Last week, in the midst of the annual battle with Freshers lurgy (it was a cold, not flu this year), we headed of to the RAF Museum at Cosford for a science day for Home schooled children. It isn’t always easy to get out for a day during semester but we managed to keep the timetables clear for the event.
As with our last trip to Cosford (back in June for a Chemistry at Work Day), we took our catalysis experiment. The simplest description of this is the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide using various substances to catalyse the reaction. At the most basic level it’s all about foam wooshing up tubes, producing heat and steam. At the most advanced level, it gives us a good starting point to talk about research at Keele on catalysts. The event last week was a very wide age range from fairly young children through teenagers, parents and accompanying adults and other visitors to the museum/helpers for the event. It is quite difficult to find an outreach activity that scales satisfyingly through that range, but now that we’ve had a fair bit of practice, I’m happy that this one does. It is a little more in depth than the standard Elephant’s toothpaste experiment and we compare yeast, solid and solution potassium iodide as the catalysts. The kit was partly funded by the I’m A Scientist prize money I won a couple of years ago.
There are few more spectacular locations to do science outreach in than the Cold War hanger at the museum.