once again to Emma Powney for coordinating this epic event and to all the undergraduate, PhD, postdoctoral and other staff volunteers who donated their time to make it a success.  Special thanks also goes to The Walters Kunder Foundation for its crucial financial support.

Kristian Dalle, postdoctoral researcher in the Reisner Group, writes:

In a fun-filled atmosphere of hands-on science education, the Reisner group’s contribution aimed to raise awareness of the benefits of solar power, and introduce the concept of storing this energy, as solar fuels for later use oin the absence of sunlight.

We presented a series of activities, from fruit and vegetable batteries to hydrogen-powered cars, designed to illustrate the principles behind solar fuels, and demonstrate the feasibility of this technology.

The remote-controlled cars drew the initial attention of many of the younger guests, but it was often impressive to see just how much they already knew.

Many thought-proviking questions tested our understanding and our ability to communicate with both young and old alike.

Parents showed their interest, with topics ranging from hydrogen-powered submarines to awareness of environmental issues and how these may affect their children.

Overall, the day of interaction proved a remarkable success in stimulating interest in many areas of chemistry and communicating how scientific understanding is being employed to address the future energy challenges society faces as a whole.