First-year DTC students Joe Thompson and Paul McKeown bring us this post from Bath Taps Into Science 2013.
On a chilly Saturday morning, we set up our stalls in Green Park Station next to Sainsbury’s. This day also happened to be the day of the farmers market, so there was also the teasing smell of bacon in the air. While setting up, we got curious stares from the early morning shoppers which were probably due to our bright yellow t-shirts. There was still time for a coffee before everything began.
The main challenge of this day compared to the previous was the mixed audience. Parents, children and curious shoppers were attracted to our stalls and this really changed the dynamic of our discussions.
The table I spent most of my time on was titled “The Generation of Energy,” with a generic power station prop simulating CO2 release and also mitigation by capture and storage. The emission of carbon dioxide as both gas from dry ice and as a foam from sodium bicarbonate and vinegar, really grabbed the attention of the kids, even going as far as to draw it away from the adjacent tables of bouncy balls!
What typically followed was a discussion on what exactly carbon dioxide is, its link to global warming and a very brief overview of how we can combat emissions. After the two previous runs, the whole routine had been well practiced and the general reception seemed positive. The sort of things we were asked by the children was; where does carbon dioxide come from? why does it foam? and can I do that at home?
It was very interesting to hear the viewpoints and opinions of adults who perused our stall. This interaction was a lot more verbose and covered a range of topics from the appearance of wind farms to the introduction of solar cell on houses. It was certainly reassuring to see that the perils of unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions is a real concern for the general public, particularly for parents who had their children’s future in mind. Parents really engaged with the experiments and some commented on how the interactive nature of the stalls was a great way of getting children interested in science.
Another surprise of the day was to have to opportunity to have a conversation with the Mayor of Bath about what it was we do at the Doctoral Training Centre and have his opinion on the matter of energy.
From Bath Taps, we have gained invaluable experience and ideas to start preparing for our next big outing at the Cheltenham Science Festival. Hopefully this will be another great opportunity to inspire and teach people about science whilst also making a bit of a mess.