nanila: (old-skool: science!)
[personal profile] nanila
The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition opened to the public yesterday in London! It's on at the Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton Terrace (just off The Mall) through Sunday 10 July. There are 22 exhibits from physics, chemistry, biology, maths, engineering and medicine. Loads of fun interactives, piles of free stuff and many eager energetic scientists to tell you about their work in memorable, bite-size chunks. Please do drop by if you have the time and are geographically compatible.

I'm on the Aurora Explorer stand tomorrow (Thursday 7 July) from 13:30 to 17:00, but will have to depart promptly to go to the Harry Potter premiere. I'm also there on Sunday 10 July from 14:30 to 18:00, when the exhibition closes. Tip: exhibitors will be looking to offload remaining freebies on Sunday, so if you want toys/magnets/keyrings/postcards/other swag, Sunday afternoon is the time to go.

The baby spacecraft I painted are currently having their 5 seconds of fame on the BBC web site here at 02:44, and you can explore the exhibits online on the RSSE web site here.
tassosss: (Default)
[personal profile] tassosss
Boing_boing linked to this a few weeks ago, a science video contest sponsored by ars technica for <3min videos explaining a scientific concept for high schoolers.  The idea is to have a fun informative video of something you could show with stuff around your house.

The categories they have are
Bio: Anything's on the table, from biochemistry to evolutionary biology and ecology. Some ideas to get you started: photosynthesis, deep brain stimulation, speciation, the RNA world, defining consciousness, protein folding, PCR, and synthetic biology.

Physical: Physics underlies most of modern science, from geology to astronomy, so this category covers a lot of ground. Some examples: thermodynamics, the carbon cycle, time dilation, flood basalts, quantum tunneling, superconductivity, red shifts, the double-slit experiment, the black hole information paradox, dark matter, squeezed light, and neutron stars.

Math: Math is a powerful tool to help us understand the natural world, and has become a method of defining worlds—like those of string theory—that we may never be able to observe directly. Some math concepts that might make for good video explainers: higher dimensional geometries, imaginary numbers, exponential growth and decay, Turing machines, Godel's incompleteness theorem, P vs. NP, cellular automata, and the invention of the calculus.

I was thinking of doing one, and have a few ideas not on these lists to do with the water table, and I was wondering what sorts of ideas you would like explained, or would think would make a good science video?


nanila: fulla starz (cience)
[personal profile] nanila
Recap of instroduction... )

I've been invited to run two physics projects at a summer school for Year 11 students (15-16 year olds). I have one project planned already: building a magnetometer and mapping magnetic fields around objects with it. As it is directly related to my work and I've used it before, I feel fairly comfortable with it.

The second project, building a theremin, is new to me. For those who are unfamiliar with it, a theremin is a simple electronic instrument that is played by positioning one's hands near its antenna(e). I found a company (Harrison Instruments) that produces a rather nice theremin kit within my budget of £70. Since the summer school only runs for a week, of which the students really only have three full days for the practical, I discarded the idea of having them build the circuit from a breadboard. I think they'd probably spend all their time learning about electronics and soldering if I did that, and there wouldn't be much time for them to learn any physics. The students will also have to give a presentation on the last day of the school. I thought it would be fun to have them learn to play the Doctor Who theme on it.

I'm planning to use the two oscillators in the circuit to help them learn about harmonics and beat frequencies. As I normally do my teaching at university level with people who have self-selected into science degrees, I'm having trouble assessing whether or not I should try to add any other conceptual illustrations to the project. This is where I'd like to hear the input of non-specialists. Comments answering any of the three questions below, or any other remarks, would be most helpful.

  1. Does the experiment appeal to you?

  2. For this age group (15-16) is it best to stick with one central theme (wave harmonics), or am I underestimating them?

  3. What other concepts might I use the circuit or the theremin to illustrate?
sqbr: pretty purple pi (I like pi!)
[personal profile] sqbr
Hi, I wrote up a brief summary (with pictures!) of a cool science panel about making weird edible gels at a scifi con I went to recently, and it just struck me that you guys might be interested. (Hard to tell what's an appropriate post with such a new comm!)


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