Flaming hydrogen bubbles, ‘elephants’ toothpaste’ and exploding balloons do not normally feature in your typical school day. However, pupils from schools across Cumbria and Lancashire are set to be delighted by these magical experiments and more, when they take part in the first ever Salters’ Festival of Chemistry in Cumbria this week.
The fantastic festival is being brought to the county for the first time by the Salters’ Institute in conjunction with the Royal Society of Chemistry. The University of Cumbria is hosting the event at its Fusehill Street campus in Carlisle.
On the day, school pupils will split into teams of four to take part in two challenges that will put their chemistry know-how to the test.
Flexing their forensic flair, pupils will solve a crime challenge set by the Salters’ Institute, and the university will draw upon their analytical chemistry skills to investigate a shipwreck.
A chemical magic show will follow where pupils will watch a spectacle of experiments such as flaming bubbles and colourful foam ‘elephants’ toothpaste’ from mixing hydrogen peroxide with potassium iodide.
Nigel Smith STEM Coordinator and Caroline Sharples, Academic Lead for STEM outreach from the University of Cumbria are running the university challenge and chemical magic show.
Both passionate about getting children excited about science and making them aware of the avenues it opens up, they thought the festival was a great way to get their message across.
Nigel said: “We’re very excited to welcome schools to the first ever Salters’ Institute Festival of Chemistry in Cumbria. Caroline and I are delighted to be hosting the event and are looking forward to sharing some of the fun and excitement of practical chemistry”.
Caroline added: “The pupils will be taking part in a couple of challenges themselves, the details of which are top secret for now, but at the end of the day we will have a fun chemical magic show.
“There will be fantastic colour flashes, amazing reactions, colour changes and cool observations.”
The Salters’ Institute plays a major role in the support of chemistry teaching, the encouragement of young people to pursue careers in the UK chemical industries, and the promotion of chemical education including the whole area of curriculum development.
The festival forms part of a programme of 59 taking place at universities and colleges throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland between March and June 2019.
Audrey Strong, Institute Manager said: “These festivals are a fantastic opportunity to welcome students into a university lab to take part in hands-on practical chemistry. We are delighted that the University of Cumbria has joined our growing festival programme”
Schools involved are: Chetwynde School; Lime House School; Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith; Ripley St Thomas CE Academy, Lancaster; Ullswater Community College, and Windermere School.
The festival is a precursor to a jam-packed calendar of science events planned over the coming months.
On 27 June, in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry, the university is holding a spectroscopy masterclass for year 12 students, as well as a continuing professional development event for chemistry teachers. In addition there are plans for a Festival of Biology on 2 July.
The Festival of Chemistry is being made possible by a generous grant from the Sir John Fisher Foundation.