Cambridge Science Festival – Part One

We are indeed privileged to be in Cambridge this year, just in time for its 800th Anniversary year. There are various events organized by the University throughout the whole year to mark the occasion. Additionally, there is also an annual event called the Cambridge Science Festival, which is held in March each year. The Science Festival held this month had over more than 160 events for all ages over two weeks, with the theme "Centuries of Science."

image Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to expose my daughter to such events – hoping that she will get the impression that not only is science interesting stuff, but that it is also fun and engaging (and definitely not just for the geeks and nerds). I think it’s just wonderful that there are events like these where children and adults alike would get an exposure to science. There are several such events in Tsukuba, but we have yet to attend one (too lazy; Japanese language was too daunting; Aya was too young, yada yada yada). So one could aptly say that this was our first experience together. Not just us, actually, because Lola was also here to enjoy the festivities. Just imagine, my Mom, a senior citizen and who is not a science-person herself, having fun doing experiments with us! Kudos to the organizers and facilitators of the event — superbly done!

We attended the events on two consecutive Saturdays. While there were various activities at different venues, I was only bent on attending those which were organized by my department (of course), and those which were organized by the Physics Department at The Cavendish Laboratory. Nothing bad about giving your kid an extra nudge towards subjects you yourself find interesting, eh? 😉

The following are snapshots of some of the events we attended:

March 14, 2009

New Museums Site

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First stop: Zoology Museum. Here’s Aya making her dragonfly toy out of beads and pieces of wire. We moved around the museum and saw preserved animals, skeletons, and other living things thriving in Wicked Fen.
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Sizzling Science – culinary arts meet science. A chef prepared a 4-course meal while a scientist explained various underlying scientific concepts about cooking, health, and nutrition. Our favorite one was dessert: rhubarb sorbet made using dry ice!
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First activity at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy. Aya puts designs on her plastic cup.
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The cup is then handed over to a guy with a heat gun. He explains why the plastic deforms under heat.
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Watch closely! The cup crumples under the heat gun.
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Finished product! The cup has morphed into a pin badge!
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We then moved on to do some cave-painting using some iron-based chemicals. I didn’t know that the cave-dwellers used these stuff. 😛
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This is the "Green Robot" Aya made out of recycled materials. Spent an incredibly amount of time putting legs and arms, but they just kept falling off. 😛
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I was a little disappointed that Aya was more interested in making the robot than watching the magnetically levitating boat nearby (superconductor pellets immersed in liquid nitrogen were placed on styrofoam boats and made to levitate around the magnetic track), but I guess the concept is too advanced to explain to her. Or perhaps the whole setup seems to appeal more to boys than girls?
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Last stop for the day. Here’s Aya making her "tower" out of straws. The goal was really to make a parachute out of straws and paper, place an egg in it, and watch if it was good enough to keep the egg from breaking when dropped. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that far.

Don’t forget to check out Part Two. 😉

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