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Children's Workshops Programme 2014 - 2015

November 14th. Make it Fly with Steve Kimmins

Steve from Airbus had made some amaaaaaaazing experiments.

From making a thin strip of paper flutter round the room, flying

yards and yards and yards by pushing a board behind it, to....

...making an alka seltzer rocket fly across the room.

Charles one of our long serving volunteers has given us 20 mini android computers to help

us record our results.

Charles had programmed them for us and he showed us how to

use them.

Once we had assembled the rocket we had to set the launch pad

at a particular angle. We needed to find out which angle was the

most effective, by measuring the angle we projected the flight of the

rocket and then the length of the flight path of the rocket.

Once we had set the rocket, we stood back and waited for take

off. It was so fast you could hardly see it fly. BUT you could hear

the explosion!

We had to make four different types of paper aeroplane

and then work out why they flew in different ways. One

flew fast and far, another slow and glided up, another

could be guided quite accurately.

After we had made them we lined them up and tested


Steve had made a wind tunnel. We could see how wings are tested.

It was really interesting.

Ryan showed us how to use hot air to make a balloon rise

to the ceiling.

We found out that we could make the balloon fly straight up if we put some

gaffer tape at the bottom to balance the polythene.

We also had the chance to ride a couple of hovercraft.

Steve made them and used leaf blowers to power them.

Steve showed us how the hovercraft is propelled by a cushion of

air which is forced out and under the platform.

After we had completed all the activities we prepared our presentations.

Some of us used the overhead projector.

Some of us did a mime to explain how the rocket worked.

It was a great afternoon. So many fun things to do. I liked balancing

a ping pong ball in a stream of air. I recorded everything on the

mini computer. It was really cool.

November 14th BRLSI Young Researchers

This is a serious but fun activity.

It is the second year of the BRLSI Young Researcher Programme. Marie explained the

purpose of the programme. It is for young people over the age of 13.

We talked to PhD students from the University of Bath. They explained what kind of

research they are working on.

We also told the PhD students what we wanted to research too.

Caroline explained that we all have skills and that we need to apply these to research.

We used post it notes to record our ideas.

During the refreshment break we had informal chats.

The PhD students told us more about what they did.

Then we began to build up our research portfolios and plan what we are going to do

over the next month.



October 17th BRLSI Young Researchers Presentation Conference

at the University of Bath


Bath MP Ben Howlett opened The Conference, stressing the importance

of Science, Technology and Engineering and how important it is to have

researchers working in these fields.

Dr. Paul Shepherd, co-facilitator of the programme and lecturer in

The University's Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering chaired

the event.

Cllr Cherry Beath praised the BRLSI for its Youth

Workshops prgramme and expressed delight that

so many girls were involved.

Dr Marie Huxtable co-facilitator of The Programme explained the background

to the Young Researcher Project  and also demonstrated the on line

publication which includes the full report of the Youth Researchers' Programme,

which has been jointly written by all the participants.

The 5 PhD students presented their reports and answered questions.

The audience concentrated hard. Dr Evelyn Lewis from BRLSI was impressed

with the "Commitment of the supervisors and the ingenuity of the Young

Researchers in developing their research projects."

Each University of Bath student explained their role.

And how much they had learned as mentors.

During the tea break the Young Researchers and their mentors mingled with

with the audience to explain their projects.


All the participants had produced an academic poster which summarised

their findings. Everyone attending the conference was able to view the

posters and ask questions in an informal way.

Then it was the turn of the Young Researchers to report back and explain

their findings.

James had researched into the problem of Black Crust which disfigures

some of Bath's iconic buildings.

Barnabas had investigated the possibility of using recycled paper to create

a building material.

It was amazing. The event captivated the interest of all ages.


One visitor summed it up. The enthusiasm is infectious.

October 15th Magnets, electricity and seeing the light 

at The Gateway Centre Snowhill

Feeling the force of magnets and lots of other fun things was

what we got up to.

First we found out about static electricity.

Then we got down to magnets, using them to make the king and queen

move about on the stage,

or load up the gauss gun to fire a magnetized ball bearing

across the floor.

Best of all was the 'magic' putty. Really it was pulverised

iron filing in 'gook'. If we put a magnet on the surface

of a ball of the putty, the magnet sank, slowly deeper

and deeper into the ball until it disappeared.

That wasn't the only thing you could do with it. When

we made a shape we could use a magnet to control it

and move it around. Now that is cool.

We found out how to see the magnetic force field

which suround magnets by using a perspex tray

full of iron filings. If we move a magnet under the tray

the filings made a shape which showed the force


We found out that if a magnet is broken you can't put it together again

because each magnet has a north pole and a south pole. When a magnet

is broken it immediately creates another two poles and so when we

tried to put the magnet together the magnetic force wouldn't let us do it.

We saw another example of this force when

we dropped a magnet down a copper tube.

It took ages for the magnet to reach the bottom.

A clever inventor made use of this force. He put 

a copper coil and a loose magnet in a torch. When

we shook the torch we made electricity! The 

current went up a wire to a battery where the

energy was stored, until we flicked the switch

and then the light went on.

A dynamo works in exactly the same way. If you have copper, a magnet

and movement you make electricity.

Can you see what we mean?

This ball was a puzzle we had to solve. It flashed

a light on and off. Why and how? We'll give you a

a couple of clues. Inside the ball there is a tiny bulb a tiny

battery and two floppy bits of flexible metal. Worked it

out? We did!

It was a really awesome session. All of us

were brave enough to conduct electrons

from the plasma ball to a light bulb

to light it up. We'd didn't feel a thing.

What a great afternoon.

October 12th 'Our Dynamic Planet' with Elizabeth Devon

Elizabeth presented some Earthlearningideas to help us learn about

the way in which the earth's crust and the movement of tectonic

plates create mountains and also earthquakes and tsunamis.

It was great fun.

We used party poppers and weights to learn about the

way in which scientists monitor volcanoes to provide

protection for local people. And we experienced how

uncertain the forecasting is. It was really frightening

in a fun way!

We had to create an earthquake, using house bricks.

We had to pull hard to test the resistance of the bricks

We used a luggage scale meter to measure the strength of the earthquake.

One team piloted the use of mini android tablets which we will all use in

future workshops to help us record our findings. Charles, one of our long

standing volunteer helpers, very generously donated 20 to the workshops

and is busy devising various programmes to help us to use them.  They

are really cool. They do all sorts of things, including taking photos of the

experiments. Here we are working out how volcanoes erupt.

We found out how tectonic plates move and the effect that the movement

has on the surface of the earth. We did this by filling a container with

layers of sand and flour and then pushing the layers.

Then you could see the folds. Just like those in the cliffs

above the coast of southern England.

When there is an earthquake under the sea there is always the possibility

of a tsunami. Paul showed us how this occurs using a container of water.

We pulled a block of wood away from the base of the container. This

created a wave.

We had to time the movement of the wave and make calculations

so we could see how the depth of water influences the height of

the waves. It was fascinating.

After we had completed all the experiments we then prepared

and delivered a team presentation of our findings to the

whole of the workshop.

It was a truly amazing afternoon, so interesting and so much fun.

At the end of the afternoon, we queued up to receive

a copy of the new BRLSI Geology Trail which Elizabeth

had helped to devise and was launched on the day.

Meanwhile all the volunteers queued up for a drop of

champagne, in a paper cup, to celebrate their

winning of the Graphic Science STEM Events of The

Year Award for 2015. What a great afternoon!


October 6th 'Awesome Science'

Curo Offices, Foxhill


It was all about magnets.

Did you know that the earth is a big magnet and that is how compasses work.

If you drop a magnet down a copper tube it takes forever.

And that is how you make electricity. A magnet,

copper and movement makes electricity. We made

electricty by using dynamos. That is how we lit

up the lights.

We found out that light rays slow down when they hit the

surface of water and they bend. We put a coin in a tray.

Then we stepped back until we couldn't see it. Then

Pauline poured water into the tray and amazingly after

a while the coin appeared! That proved that the light

rays had bent.

We also saw how light reflects off glass and makes such pretty

shapes in a kaleidoscope.

Danielle had brought her 'google binoculars'. They

are really awesome. Using an app. on her mobile

phone we could look at the surface of Mars in

close up!

Then Danielle showed us how to use the ipads. It needed quite a lot of


Once we had mastered it we could show our parents what we had learned.

Our parents had fun too. It was a brilliant and enlightening afternoon.

Science is awesome, for everybody.

September 16th 'Away with the Birds'

At the Gateway Centre, Snowhill.


Although it was a very wet afternoon we had great fun finding out

about birds. We used magnifying glasses to examine feathers to admire

their colour and detail.

We looked at their beaks and found out that they are different

shapes according to what they eat.

We had to look carefully at all the specimens, make drawings

and take notes. We found out that birds have different claws

according to what they eat! A bird that eats grain which grows

on the ground has to be able to walk carefully but a bird of prey

needs talons to clasp their victims firmly so they can eat

raw meat.

We also compared the bones of mammals (this is an

upside down sheep skull) with the bones of a bird.

Bird bones have to be very light so they can take off and fly.

Also birds don't have teeth like mammals. This means

the food goes straight to a bird's stomach and because they

can't chew it some birds swallow stones to help them

grind their meals up. Owls sort out the bones and skin

of their prey and then 'sick' it up as pellets.

We had to wear gloves so we could touch the specimens. None of us

had handled dead animals before. It was very interesting, fun and a

little bit scary, if you are squeamish. We weren't.

What a great afternoon. It was a shame it was

still pouring down when we went home.

September 12th Heritage Open Doors Family

'hands on'  Science Afternoon

and a few other things...

The main topics for experimenters were magnets, electricity and computers.

Magnets are magic! They play havoc with iron filings. You can move the filings

into all sorts of shapes and actually see the shape of a magnetic field.

We found out that to make electricity you need a magnet,

copper wire and movement. A dynamo does just that.

Ben Howlett, MP for Bath was keen to find out about

electrons. We discovered that if you put your hand

on a plasma ball and accept electrons into your body

you can transfer the electric current and light up

an electric light bulb. We really impressed Ben

with our electric experiments.

Steve had devised one experiment to show the energy latent in a magnet.

We released the energy and could shoot a ball bearing across the floor to

knock over a teddy bear. Not very nice for the bear but it was great fun for us.

Charles had linked up a computer to the Faulkes telescope in Australia

so we could see galaxies in the Southern Sky.

Simon had brought a printing press. We all had a go at learning to print

in the 'old fashioned' way. First you had to choose a letter from a tray

where all the letters were laid out in alphabetical order.

Then you had to put them carefully in a container called a galley.

Finally you put the galley into the printing press and pushed the

handle down. And there it was, our own bit of printing!

Danielle had brought a special pair of 'google' binoculars which used an

iphone so you could see the surface of Mars.

Danielle also showed us some tricks you can use on a mini ipad.

John showed us how to use some computer bits and pieces


If we joined them up they could make mini table top robots.

Eleanna showed us a floor robot that moved around,

on its own, flashed some lights and played a a bit of a tune.

We also found out how clever our bodies are. We threw

frogs into a box and began to realise what the brain did.

The eye measured how far the box was away and told the brain,

the hand weighed the frog, the brain estimated how much

effort would be needed to throw the frog to reach the box

and then  it told the muscles when to release the frog.

Phew! Who would have thought that throwing a bean bag frog

was so complicated.

Kath who is an engineer asked us "What do engineers look like?"

And this is the answer.

Meanwhile Joan and Bill tested our observation and

archaeology skills with a series of ten quirky objects.

I was really pleased because I knew this was a geode.

In other words a fossiled bubble.

Then Paul Cresswell asked us to look into his stellarium.

It was magical. Just like looking into a deep, dark star filled

sky. He is hoping that a big one can be made as a 

memorial to Adelard of Bath and put in the centre of the square

so everyone can look inside and share the amazing treat.

It fact it was an amazing afternoon and Bath's MP found it all

very intriguing.

The BRLSI Bath Young Inventor of the Year Award

July 18th at 'Bath at Work'.

Stuart Burroughs and ‘Bath at Work’ hosted the first annual Inventor of the Year Award

for children and young people under the age of 19. This competition aims to inspire

the next generation of young inventors in Bath and at stake is the perpetual ‘Young Inventor’

trophy designed and made by Cross Manufacturing. As well as devising an invention

entrants have to deliver a presentation to explain what the invention is about. We had

made a model, a poster and a power point.

Kath, STEM Ambassador of the Year and a BRLSI

volunteer judged the entries.

Kath presented the certificates to the winners of the under 12s

She also presented the certificates to the winners of the under 18

group. They were the overall winners too.

They will keep the award until February 2016 when the

next competition will take place.

Anyone under 19 can enter. The award will be judged on Saturday

February 20th 2016. Register your interest at


Fossils and Geology at Snowhill July 15th

This was about fossils, like these ammonites

and crystals.

We also pegged up Geological Eras on our time line.

It was amazing to get our hands on creatures that were 160 million

years old

and to be able to see, touch and draw fossiled bubbles with real crystals

of quartz hidden inside them.

Some of us tried to identify and then classify specimens. It was not that

easy. Steve, who had found a lot of the fossils on display, helped us.

We had to calculate the size of an ammonite from a fragment. It was

nearly 60 centimetres.

Duncan let us find out about fossilised sea anemones. We noticed that

they were different colours depending on the rocks in which they

were fossilised.

It was great fun.

Jelly Optics with Kerrianne. July 11th


We puzzled out fibre optics.

Kerrianne who is researching into fibre optics at the University of Bath

was on hand to demonstrate.

Light is guided through the fibre so we can

control where it goes.

We found out that when light hits a boundary like the side

of a glass it bends. It can even reverse the reflection of you hand!

This is called refraction.

We also found out about lasers using some very attractive equipment

It is amazing what happens when you shine

laser deep into jelly.

You have to get down to it to see the effects. Depending

on the shape of the jelly so the light moved in different directions.

We used a white torch to shine through the gummy bears.

Actually the white light is all the colours mixed up. The gummy

bears are the colour they are because they absorb the all

the other colours. This means that a red gummy bear is

red because it has absorbed all the other colours.

When we used the laser pointers which have only one

colour, which is called monochromtic, we could see this

more clearly.

All the experiments were very intriguing. We learned

a lot thanks to the students from the physics department

at The University. What a great light filled afternoon.

Our enjohyment had nothing to do with the gummy bears.

Not really!

Cooking up Cool Science with Ed Snow 11th July

This was all about finding out about food. The taste

the colour and the smell.

Ed from the University of Bath Spa explained it all. He also

made some yummy icecream using liquid nitorgen at the end of

the afternoon.

We had various types of food and we had to make observations and

judgements about them

We learned a lot about food, its tatse, its colour and its importance.

Rainbows and Colours June 17th at The Gateway Centre.

with Steve Kimmins.

This workshop was all about colours. Creating them. Changing them. Manipulating them and....

...identifying them using a spectroscope. This was

a special spectroscope a BRLSI member had brought

back from the NASA museum in the USA. It was really

cool looking at a faint light and seeing the rainbow

like spectrum that it created.

We created our own rainbows on the wall.

But what was special was bending light

and creating different colours by using 

prisms. Some prisms were made of glass.

Some were made out of perspex and then filled with water. We even

used a mirror in water to deflect the light.

We used all sorts of equipment to find coloured light. The

plasma globe was really fascinating.

And a laser pointer changed the colour

of a pink sock!

It was all fun but most intriguing was identfying

the different gases in the different light bulbs

by looking carefully at the spectrum. Each gas

has it own! Now that is a interesting skill.

But getting Steve to show us how to make our own rainbow that was

the best fun. It was a great afternoon.

Rainbows and Colours. June 16th at Southside Centre.

with Steve Kimmins.

We made rainbows.

We used different equipment.

Steve explained how the various prisms and lenses


And we also used a DVD. You can see different rainbows reflected

across the surface when you shine the light from a reading lamp.

Danielle showed us how to use overlays on an overhead

projector to mix colours. It was amazing how the colours

changed when you added a different coloured overlay.

We also found out about Newton's wheel.That

was weird. When you spin a circle of card made

up of all the colours of the rainbow very fast, the

card turns white. Isaac Newton a famous scientist

invented it to show that light is white but it can

be divided up into all the various colours of the



When we puzzled out the facts about the spectrum and

mixing colours and dividing them up, we made notes

to help us remember.

Danielle brought her 'google' virtual binoculars which enabled

us to see views in 3D from all round the world, like underneath

the Eiffel tower and then using her iphone, she just

flipped it and there we were on the surface of Mars! Phew!

Steve showed us another light trick. Just

by filling a glass with water you can change

the direction of arrows drawn on a piece of

cardboard. It was that kind of afternoon.

Something we take for granted, light, is

a marvel of science.

Rainbows and Colours. June 13th

with Steve Kimmins.

Steve on the right, who had devised the workshop, welcomed Bob

Fosbury of the Hubble telescope to the workshop. Bob is an

astrophysicist who has spent 30 years looking into space and

uses spectroscopes all the time.

He had brought his own pocket spectroscope with him and was really

pleased to see us making our own spectroscopes.

We bent light rays through water.

We used light to mix colours.

We found out about Newton's wheel.

Then we wrote up our findings.

At the end of the afternoon we presented our favourite experiments

and explained what what we had found out.

Colours are simply amazing and all this from

white light. It was a great afternoon and we

were pleased to be able to take the spectroscopes

we had made home.

BRLSI Young Researchers: Writing up the Research Paper June 13th

This was the crunch meeting but before we started in

earnest we reminded ourselves of some of the skills

we had acquired during the programme. Observation

and accurate description are essential to research. We

revisited an observation exercise and tested ourselves

against the results we had recorded 6 months previously.  

One of our members had brought in a surprise.

It was a wasp's nest. That tested our skills too.

Then we began to collect our thoughts and ideas.

Some of us were more relaxed about this...

...than others.

It was a time for for serious thinking. We have to complete our

report writing by the end of June. It will be on sale in October.

Can Chemistry be Green? June 13th

With Helena and her colleagues from the University of Bath.

Helena and all her colleagues are working hard to

finish their PhDs but they gave up their Saturday afternoon

so we could all have fun  with Chemistry.


There are so many things that chemistry can help us with

that do not damage the planet.

For instance you can make pastic from  ordinary items

like corn and sugar instead of fossil fuels.

It is possible to make cars that can run on a gas called hydrogen.

If you know how, you can convert fruit into batteries to light up a LED

or set off a buzzer,

or power a rocket with ethanol.

We made masses of stuff that we could take home. We stored it on

our team tables while we worked hard at our next activity.

It was a fantastic workshop. We enjoyed it so much we gave all the volunteer

helpers a rousing three cheers to thank them.

'Make it fly' at The Gateway Centre May 20th

This was a great afternoon. We learned that there are many different ways of making things fly.

Steve had made various experiments to demonstrate the principles of flying.

We used his hovercraft.

We also fired a rocket, made a hot air balloon fly and did lots of different

experiments to find out the principles of flight.

We heated up the air in the hot air balloon

by using a toaster!


Once the balloon filled up with hot air it flew up to the

ceiling, it was difficult to control.

We found out that you can balance a smooth surfaced

ball in a stream of air.

Then we tried to blow a postcard over. You can't because of the weight

of atmospheric pressure from above.

It was quite difficult trying to use differential pressure to make

a coin drop into a glass.

And it is impossible to blow a small ball of paper into a bottle.

But if you direct a stream of air across the top of a sheet

of paper it rises. That's what gives an aeroplane lift off.

Then we fired a rocket!

And we found out more about how  hovercraft works. If you direct a

strong stream of air underneath a board, it lifts heavy weights and can

transport them.

It was a really fun afternoon.

'Body Bits and Pieces' at Southside Centre May 19th

This workshop was all about finding out how marvellously

clever our bodies are. For instance we need two eyes to

judge distance.

And our bodies contain zillions of electrons, which explains why most of

us crackle with static electricity.

Pauline and Danielle checked the ipads we used.

Helena and Hannah helped us make models of body cells.

Here we used plasticine to make red boodcells and also a

blood clot.

Then we used pipe cleaners to make a

brain cell. It was quite complicated. But

then that is what you would expect.

It was a really fascinating afternoon. We certainly

used our brain cells.

BRLSI Young Researchers complete their programme and present their findings May 9th

As members of the BRLSI Young Researchers team we

met up and made a presentation of our findings at the end of our 6 month

programme in front of a small audience of friends and families.

The project isn't finished. We still have to  write the research paper which

Marie and Paul will edit. When that is published we will have a full presentation

and launch of the publication at the University in early Autumn.

The two Pauls and Marie started the conference off with very short keynote


Then the PhD students gave a three minute description of their part in

the project; followed  by a 5 minute question time. This is Ammar

giving his short talk.

We met up for half an hour before the conference to chat

with our PhD supervisors. We finalised what we were

going to say about our research. We also had three minutes

to explain followed by 5 minutes of questions.

We gave our presentations during the second half of

the conference. We had all designed 'academic' posters

explaining and summarising our research and we

displayed these using the digital projector.

We also had the chance to explain things during the conference interval.

And everybody had a chance to have a drink.

It was fun showing our supervisors our finished work. But we were

stressed about having to give our presentations after the interval.

Some of us had worked in small teams. So we presented together,

Gianluca not only gave his own presentation...

... but he had to present for his Young Researcher collaborator

who sadly had to miss the presentation because he was

taking part in the Ten Tors Expedition on Dartmoor.

We were all very pleased (and relieved) when it was over. It isn't finished

yet. We have more to do and we are planning to meet again in June

when we will plan what we are going to write for our research paper.

Stupendous Stones and Raucous Rocks May 9th

With Eddie Bailey of Aggregate Industries and Adrian Wilkinson of Quarry Design Ltd.

We found out that we walk on them, we live inside them, we even eat them.

We weighed up a lot of different specimens. This is galena. It is

amazing that you can work out the density of metal minerals by

weighing them and using water jugs to find out their volume. It was

great fun to weigh a mystery parcel wrapped in silver foil  and we

were pleased that we found out it was a huge specimen of pyrite (Fool's Gold).

Eddie and William helped us work it out.

Amy helped us use different types of sand to build castles and

demonstrate how landslides occur and how they can be prevented.

We measured the angle at which a sand castle collapses. Then we

used a computer program to see if our slope design worked.

We compared rocks of different roughness and strength to work out

which would be best for particular roads. It was a challenge. If we put

the  rocks in the right order of skid resistance, we could get the key to

unlock a trunk full of  secret prizes ( bags of pyrite)..

We had to be careful when we used water to help us to calculate

the volume of the metal ores.

When we had sieved sand we told Amy what we thought was the 

best angle for the slope in the railway cutting.

There were some really tiny specimens that

we had to examine very carefully and this

really big specimen of calcite.

Then William helped use understand how the density of a metal ore

affects the cost of transporting it from the mine to the factory.

The strength of rocks is very important in making concrete,

so we had to choose some chipping samples to analyse, using an

Aggregate Impact Testing machine.

Then we matched shiny minerals and crystals to their every day

use. Fluorspar in toothpaste, calcite in cream cleaner, copper

in electrical wires, haematite in cutlery, sulphur in striking matches,

sphalerite in batteries and coins, galena in lead crystal and many more

Hmmm, what to score the event!

It really was serious fun. We learned lots and had lots

to think about. It was a stupendous afternoon looking at

and handling some awesome rocks and understanding

how they are used in all our lives


Building a Radio with Steve and members of the Radio Society of Great Britain

May 9th

Steve planned, arranged and ordered all the parts we needed to make

our own radio. He looked after the workshops with his three colleagues

and volunteers from BRLSI.

The Radio Society of Great Britain had very generously given BRLSI a

grant to cover the cost of the parts we needed. It was a really great day,

with lots of equipment, parts to assemble and lots of expertise on hand

to give advice.


And of course there were the detailed instructions we had to follow.

We provided patience, concentration and determination.

It was not straightforward. You had to work out exactly where 

every compenent had to go.

Then  you had to place it precisely in the correct place.

Finally, very carefully and with a steady hand you had to weld it in place.

We had to check that we had completed each task accurately

Then it was back to assembling the items again.

We had three key stages to complete and at the end of each stage

our hard work was examined.

Finally Steve tested the radio and we got to transmit.

And better still we took our radio home with us.



Sunny April 22nd in Snowhill

The Body and ipads

It was a really fun afternoon.

John from the BRLSI had brought six mini ipads.

Six of us got to use them straight away.

The rest of us had fun finding out things about

the body. First you had to read the instructions.

Some of the activities were about how the brain works.

If you roll up a piece of paper and stare down it

and then put your other hand up at the side, it

looks as if there is a hole in your hand. The brain

has been tricked and has misinterpreted the signals

sent to it by your eyes. Amazing!

We found out about blood. We even made model red

blood cells.

Then we used our body to make different noises.

Compare the sound of tapping on your forehead

with the noise you make when you fill your mouth

with air and then pop your cheeks.

We practised hand eye co-ordination

and learned to observe carefully and describe what we saw.

We learned how the heat and perspiration on

our hands can have an effect on substances.

This is the fortune teller fish!

Some of us made drawings and wrote about what we

had discovered.

At the end of the workshop we found out about digestion

by eating a marshmallow. Now that was a good idea.

But a lot of us thought the most interesting thing

was to learn about how to use the ipads.

So the fun workshop was over and they locked us out while they

tidied up. At least it was sunny so we could ride our scooters or

play football. It had been a really great afternoon.


Electricity, magnetism and ipads at the Southside Centre

Pauline brought the equipment in on a very sunny day.

John brought six ipads.

We found out about magnets and magnetic fields.

It is amazing that the earth is a huge magnet and that

a compass moves around until it points to the magnetic north.

We had fun using magnets to move characters

in a story about a little 'royal'  family.

There were a lot of activities that showed us how electrcity is made by using

magnets, copper and movement. This we could see in the plasma globe.

We all had a go. It was fun and really interesting.


Sustainable Chemistry April 11th

Emma who is researching a chemistry PhD organised

and ran the workshop.

She has recently won the South West Regional of Famelab

(a bit like X Factor for Scientists) and she has the National

final coming up in late April. She brought her friends

from the University of Bath to BRLSI to help her.

It was a very busy workshop.

We learned that it is possible to make plastic from ordinary items
like corn and sugar, instead of fossil fuels.

We found out that in the future we might be able to make cars run on 
a gas called hydrogen, which only makes water when we burn it!

And did you know you could make a battery out of fruit and light up

a LED or sound a buzzer.

There are so many things that chemistry can be used for which don't

damage the planet.

We learned about some of them and made notes. Maybe we should

go on to university to do some research to find out more!

How do the flowers grow? Victoria Park Greenhouse.

April 11th

Matt, the gardener showed us the greenhouses.

We saw some seedlings and then Matt pointed to a tree

growing outside in the park not far from the greenhouse.

It was nearly 80 feet tall. 'That's one I grew earlier,'

he said with a smile.

We had a chance to water some of the plants.

Matt told us all about seeds and he showed us how

to make mini greenhouses and plant seeds in them.

He told us to take them home. The seeds

should germinate in a fortnight or so.

Matt showed us how to take cuttings and plant them in

a pot.

We were able to take a pot of 5 cuttings home with us.

It was amazing.

Milky Way Galaxy Zoo. April 11th

Charles told everyone he had arranged two time slots on the Faulkes telescopes.

Half an hour on the telescope in Hawaii and half an hour on the telescope

in Australia.

Sadly the telescopes let us down. It was cloudy and we couldn't get the live pictures we wanted. Charles was not pleased.

But he, William and Edouard were able to give us loads of information and images that Charles had saved from previous

viewings.  So...it was still very interesting and fun!

Young Researchers prepare to present their findings. April 11th.

The young researchers reported back on what they had completed over the

last month.

Marie had a chat with each young researcher.

Each supervisor checked the results and progress.

Everyone had something interesting to report

The plan is to complete the work by the end of April and then to

present the findings in a series of posters, a research paper and also

a conference at BRLSI and maybe another one at the University of Bath.

Magnets, Electricity and iPads at Foxhill April 1st


The workshop was held in the Curo Community Room.

We were able to use the brand new ipads which Curo

had helped BRLSI to purchase. They were really interesting.

We used them as a tool to create a short illustrated


Then we projected the stories on to a big screen. It was really cool.

There was also a chance to find out about magnets.

Dropping magnets down a copper tube demonstrated

the energy created.

It was amazing making electricity. All you had to

do was turn the handle of a dynamo. By doing

that you moved copper inside a magnet. That

made the electricty! We never knew that

before. Now we do. It was a great afternoon.

Ipads, magnets and electricty. Lots of bright sparks!

Bath Taps into Science Victoria Park March 21st 2015

It all began with Young Researchers setting up their stand. There were so

many volunteers from the university crowded into the marquee that they

had to go outside and use a park bench.

Liz a BRLSI member set up the BRLSI book and publications stall.

Peter another BRLSI member tested his activity. He was outside too

because there wasn't enough space for all the BRLSI activities

in the marquee.

Other BRLSI student volunteers were outside in the

park doing physics busking. Some of their customers

were very small.

Inside we had a go at the spectroscope.

We looked at Newton's Wheel.

The physic buskers were still tempting us to do things outside, although

it was quite cold.

The Young Researchers were on their stand explaining their programme

and project.

Ed from the University Public Engagement Department, who helped BRLSI

set it up, was really pleased to hear about the work the Young Researchers

have done with their supervising PhD students.

Lots of members of the public listened

to the presentations. They thought it

was a great idea.

Meanwhile some of us were amazed by the plasma ball.

The adult visitors joined in the fun too. Over 1,100 came!

Finally we emerged from all the excitment. Our heads were buzzing

with all the amazing science. It was a fabulous day.

Bath Taps into Science at University of Bath Friday March 20th

It was the day of the partial eclipse. BRLSI volunteers were setting up for Bath Taps

into Science when it began. It was quite cloudy so we didn't see an awful lot


Then the clouds cleared and BRLSI member Professor Julian Vincent got

some really good shots. We were really pleased to see the nearly 90%


Back inside Steve, Bob and Paul put the fun activities stand up.

Bob helped Steve get the hot air balloon ready.

Then we rushed in. It was an amazing event. There was so much to do.

Many things were fun. Some were very interesting. Some were puzzling.

Everything was there waiting for us to have a go at.

We had to concentrate very hard when we

used the spectroscope.

We found out about how magnets work and help create

electricity. We used various pieces of equipment including

two types of dynamo.

It was interesting seeing Emma and Jan on a university stand.

Normally they help us at the BRLSI workshops in Queen Square.

It was great fun making the hot air balloon fly

right to the top of the sports hall roof and then

watch, as it air inside it cooled down and it slowly floated

back down.

Laura showed us what happens when you shake magnets inside

a coil of copper wire.

There were always queues to use the plasma globe.

We used the telescope to see the planet Mars. Well not really Mars. It was a picture

which was fixed high up on the Sports Hall Wall. You could hardly see it with your

naked eye, but through the telescope it looked enormous.

The whole event was very enjoyable and hundreds of us were really impressed

with all the fun scientific activities. So we then had a debate, which was

the most impressive: Bath Taps into Science or the eclipse. Both! They

were different in their own way  and they were both absolutely fantsastic.


The Gateway Centre - Magnets and Electricity Wednesday March 18th

We started the afternoon by using magnets to find out about magnetic fields.

We found out about the magnetic poles and compasses.

After we had found out that copper and magnets combine to make

electricity, we used wires and bulbs to make an electric circuit.

We felt proud when the bulb lit up to prove that we had

wired the circuit correctly.

We had such fun making use of the plasma globe. We completed

a circuit ourselves using our fingers and we were able to light

up a low energy light bulb. It was a really interesting workshop.


Southside Hub All about Sound Tuesday March 17th

We spent the afternoon finding out about sound waves.

We used this slinky as a model of a sound wave.

We banged a drum, very loudly.

We made other sound vibrations using paper and a comb.

Then we compared the length of small metal plates and noticed

the different sounds they made. Glockenspiels are really

interesting instruments.

We noticed the same kind of thing on the kalimba.

It makes such pretty sounds.

Of course you can vibrate the air in a recorder.

There are so many different types of sound. Striking

bronze plates together makes a long lasting gently

ringing sound.

It was a really fun afternoon. Plucking, shaking, blowing

and finding out where noise comes from and controlling

it so that it went to all sorts of pretty places.

Brainwave. Saturday March 14th

A team of undergraduate and postgraduate students from the University

of Bath, Pharmacy and Pharmacology Department visited us and showed

us how the brain works.

We even made a brain of our own

and found out how the brain responds to external stimuli!

We had to make a brain cell.

The type of cell we made is called a neuron. Each neuron is made up

of different parts which do different things. Dendrite, myelin, axon and

synaptic terminal. The model we made was quite complicated. 

We also found out how fast the braIn can process information. We

used a computer to help us with some of the calculations and tasks.

The brain is made up of different parts. Each section has a different

function. We copied these shapes onto our balloon brains.

There were four different activities which explained different aspects

of the brain.

We had to follow instructions. That tested our brains!

And we had to work things out carefully which demonstrated our

brainpower and the effectiveness of the brainwaves!

Then right at the end of the workshop we demonstrated the path of a

brainwave by passing brain messages (balls of cotton wool) around a

complicated network  (our grasping hands).

Phew! We managed it. It was a really great afternoon.

Somebody gave the workshop 1,000,000 out of 10.

Now that was a brainwave.

'What's all the noise about?' - An exploration into the world of sound. Saturday March 14th

This was fun. We listened to the vibrations.

We created a noise and watched the noises creating

waves on oscilloscopes.

We created models of sound waves using a slinky.

We used a flexible, corrugated hose to make muscal sounds

by twirling it around in the air. The faster we twirled the

different the note.

Robert came and demonstrated how it is possible to control sound waves

to make music using an instrument.

We looked inside to see how the mechanism moved

and created all the marvellous music Robert played

for us.

Then we made special vibrations which created almost silent

notes by striking a tuning fork very hard.

We watched the tuning fork vibrate in different bowls of water.

The tuning fork made very violent, concentric sound waves which fizzed

across the surface.

We listened to diffierent instruments. We found out how they channeled

the sounds waves into notes.

A tube with tape at the end causes vibrations.

All you need to make an instrument is any kind or shape of

box, a hole and something to vibrate. The kalimba makes

a very pretty noise. It does this by having a resonating box,

a hole and vibrating metal keys.

At the end of the workshop we explained what we had learned.

Duncan who ran the workshop helped us. Some of us thought we knew

a lot about noise but we were wrong. There is so much to learn about sound

and it is all great fun!

BRLSI Young Researchers March 14th


The Young Researchers meet every month. The project

is due to finish in May

At each session the Young Researchers meet up with their supervisors.

They report back to the rest of the group regarding what they have

achieved in the previous month. They work either in small teams or singly.

If they are making something they demonstrate it.

As with all research, things don't always go to plan.

Dr Paul Shepherd of the University of Bath who leads the programme in

conjunction with Dr Marie Huxtable, helps with guidance and suggestions.

After receiving feedback, notes have to be made regarding the comments

and suggestions.

At the end of the programme all the researchers will have to present

their findings. One of the methods that will be used will be the production

of informative posters.

Towards the end of the session the researchers plan their programme

for the coming month.

There was also a meeting to plan the BRLSI Young Researchers stand

at 'Bath Taps into Science' in Victoria Park.

'mysciencefair' at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon Sunday March 8th

This was BRLSI's second visit to 'myscience' fair.

Some of us went to the Music Centre in March  2014.

The whole event was organised by BRLSI member and volunteer Deborah Clements.

217 children and 211 adults visited. The BRLSI Workshops team was represented by

10 students from the University of Bath Physics Department.

The stars of the show were the experiments

devised by us, local children.

There were scores of them!

BRLSI member and volunteer Steve Kimmins helped with the judging.

BRLSI and the Institute of Physics had a joint stall.

There was fun for all the family because BRLSI Workshops

had taken lots of its own experiments.

One very popular experiment was the hot air balloon.

We had to make it fly. Dom nearly lost his head!

It was very busy. Everybody came, parents, grandparents, aunts,

uncles, cousins and everybody was allowed to have a go.

BBC Radio Wiltshire was there too. They interviewed Duncan for live

radio. He talked about how cool it is to be a research scientist and all

about sound, which was one of the series of experiments he was

helping to show us.

We found out what a sound wave looks like.

And discovered how to capture the vibrations in a cup!

Some of us had to solve difficult problems about the pitch and

the sound of such things as tuning forks and measure what note

they made.

It wasn't just about vibrations in the air and sound. We found out about

light rays and reflections.

It was really good that sister and brother could work side by side.

It was really fun learning all about electrons, electricity and using the

plasma globe.

We learned about magnets and their contribution

to the generation of electricity.

We were there all day, so we had to have a lunch break.

Then it was back to work (and fun) finding out

about magnetic fields.

Later in the afternoon our the ballon had its 43rd and last flight. 

It went high up to the top of the building. Then we all

went into the theatre to find out who had won 'mysciencefair' 2015

and all of us got certificates and prizes.

After all that, although we had taken our own experiments and the

afternoon was over, we had to rush back and just have

a final experiment with the BRLSI equipment. What a day!

Exciting, hard work, great enjoyment and it was very satisfying.


Giving Science a Go at Curo Offices Foxhill. Wednesday March 4th

This was our very first workshop. We began by puzzling out the computer.

Then we made a cartoon character do somersaults.

After that we found out about sound. We made a weird noise

using the sound tube.

We made sound waves using our voice.

And we felt the vibrations.

We moved on to find out about electricty and electrons. We felt the electrons.

And we let the electrons travel through our bodies and into an electric light

bulb. It was an interesting afternoon and a great introduction to Science. 

It was really cool start to our monthly workshops.

What's All The Noise About at The Gateway Centre February 18th


The workshop was all about sound. You can actually feel sound waves.

All you need is a carboard tube and a bit of parcel tape. Then prepare

for your fingers to be tickled.

We banged a big Irish drum -that made big waves of sound

We made some very pretty sounds using the Kalimba

And we also listened to vibrations inside a paper cup.

Some of us got down to earth to listen to vibrations in the piping.

Then we demonstrated our skills and made glasses full of water

sing to us!

Of course we could demonstrate beautiful sounds

using instruments.

The sound pipe made weird sounds if you swung it

round vigorously.

It was all very intriguing. We had to work it out. How do these sound waves make

different noises? And how can we control them?

We all had a go at working it out.

Then we all sat down and listened very carefully to the sound of silence!

Now that was fun, funny and seriously interesting. It was a fascinating


BRLSI Young Researchers. February 14th 2015


We are a group of BRLSI Young Researchers and every month we  meet up

with Dr Paul Shepherd of the University of Bath and Dr Marie Huxtable of

the University of Cumbria and a group of doctoral and post doctoral students

from the Architecture and Civil Engineering Department. We are doing

research into the built environment.

At the beginning of the afternoon we explain what

research we have being doing during the previous month.

Here a Young Researcher is explaining what he has found 

 out about the black crust that appears on the outside

surface of buildings in the centre of Bath.

We also meet in small groups with our PhD supervisors and we discuss

our projects.

This is a very new project. The University of Bath has been supporting the

intitiative and Dr Helen Featherstone visited to meet us and find out what we

have been doing and how successful we feel the Young Researcher programme

has been.

Every time we meet with our supervisor we plan what we are going to

do during the next month.

The project is due to finish in May. We will have to make

a presentation to explain the results of our research.

One of the ways we will do this is by producing big posters. So we

finished the afternoon by beginning to design a big poster. It is a really

demanding but satisfying project. It was alo really good to meet Dr Helen

and find out that she is really impressed with what we have been doing.

Be a zoologist. February 14th 2015

Dr Emily ran the workshop and Dr Roger supervised the dissecting of owl pellets

Owls swallow their prey whole. Then they regurgitate

the fur, bones and claws in pellets. So that we could

find out what the barn owls had eaten we had to wet

the pellets.

Then we looked carefully. When we identified something


we looked again and identified what is was by consulting a chart.

Someone found a shrew's skull, several found claws and there was a

lot of fur!

We also had the chance to find out how to identify mammal skulls.

We could also see how jaws fit into the skull and how they work.

You had to look very carefully to find out which animal

skull it was.

After we had completed our investigations and written up our observations,

Georgia who is 16 and has been a young naturalist for the last 6 years, told us

how she observes, records and studies wildlife.

She writes a blog about it and she has been on Winter

Watch and CBBC. She encouraged us all to use the skills

we had learned. Maybe we will have time to do some

observations and then store them in our BRLSI Research


Then it was our turn to do a presentation and explain

what we had learned and what we had enjoyed.

Have a heart February 14th


This workshop was about finding out how the heart works.

We found out where to measure our pulse rate. We even listened to it.

We measured out how much blood is pumped through the heart

in one minute.

We had to work it out. Amazing it is 5 litres. That is a lot of liquid!

We found out about blood cells and we used modelling clay to make

models of the cells.

The heart is a very strong muscle and blood circulates through it

twice on every journey. It really makes you think.

Dr Geoff led the workshop and he helped to explain everything.


Then we had to do the explaining to everyone else.Some of us

did a mime to show how the blood flows through the atrium and ventricles.

Some of us made overlays and then used the overhead projector. It was

fascinating to find out how important and how strong the heart

is. And it was Valentine's Day too!

Launch of Bath Young Inventor of the Year by Professor Tony Miles. January 16th.

The Award Trophy designed and made by Cross Engineering                                                                           

Professor Miles launched the award.

He gave an inspiring talk.

He encouraged would be young inventors as they tackled the problem

of building bridges out of paper and paper straws.

Kath Waring a Chartered Engineer who builds bridges as a job

and who is the STEM Amnbassador of the Year devised the

activities and supervised them.

Stuart Burroughs who hosted the event at Bath at Work

Museum encouraged visitors to look at one prototype

made especially for the launch.

It is a robot gardener and was created by an under 12 entrant for the Young

Inventor Award.

The challenges took place between the various very short talks.

Cllr Brett, the Deputy Mayor of Bath, is an Engineer herself. She gave a

very interesting and inspiring talk about her experiences as a young

inventor herself and her work. She encouraged all children to work at

innovation and invention. Then she talked to other visitors....

...while other people worked hard at inventing and 

building their own bridges.

Ben Hoyle, seen on the left, with his works colleagues, gave a talk

about patents.  He helped with an 'Invent It' workshop in summer 2014

at BRLSI. He said it was very important that all inventors protected

their inventions. His firm EIP has funded the prizes for the competition.

Then it was time to test the strength of

the bridges. One bridge held weights totalling


It was a great evening. You can see a display about The Young

Inventor Award at Bath at Work. Why don't you pop in? If you want

to enter go to coolbookings@brlsi.org and leave your name, date of

birth and contact details and we will enter you.

Give it a go. Just start thinking. It is amazing what

you can can do in twenty minutes! So just think what

YOU could do.

Seeing the Light at Southside Centre January 20th.

Sam arranged the workshop on light.

The plasma ball was really interesting. Finding out about electron was cool.

Seeing light slow down in a glass of water was amaaazing!

Using a vanity mirror to reflect the light and  multiply a coin was fun.

The closer you push the mirrors together the more coins appear. I got it

to eleven.

if you interrupt the light with your hands you can

make loads of different shapes.

If you use a 'flick' book the pictures move so fast it is

just like seeing a cartoon film.

We could use a spectroscope and find out what kind of rainbow (spectrum)

exists in different kinds of electric light bulbs. It was a really great afternoon

there were lots of things to do.

Awesome Science with Horningsham School staff, parents and children January 17th 

It was an amazing morning. We learned that the everyday is scientifically

marvellous. Jaspreet showed us that no matter how hard you blow into

a funnel you cannot blow a ball out. It is held in there by air pressure!

And Duncan explained that light slows down when it hits water. If you

put a pencil in a glass of water it seems to bend. That proves it!

And if you try to blow a tiny piece of screwed up paper into a bottle

it jumps out back into your face or mouth if you get too close!

If you are clever you can use a sheet of A4 paper to

balance a glass in mid air between other glasses!

Line up coins and no matter how many you choose to flick against

the rest, the same number will shoot out the other side!

Tie two paper cups together with a very long

piece of string and you can hear sound waves

(your friend talking from way over the other

side of the room)!

Now this is really interesting. If you flick the pages of a book

which has got lots of pictures, but all slightly different, it

makes the images move! Just like a cartoon film.

Did you know that you can float a paper clip in a glass of


Try writing your name on a piece of paper on your forehead.

You'll be surprised.

It was a really fun morning. Some of us needed a cup of

coffee halfway through. It was absolutely fascinating.

Jack showed us how to make rainbows out of a CD.

We used a spectroscope...

and a kaleidoscope.

We even made a magnifying glass out of water!

And we gave a home to abandoned electrons.

After that we sampled the magic of mirrors.

We multiplied money using a mirror.

It was a bit gruesome but we looked into periscopes to see eye to eye!

Static electricty is unbelievable.

It is impossible to write if you circle your leg at the same time.

But if you know how, you can float a lump of plasticine in a bowl of water.

And that was it! It was a really great morning. Our heads were buzzing

as we rushed out into Bath to find something to feed our grey cells!

Crazy Chemistry with Dr Dave and Dr Beth January 10th


Doctor Beth explained that we had to work safely and carefully

We had to put our gloves on correctly

We mixed the chemicals carefully

When we did it carefully:

we made some gluppy putty

or watched colours react with milk,

or made molecules move.

We even learned how to make a molecule

It was very satisfying.

After we had done our experiment we had to write up the observations.

Then we had to prepare for the presentation. Some of the

benches were so messy that one team did the

work on the floor. It was a crazy, fun, fascinating afternoon!


Adelard and his bag of knowledge January 10th


Ruth explained that in Norman times physicans treated everyone in ways

that took acount of the balance of their temperaments. She had made a wheel

to explain how this balance varied acording to age.

Poor people did not have the money to pay for doctors. They used herbs

and flowers from the garden. It is likely that Adelard used flowers from Bath

Abbey gardens and taught people how to make infusions.

Ruth brought lots of ingredients for us to use.


We had to choose a recipe  and read the intructions.

Then we made it.

One of the infusions we made.

Adelard would also have known how to make a poultice and infuse a dressing

to cure a wound.

The dressings smelt very sweet.

In those days people used Roman numerals. These are quite complicated

and result in very long lines of symbols. Izzi who is a mathematican

helped us find out what Roman numerals mean. Then we played a

Roman game to learn about numerals and how our present day numbers

(which were very new in Adelard's day) came about.

Adelard knew all about geometry and symmetry...

... as well as the properties of reflection.

We learned about these ideas by using mirrors and a kaleidoscope

It is amazing what results you get when you put two mirrors together and the

smaller the angle between them so the number of images grow!

Paul who helped us with reflections has designed a memorial

to Adelard. It is really awesome. He has put mirrors at various

angles in a dark box. When you look inside, it is like seeing the

Milky Way!. Adelard was an astronmer too. At the end of the workshop

we were given an Adelard Trail so we can go round the centre of Bath

and see where he played, learned, discovered and sadly finally died

sometime in the 1150s. It was nine centuries ago.

BRLSI Young Researchers Saturday January 10th


Marie and Paul discuss the progress everybody has been making over the last few weeks.

Each young researcher works closely with their supervisor.

They hope to finish their projects by May.

BRLSI Young Researchers Saturday December 13th


It was the second time that BRLSI Young Researchers had met with their supervisors

from the University of Bath, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering.

Marie from BRLSI and Paul from the University of Bath

are cordinating the programme.

First everybody had to report back on their progress over the last month.

There are five small groups each led  by a supervisor.    


Paul was interested to see what the progress was.

Then there was an exercise to learn research skills. Two of the

most important skills are observation and recording.

After completing the exercise  everybody's skills were tested in a group.

Watched on by Leo, Paul's 5 year old son, who is already a keen student.

I wonder what Hastings Elwin (the bust in the background) would have made

of it. He helped found the BRLSI nearly 200 years ago. In those days young

people and children were to be seen but not heard! Now BRLSI and The

University of Bath (which was founded 50 years ago) are bringing

the world of research to young scientists.

Water works for us all Saturday December 13th


Hajira brought some bottles full of water that was very, very smelly.

She told us that we had to make sure the tops of the bottles were screwed

on very tightly. Then  we had to shake the botttles. After we shook them

they smelt even worse!

Hajira told us about Water Aid and how some children have to walk very

great distances every day to collect clean water. Bristol Water encourages

people to support this water charity which helps people build wells and

improve sewerage systems. We learned all sorts of things....

...then she got out the toilets.

We had to do the toilet challenge. After that we had a water quiz to find out

how much we knew about water.

We found out that water is made up of molecules which are made up of

atoms of hydrogen and oxygen.

We collected water in a pipette to examine the effect of

drops falling into a bowl of water.

We found out about surface tension by floating

a paper clip on a glass of water. Yes! You can actually do it.

We found out that you can use detergent to break up the

molecule and reduce surface tension. We actually

made matchsticks sail round the bowls on their own.

Best of all was trying to get a lump of plasticine to float. It wasn't easy,

but it can be done.

At the end of the afternoon we all gave a presentation ,,,,

to explain what we had done.

Meanwhile Hajira had to tidy up.


Milky Way Zoo Saturday December 13th

Charles Draper of the Herschel Society led this workshop. He had hoped to link up with the Faulkes telescope

on Hawaii using the BRLSI computer. Unfortunately it was cloudy on Hawaii. So it was not possible to see

live pictures. Fortunately he had saved pictures from other viewings. So we spent the time helping

to identify and classify galaxies for the Galaxy Zoo project. It was really interesting but not quite

as much fun as live pictures . Charles hopes that the next workshop in May will have fine weather.


The BRLSI Members Christmas Party Saturday December 6th


This was an activity with a difference. It ended with carol singing.........

and topping out the Christmas tree and switching on the lights.

It began with riding the hovercraft.

It was a treat for all ages.

There were delicious refreshments for everybody but only the adults were

allowed the mulled wine!

There were science tricks for everybody to have a go at.

Especially the plasma ball and finding out about electricity.

Then there was finding out about flight by making our own plane and flying it.

The most important job was using geometry and origami

to make decorations for the Christmas tree.

It wasn't straightforward.

All ages had a go....

...and then we put our creations on the tree.

There was an interval when we watched Ed, Queenie and Natalie

demonstrate how to make ice cream using liquid nitrogen!

It was really cool.

The ice cream was delicious.

For people who had brought their thinking caps there were two quizzes to

answer. They were difficult. Bob gave us all the answers!

Then we sang carols, switched on the lights...

...admired the Christmas tree and all our decorations.

 And then we went home.

BRLSI 6th form Philosophy Seminars in conjunction with the Royal Institute of Philosophy

and the University of Bristol. Held on 6 Wednesday afternoons during the Autumn Term


It is the 5th year that BRLSI has run these successful seminars. They are chaired

by a doctoral student in the philsophy department at The University of Bristol.

The seminars are greatly appreciated by the students because they give an

opportunity to explore issues which the school curriculum is not able to offer.

By extending horizons in thinking it also challenges learning. But meeting at

BRLSI is also fun because it is different and offers wider opprtunities.


The Royal Society of Chemistry Experiment November 8th


The experiment made you think quite hard.

You also had to observe very closely and measure

very accurately.

It was all about indigestion tablets.

We had to grind the tablets up.

Then we had to mix in acid to find out the

neutralising strength of different indigestion

tablets by titration.

It was really imteresting.


Make it fly November 8th


This workshop was about flight. From making five different kinds of paper aeroplanes

which fly in very different ways

to a hot air balloon. It was all about demonstrating

why and how things fly.

Duncan showed us the designs of the different types

of paper plane.

We made the planes.

Then we test flew them. We watched carefully to

see which design flew in which way. Some went fast

and long, some glided gently. We could change the

direction and distance by changing the shape and

position of the wing flaps and the nose of the aircraft.

Of course a plane is not the only method of flight. We made an

alka seltza rocket, It shot off really hard, fast and high. It was

quite dangerous so we had to wear goggles. First we prepared

it, then stood back.

The hot air balloon was much more leisurely.

We used a source of heat. It filled the bag. Then

slowly it rose into the air.

Another way of flying is the hover craft. It felt quite weird floating over the

floor on a cushion of air.

We learned about air pressure. It was amazing.

The wing of a plane gets lighter when it faces in one

direction and heavier when it points down. If you blow

between two balloons they get closer together!

And blowing a hair dryer over slips of paper doesn't push

the paper down it sucks it up!

We learned some amazing things, like how

helicopter blades have copied sycamore seeds

We wrote up the results and finally we made a presentation and

told everyone else what we had learned.

It was a great day. Physics for some and chemistry

for the rest of us. Really cool fun.


BRLSI Young Scientist Researchers November 8th


A group of  11 teenagers met with 5 PhD students from the University

of Bath to devise a research programme.

The doctoral students from the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering

aim to share their research with the BRLSI Young Scientists and

to involve them in topics associated with their university studies.

The project will last six months.

In May all those involved in this initiative will present their findings.


Light show at Snowhill October 28th

It was really fascinating, looking carefully to find out all about light rays by following the instructions to 15 different


Anshu showed us a dynamo. She explained that if you have copper

wire and a magnet and you spin the copper wire you produce electricity

and can light a bulb.

We learned about optical illusions. If you flick a series

of pictures fast enough you can have a cartoon show!

Mirror writing is amazing. Reflections are reverse images.

If you know how, you can use mirrors to multiply your money!

Valentin explained that if you interrupt light's journey by blocking it with

your fingers and hand you can make an amazing puppet show!

Everybody was really impressed.

Light is really fantastic and so cool! It was a great

afternoon, made even more special because they had

just changed the clocks and we went out into darkness.


Light Fantastic. October 11th


We found out lots about the everyday use of light. Simple

things that we take for granted....

..are truly amazing.

The Mayor visited the workshop and was very interested when she saw the experiments

and met some of us.

Just learning about what happens when you interrupt

rays of light was great fun.

Multiplying money so that you could see more than one

coin was really intriguing.

Emma from the Physics Department at the University of Bath ran the Light

Workshop. David introduced her and she explained to the Mayor the work the student volunteers

contribute to the BRLSI STEM programme.

We learned a great deal about reflected light using equipment

like a periscope and a torch.

We saw how it is possible to bend light rays. When light

hits water it slows down. This pencil in a glass of water

looked bent!

The Mayor was really interested and Edouard from The University explained.

When we had completed all the experiments we presented some of the

information we had learned to all the other teams. One of the interesting

activities was making a pinhole camera. Here is a diagram of how it works.

The whole workshop was great but being able to take home a pinhole camera

we had made was really cool.

Magical Maths October 11th

We had to use numbers to mind read. By asking people to think

about their birthday and then choose a number we could tell them

the date of their birthday!

Making the magic square, so that all the numbers added up in

the correct sequence, required a great deal of concentration.

Jayne from the University of Bath Spa who devised the

workshop came round and explained things.

She wanted us to find out why the numbers worked in the way that

they did.

We had to record all that we had found out, so that we

could go home and show our families the tricks

we had learned,

The refreshment break was well needed after so much hard work.

The Mayor had a cup of tea too. David explained how our Research Portfolios


It was a really busy workshop.

Then everybody listened to our presentations and found out what we

had learned and enjoyed.

We used a microphone so that people at the back of the Elwin

Room could hear us.

It was a really fun afternoon


Royal Society of Chemistry Lectures for 6th form students  October 8th


Over 110 students and staff from local 6th forms crowded into BRLSI

to listen to a series of lectures given by academics from the Universities

of Bath and Bristol.

There were breaks during the afternoon lectures to enable participants

and lecturers to share ideas and compare notes.

The afternoon was not only enjoyable but gave students the chance to

hear about the latest advances in knowledge and also to meet other

young scientists from a variety of institutions.


Intriguing Science September 13th


It was a really fun day. One of things we had to do was

look carefully at quirky objects and guess what they were.

This was a Portuguese fisherman's hat.

The Deputy Mayor, Liz (who organised the day) and John who ran the stall

about minerals, really enjoyed it too.

There were experiments about air pressure.

We had to blow into various things and make a note

of what happened. None of the results were what you expected!

There was one stall about how magnets are used to make electricity.

It was really interesting to watch what happened when you dropped

a magnet down a series of tubes.

Marie explained how the BRLSI Research Portfolio works. It is one way to

record findings

The day was open to everybody, not just 8+ children, so some very young

engineers really enjoyed it and wasn't Mum proud.

Kath, the engineer asked us 'What does an engineer look like?'

and 'How do engineers keep safe?'.

Ben showed us how to use raspberry pi.

We tried to complete geometric puzzles that the Greeks invented two

and a half thousand years ago.

Adelard was on hand to demonstrate one of the world's earliest computers.

It is called the abacus and he brought it to Bath 900 years ago.

And we used a modern day equivalent of an astrolabe.

It was an instrument used to locate the stars and so

help with navigation. Adelard also brought that to Bath.

It was quite complicated maths, but we were able to

work out the height of a nearby church.

BRLSI is hoping to erect a memorial to Adelard in the centre of

Bath. A member brought his model for the proposed model.

It is beautiful. When you look deep into the memorial you see

reflected pin pricks of light, just like the night sky.

Digital Makers brought some basic pieces of computer

hardware and we had to wire them up.

David and Jaspreet showed us how to isolate out DNA in a test tube!

We looked very, very carefully at minerals

and fossils.

And we juggled balls and clubs to find out more about geometry.

Some of us made a meccano monster which wasn't the

kind of engineering structure, Bob who ran the stall, expected!

It was a really interesting and very popular day.

Summer Competition winners.

The competition was to provide any kind of exhibit about extinction. The winners brought their exhibits to BRLSI and explained them. Then they received their prizes.

Mum, Gran and the competition winners joined Rob Randall and Henry Ford of BRLSI Collections.

They are standing below the 24 foot fossil cast in the Lonsdale Room. This is plesiosaurus (a dinosaur equivalent that lived in the sea).

It was found on the coast of Yorkshire.

The two brothers looked at the extinction of the dinosaurs. This was the moment an asteroid collided with the earth.

This was a five year old's interpretation of the death of the dinosaurs.

Henry Ford chairman of the BRLSI collections presented the awards.

He explained that the reason for the competition was the commemoration of the

extinction of the passenger pigeon exactly one  hundred years ago at about 12pm on September 1st 1914.

It was caused by human interference, in particular hunting and the destruction of the bird's natural habitat for farming.

Rob Randall explained that the extinction of the dinosaur was for entirely different reasons. He pointed out that there

are very few dinosaur fossils in the UK because when the creatures roamed the earth Britain was under the sea!


Saturday July 12th

Be an Engineer.

The workshop was all about feats of engineering and the ways in which engineers work.

Kathryn a Civil Engineer led the workshop. Unfortunately she had broken her ankle gardening but that did not deter her. She still came in to BRLSI  to show us how to build bridges and how important cogs, levers, wheels, axles and pulleys are.

She also brought her Personal Protective Equipment in, so that we could learn about safety. Most of us tried it on. We found out all about the different colours used according to whether you work on the railway or the roads or on building sites.

Kathryn also brought in 15 photographs of some of the greatest feats in engineering, including the pyramids, several of Bath's bridges across the river Avon, The Clifton Suspension Bridge and the amazing Ferrari Building. We had to identify them. Then we had to look carefully at the pictures of different types of bridges and work out how they had been constructed. 

We chose which type of bridge we planned to build.

The models were made out of paper straws.

Different teams chose different types of bridge.

When we finished making the models we had to test them for strength. Their load bearing varied according to the type of construction we chose. Considering the bridges were made of paper drinking straws some of them held quite heavy weights.

There were other things to learn too. We used lego kits to make a variety of pulleys.

It wasn't just about making models, we had to experiment with them to find out which were the most effective arrangements. Here different types of axles are being tested.

It was really interesting finding out how levers worked.

You had to think quite hard to work some of the things out.

At the end of the afternoon we explained what we had learned and what we had enjoyed most.

Each team chose their own way of presenting their findings and each presentation was different.

It was a really great afternoon.

Saturday June 14th

Buildathon with the Radio Society of Great Britain

The volunteers from RSGB arrived very early at about 8:30am to set up all the equipment.

Steve led the workshop.

Cllr Furze, who came to the very first Children's Workshop, when he was Mayor, visited. He is always very interested and he wanted to find out what was going on.

The RSGB set up a radio station. All afternoon they made contact with other broadcasters. It was 'Museums On  The Air' weekend. We hoped to make contact with museums across Europe. Unfortunately the weather conditions were difficult. We did manage to contact one other country. The Scottish Maritime Museum answered our call!

The important thing was to find out how to make a radio.

It wasn't always easy.

We helped each other, as a team.

Cllr Furze had a go himself.

Kath explained the process and also described the STEM ambassador programme which is aimed at improving 'communicating science' by students and professionals working the various STEM fields of practical application and research. BRLSI Science workshops form part of this initiative.

Duncan (a University of Bath PhD student) encouraged us by explaining some of the background physics.

'TX films', an offshoot of RSGB also spent the afternoon with us. They were filming for a slot they have planned for 'YouTube' which will spread the word about BRLSI Workshops to a much wider audience.

Towards the end of the afternoon we began to queue up to check with Steve that the radios worked. We were all 'over the moon' when our  radios received clar signals!

It was great fun and such a relief when we succeeded and took home a working radio. In addition we were all given a leaflet with ideas on how to use it at home. It was a fabulous afternoon. Cool on a hot day of great effort! .

Fossils and other things

The volunteers arrived early to set up. First some of them posed for a group photograph.

and then after that...

 Hiitesh and Marie worked hard on the new interactive website for the BRLSI workshops which we hope to have up and running for the summer holidays. It will have competitions and activities for all of us to have a go at from the middle of July to the beginning of September. 

All the other volunteers worked hard at setting up the workshop. Jude had a chat with Bob about the arrangements.

Then the workshop began. There were four different activities.

Jan and John from the Bath Geological Society explained the fossil specimens.

There was a washing line to demonstrate geological time. We had to peg up pictures of different significant moments in the development of the earth.

It was quite difficult deciding which 'event' came before another. In all there were 15 to put in order. Most of them were cramped up into the last few centimetres of the line!

There was an opportunity to find out about sedimentary rocks and how they were laid down and how the movement of the surface of the earth caused them to be folded and contorted.

Half way through we had a refreshment break.

The fourth exercise was about deposits in caves, especially stalagmites and stalactites. We had photographs of fragile specimens held in the BRLSI Collections. We had to find out how and where they were deposited and plot them on a diagrammatic map of a cave system. There were nearly a dozen different shapes located in very different places.

After we had completed all the activities we had to prepare for the presentation.

Each group made a presentation. One group used the overhead projector. We all used the microphone to make sure everybody could hear what we were saying.

It was really amazing to hold creatures that were millions and millions of years old and even better to find out about them. This was really serious fun.


BRLSI at Queen Square Festival of Nature June 7th 10am to 4pm

The day began with some visitors enjoying fossils in the Jurassic Ark at 16 Queen Square.

Across the square other vistors were meeting Adelard.

It was The Festival of Nature. Everyone was made to feel very welcome.

There were lots of tents with a variety of activities.

The BRLSI stall was in the biggest tent.

Richard was on the stall just before 10:00am when the festival began.

Roger was on his stall supervising the dissection of owl pellets. He then led a walk round the Botanical Gardens to find the nesting boxes children had made at the November workshop and installed in 11 trees dotted around the park. It was really interesting. Sadly only one nesting box had been used. We hope that next year all of them will be home to a pair of nesting birds.

Meanwhile at the BRLSI stall some of the members chatted.

And there were lots of other visitors. Bath's MP Don Foster took time not only to visit the stall but to buy a copy of the book about Adelard and to find out more about the children's workshops from somebody who knows! In all over 2,000 people visted the Festival and most of them visited our stall. At least that was what it felt like. It was a really great day out.

Invent it! May 10th

20 young would be inventors came to this building, the site of Dr Oliver's house. Dr Oliver invented the Oliver biscuit. So it was an appropriate place to start inventing all sorts of things .

Inventing a new card game.

Inventing a new shadow puppet shape.

Using a modern invention (Raspberry Pi) to devise a new website.

Ben, who showed us how to use the Raspberry Pi, is a patent attorney. He was able to explain to everyone how important it is to patent inventions to prevent them being stolen and how to do it.

Ryan encouraged everyone to learn about circuits and how to make an electro magnet.

Some people worked out how to make a rocket from string, sticky tape, a balloon and a clothes peg!

John explained how important shapes and geometry can be in designing new items.

Some clever people designed a way of sending a whisper right across a big room using string and paper cups.

Once you had made something you had to describe the design so that other people could copy your idea.

At the end of the afternoon each team explained what they had done, what they had made and how useful the ideas were.

There were quite a lot interesting ideas. It had been hard work but it was fun..

Join it! Soldering with Bob Draper May 10th

Rohan explained how to make a moisture detector by soldering an electrical circuit.

Down in the courtyard another group was learning how to prepare copper tubing for soldering. Soon they would use a blow torch to join the copper tubes.

It was a proud moment when the tubing was soldered together.

The moisture detector was more complicated. Duncan explained how it all fitted together.

But the most fun thing was using the blow torch to make the shining copper tubing.

At the end of the afternoon everyone made a presentation to explain what they had done and what they had learned.

Bright Sparks in the Wind with Jess Haywood April 12th

Jess started the workshop by explaining how electricity can be made from wind turbines.

One of the activities involved using various component parts to make a scale model of a wind turbine. Steph. explained the workings of the model.

Edouard and Lucy checked that the turbine was charging correctly.

You have to make sure that the turbine is aligned correctly.

Tanya explained how to make a wind turbine using paper cups

The turbine had to be tested.

Then all the results had to be written up.

The last activity was making a hovercraft.

To make the hovercraft we had to use a glue gun to stick the various parts together.

A bottle top, a balloon and a CD make a very effective hovercraft, using the 'wind' from an inflated balloon.

The CD hovercraft is really effective and travels quite fast across a smooth surface, although on the BRLSI carpet it was not very good on account of the friction.

After we had completed all the activities and made our models we had to explain how they worked and which activity we enjoyed most. Here the cup turbine was the preferred activity.

This was the presentation which explained how the hovercraft worked. Everyone agreed that this was a really fun activity and took their hovercraft home. Jess had organised a fantastic workshop. We now know a lot more about how wind power can be used.

Cooking Up Cool Science, with Ed Snow. April 12th


Ed, Queenie and Marie chatting about the organisation of the workshop.

Ed encouraged everyone to consider which flavours they preferred.

Lisa made sure that everyone examined the specimens very carefully.

Ed wanted everyone to examine different types of jelly.

All the observations had to be recorded.

Ed served everyone with ice cream made by using Liquid Nitrogen.

And ice cream was the star of the workshop and the centre of attention for the presentation.



Paulton Girl Guides. April 3rd. Encounters with Physics

BRLSI was invited to join two dozen or so Girl Guides to share some of the Institute of Physics experiments, like making waves of sound.


or sharing the vibrations.

It wasn't just about sound. There was also an investigation into the characteristics of light. Using Newton's wheel was intriguing.

Finding out about spectra by using a spectroscope was really interesting.

There were also experiments about magnetism and electricity. Finding out about the strength of magnets using iron filings was fun.

Making electricity by shaking a magnet inside a coil of copper wire was amazing and then seeing how..

the copper wire and magnet coupled to a battey makes the shaking torch work.

Making electricity is simple; all you need is copper, a magnet and movement. It doesn't matter whether it is the magnet or the copper wire moving. Here the dynamo moves the copper wire below a magnet. It is amazing what you learn at Guides and every evening is great fun!



Bath Taps into Science

March 21st and March 23rd at University of Bath and Green Park

More than a decade ago BRLSI members Chris Budd, Peter Ford and Bob Draper set up Bath Taps into Science and it has gone from strength to strength. This year it was another resounding success. BRLSI had a stall both at The University and Green Park

Chris Budd and Steve Kimmins set up the telescopes for the BRLSI stand.

Richard Hartley joined Steve to check the magnetism and electricity table.

Vicky and Steve checked the spectroscope experiment.

Vicky explained all about the plasma ball which was very popular.

The telescopes were a great success too.

Working out how vibrations have to be controlled by musical instruments to make music, was fun.

Bob Draper helped to set it all up. Here he is at Green Park

where Tony Symes was in charge of the Plasma Ball and the spectroscope experiment.

The cardboard cup telephone experiment kept people talking about sound waves and vibrations.

Richard used magnets to detect forged coins.

There was lots to do and it was very enlightening, Thanks to all the volunteers who worked so hard on both days to make Bath Taps such a success.


Brainwave March 22nd


It was all about the brain. A group of students from Bath University Pharmacy and Pharmacology Department had arranged a morning workshop.

They brought along a series of 'hands on' activities.

Dr Sarah Bailey led the workshop.

It was really interesting.

Reading the instructions.

Making neurons from pipe cleaners.

Then when the model was finished making notes about how they worked.

Neurons are quite complicated.

The size of brains varies according to the animal. Is this really the size of a dinosaur's brain?

An elephant's brain is really heavy.

Making a model of a human brain using a balloon required a great deal of concentration.

It was fun using the computers.to find out about how the brain identifies colours.

Testing reflexes was really cool.

Everything had to be understood and then written down.

At the end of the workshop Stephen the artist who had created an exhibtion about brains joined Sarah in asking everyone what they most liked about the workshop

It had all been so good that choosing just one activity was very difficult.


Launch of BRLSI Children's Workshops website

March 22nd

Hittesh from Bath University very generously gave up a lot of time to design and build the new website.

Paul Stephens a trustee and chairman of the BRLSI Programme Sub Committee accepted the website on behalf of the institution, thanked Hittesh and launched the site.

Hittesh explained how the website would work and how children will be able to post their own comments on the site.

Hittesh has offered to train all volunteers and families who are interested in using the website.

Getting Close up to Wetness.

at The Roman Baths, with the Institute of Physics. March 15th


It was twilight in the Roman Baths and we crept in to do a little bit of wet physics.

Miranda from The Institute of Physics came along to help us.

Caroline and Joan from BRLSI came in early to set the experiments up and check that they worked. They both agreed you could actually see water molecules move.

Joan helped people to see the little 'beasts' that live in pond water.

Dom supervised the challenge to make a ball of plasticine float in water!

Another challenge was to turn a full glass of water upside down without spilling any. All you need is a postcard! Edouard then explained that the trick was just a law of physics.

Watching a coin appear from nowhere in a tray of water was extremely intriguing.

And did you know that you can make a magnifying glass out of water?  Dom knows.

And it was quite extraordinary that you could pour water into a funnel over an empty bottle and the water would not go down! That's physics too.

Miranda encouraged everyone to think about what water is. She also helped all the visitors to examine very closely the world famous waters of the 'hot springs' at Bath. And when she wasn't doing that...

... she explained how you can use a glass of water to bend a pencil.

It was a busy evening. Some of us got very wet. Then at 8 o'clock we had to rush away because hordes of Brownies were going to have a 'sleep over'.


Hope they didn't see the ghost of Bladud rising from the steaming waters of the bath.

BRLSI/Royal Society of Chemistry

6th form lecture March 12th

Dr. Beth Anderson (RSC) and Dr David Haywood (BRLSI) jointly hosted the event.

About 100 students from local 6th forms attended the event.

Beth welcomed one of  the speakers.

And while the participants waited...

Dr Anderson chatted to some of them.

It was an interesting afternoon and got everyone talking. David Haywood was really pleased with the success of the afternoon


'mysciencefair' at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon. 9th March

Three physics students and three BRLSI volunteers took a stall of experiments to 'myscience fair'.

There was a long queue to get in. Over 250 people attended.

There were lots and lots of experiments to look at. They had all been devised by children who were competing to find out who was the young experimenter of the year..

While the children waited for the judges to make up their minds, they visited the BRLSI stall and other activities. Because it was held in a music centre BRLSI took some of its experiments about sound and music. This is a kalimba.

Steffan explained all about vibrations and amplifying the very quiet sound of a tuning fork by using a sound box.

It was a family event, so some dads helped too.

Ryan and Edouard also explained about electrons

Watching the flight paths of electrons across the plasma ball was cool, although if you kept your hand on the ball for too long it got quite hot.

It was a really interesting day.

We enjoyed ourselves. We really liked all of the experiments. The stall was fun too. Lots of people were interested and said that the workshops at 16 Queen Square sounded very interesting and they might come along. We said we hoped that they would and maybe share their experiments with us.


More Bright Sparks 8th March

Emma from the University of Bath Physics Department led the Bright Sparks Workshop. She was joined by  colleagues, students from Norland College and BRLSI volunteers. Some of the volunteers arrived two hours before the workshop was due to start to set up the experiments. Here Emma tests the plasma ball which was very popular.

Valentin was responsible for all the static electricty experiments

Everyone joined a team and visited the various experiments. Here Jan helps his team at the wiring table.

Emma went round helping and encouraging.

It is amazing how much static electricity you can generate!

Stephanie explained how important magnets are in the production of electricity. She used see-through boxes of iron filings to show the magnetic force fields.

Vicky used a floating compass to explain that the earth is a gigantic magnet.

Pip explained that magnets have a north and south pole too!

Ryan supervised the dropping of magnets down various tubes. It was interesting to see that a magnet dropped  down a copper tube takes a very long time. This observation is fundamental to understanding how electricity is generated. Lenz's law no less.

Edouard encouraged everyone to understand the link between dropping a magnet down a copper tube and the way a dynamo generates electricity.

Anshu helped to solve the challenge of lighting a bulb by using a pencil, a pair of scissors and a battery. It really did work! Now that is circuitry. Then she used the plasma ball to demonstrater how electrons can travel through our bodies and out the other side.

One of the  very interesting moments was when Duncan helped everyone  to construct more traditional electrical circuits using wires, batteries and bulbs.

Then it was back to the team tables. Amy encouraged her team to prepare for the presentation.

Lucy's team decided to use the overhead projector for their presentation

Carole helped with the ideas needed to explain how the plasma ball worked.

Will's team came up with some interesting facts. It really was an electric afternoon, full of Bright Sparks!


Galaxy Zoo 8th March

Charles of the Herschel Society who was leading the workshop had hoped to use the giant Faulkes telescope in S E Australia to find galaxies. Sadly it was cloudy!

It did not put off BRLSI young astronomers. Charles had saved images from previous days' observations. So it was possible to identify and classify as planned.

Needless to say the children's activities team worked hard applying the skills Charles had taught.

Working in teams, they began to prepare presentations, which they planned to deliver to all the members of  BRLSI Children's Workshops. Their aim was to explain and describe what they had seen and learned.

It wasn't easy cramming two hours of learning and observation into a three minute presentation.

But they did it and it was great fun. Fantastic!

So, despite the fact that the computer announced that the telescope was out of action, Charles and the BRLSI team triumphed over the bad weather in Australia. Outside in Queen Square the Spring  sun was shining and inside number 16 there were lots of smiling faces.


Bright Sparks 19th to 22nd February


A series of workshops in local libraries organised in conjunction with the Institute of Physics and the University of Bath Physics Department.

It all began just after Christmas in the physics lab where Jenny and Ashley work. They let us borrow their lab to prepare some of the 'Bright Sparks' experiments.

Alex, who is a member of the Institute of Physics and a lecturer in the Physics Department,, made all the perspex boxes which contain the iron filings.

Some of the students also helped to make the experiments. Here Edouard and Ryan make an experiment to show how an electro magnet works..

After the experiments had been made it was time to write out the instructions and answers.When everything was ready, all the experiments were packed into  cases and transported to each of the libraries at which the 'Bright Sparks' workshops were booked to visit.

Keynsham was the first location. The 'shaking magnets',experiment demonstrated how electricity is made. It was a really fun morning.

Using the dynamo to make electricity. This time the magnet is external to the copper coil.

Using the plasma ball to conduct electricity to light a bulb!

At Midsomer Nortion using the hand dynamo to light up a small bulb.

At Midsomer Norton one of the three teams worked hard to examine the workings of the plasma ball and made notes.

There was also a chance to find out about static electricity and charge a plastic spoon. Using the spoon it was possible to separate pepper from salt!

And of course the results had to be recorded. Then the workshop moved on into Somerset.

Thursday morning February 20th. The meeting room at Frome library where the experiments were laid out waiting for the workshop to begin.

Using the shaking torch was fun. By making a magnet move through a copper wire the torch was charged with electricity.

The plasma ball demonstrated how electricity is conducted.

So our investigations took us from dropping magnets and shaking them

to using a dynamo where a spinning copper coil below a magnet created an electric current.

It was intriguing and notes had to be written.

The see through hand held dynamo was really fascinating too. It was possible to see how the cogs moved the magnetic mechanism to make enough electricity to light a bulb;

so everybody had to get down to writing up their observations.

On Friday February 21st we went to Saltford. The library is very small. So it was quite a squeeze to fit everything and everybody in. Somehow we had 14 children and also some parents, as well as Steffan from the university and Caroline and  Paul from BRLSI.

Finding out about magnetic fields by using Alex's perspex boxes, full of iron filings, was cool. The shapes that the magnets created were really interesting

The iron filings formed into 3D formations because a force field completely surrounds each magnet.

It was fun finding out about static electricity and charging a ball point pen with a weak current so that you could make a tissue paper snake dance!

It was Saturday morning at Shepton and there were no lectures at the University of Bath so Ryan, Edouard and Valentin from the Physics Department came to share their knowledge.

Emma drove them down. Pip led the workshop.

Everyone collected their clipboards and got ready to make observations

The attractive royal family was fun and interesting. All the observations had to be recorded!

We dropped magnets and Emma encouraged us to find out about electrons and resistance.

We discovered how many uses magnets have and ...

that magnets come in an infinite variety of strengths.

Then we puzzled over how magnets in dynamos make electricity.

Finally we used wires and a battery to make a current give energy to a light bulb.

At Wells Emma took charge of the workshop and Jack from The University of Bath joined us all.

He explained that the earth is an enormous magnet and

that magnets have a noth pole and a south pole too!


Finally we prepared to give a short presentation to explain to everyone else what we had learned from our favourite experiment. It had been serious fun and we were very grateful to the Institute of Physics, The University of Bath and the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution for organising and paying for the workshops. 


February 18th

Wicked Weapons

from the BRLSI Collection with Brian Godwin

Matt Williams, the BRLSI Curator and Brian Godwin, the BRLSI weapons expert selected some amazing items from the collection.

Brian started by showing us some of the items of armour.

There was a helmet which aimed at being very frightening and a shield which was also a weapon!

We made notes to help us remember what we were finding out.

The chain mail, which is being restored, was made in the 18th century and came from Persia (modern day Iran).

There was an axe in the shape of an antelope.

We read the writing on a French cavalry sword. It was made in 1810 and could have been used at the battle of  Waterloo.

Brian explained the difference between various types of sword.

We talked about the weapons in our teams.

After finding out about swords, we learned about various guns, match locks, flint locks, revolvers and a small pocket gun which was also a knife. This curious weapon was carried around the dark streets of Bath at night for protection.

Some of the weapons were amazing and horrible at the same time. It was a very interesting morning. There was a lot to think about. Brian was really helpful.

February 8th Crazy Chemistry with Dr. Dave

Doctor Dave had devised 5 experiments and was on hand to supervise the proceedings and help explain, with the help of 15 volunteers.

It was a really fun afternoon for everybody, children and volunteers

Putting on lab coats and rubber gloves was more difficult than it sounds!

And making models of some of the molecules we were investigating required quite a bit of effort

It was really fascinating working out which combination of atoms made up the diffierent molecules

Like everyone, Steph who is an engineer, never ceases to be amazed at all the combinations. This is real science, but is it particle physics or is it chemistry? Does it matter? Not really, because it is so interesting.

I don't think this is quite right, but it is pretty.

Getting it right was really satisfying too!

One of the problems was that BRLSI is carpeted and some of the experiments were a little bit messy, so Vicky and Dr Dave had to put protective covers over part of the floor. However, everyone was really, really careful and there were no problems with marking the floor. There was a huge sigh of relief at the end of the afternoon!

Top of the list for fun was transforming liquid PVA into putty. The warmer you made it, the more it bounced!

Making it wasn't easy, you had to measure all the ingredients very carefully.

There was a great feeling of achievement when you got it right.

You could make all sorts of shapes and colours

Investigating its properties was really intriguing and interesting.

Dom was in charge of the acid experiement using the red cabbage indicator

There were instructions.

We needed a lot of 'stuff'' for this experiment

and even more concentration and care

Vicky showed us how to transform milk

Making circles of colours was engrossing

and quite amazing.

Coloured marker pen chromatography was really unbelievable

Watching the colours appear was riveting. Cool!

Then, at the end of the workshop we explained to everybody else what our favourite experiment was

and how we did it.

We had to work hard, but it was great fun. Thank you Dr Dave!

January 11th An Afternoon with Professor Julian Vincent

The Science of Biomimetics

Julian who is a world expert explained about fibres. Here he is showing how and why paper curls when it  has been dipped in water.

We began by examining sycamore seeds and finding out how well they fly and why.

Dom helped with the experiment which helped us understand why pine cones open and close.

One of the most interesting experiments was finding out about the structure  of celery.

Paper is really interesting. It is all about the arrangement of the fibres. created when paper is made.

That is why, depending on which way you hold it, it bends in a particular way after you have dipped it in water.

Julian explained that if you glue two pieces together in a special way you can make the paper curl in a specific direction.

It was really great fun. We cut up lots of paper, dipped pine cones in water to watch them close up as well as dissecting the celery.

Then we had to plan the presentation to explain what we had learned.

We prepared posters to explain some of things that Julian had explained, including 'smart' materials which have been devised at Bath University, based on discoveries made in his department.

And then we did the presentation. Professor Vincent said that some of our ideas were as good as those some of his students had come up with.

It was all very intriguing.

It was a really enjoyable afternoon

January 11th Making Molecules with the Royal Society of Chemistry

We worked in teams and shared our successes!

We had diagrams to help us make the models of the molecules. It was quite a task!

There was a little help available but most people were learning!

It was definitely a group effort.

It required skill and concentration

Dr Dave was there to explain the complexities

And there was a lot of assistance

Matching up the atoms against the structure of each molecule was fascinating and satisfying

It was really great when you completed a model

Then you moved on to making a different model

There was so much to do.

It was a fun and interesting afternoon. It was really good of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Dr Beth to supply the molecule model making kit which helped make it all happen.

Mysciencefair was also at BRLSI

Anastasia was there to help parents and children devise and fine tune the experiments they hope to display at the Bradford on Avon Music Centre on Sunday March 9th.

Mysciencefair is hoping that children of all ages will enter the competition to find the best young experimenter of the year!

December 14th Comet Ison

Although Comet Ison disappeared from view behind the Sun about a fortnight before the workshop and distintegrated on account of gravitational forces, BRLSI was not deterred!

An image of the BRLSI meteorite rotated and hovered on the wall, over the workshop, all afternoon. It is the same age as the comet and is one of the oldest objects in the solar system. Older than the earth itself. It was donated to BRLSI in the 19th Century by one of the Hoares from Stourhead. Matt Williams BRLSI curator had made a special film about it.

One of the activities was to simulate a comet's tail. Emma, Jan and Pip from the University of Bath's Physics Department under the direction of Steve Kimmins made up the 'potion'.

Comet tails are often millions of miles long. Our's wasn't that big but sometimes during the afternoon it was pretty impressive.

Grabbing hold of a comet's tail is cold, very cold.

In the absence of a solar wind in the Elwin Room some of us had to help the tail grow by blowing on it.

A comet's tail is a mixture of ice,gases,bits of tiny rock and other messy things. It is certainly cold.

Dom helped us find out the difference between a comet, asteroid, meteoroid, meteor and meterorite. We also found out more about the BRLSI meteorite which fell onto Siberia in the middle of the 18th century.

When the workshop started it was cloudy in S.E. Australia. This was a great worry. We had booked an hour on a big telescope there, so that we could see into the night sky by using a computer.  Fortunately just before 2pm the sky cleared and we could see things like the crab nebula.

Charles used a digital projector so we could see the pictures on a big screen. He also showed us how we were giving the computer instructions to move so that we could see the part of the sky we had chosen.

We would like to show you a picture of what we saw but at present there is a copyright problem. Everyone hopes Charles can negotiate a solution.

It's amazing that we are able to see into the southern hemisphere night sky and to move the Faulkes telescope. We tried to work out all about the different positions of the sun and the stars during the year.

Many years ago before computers and telescopes people used an astrolabe to measure the angles and altitudes of the celestial bodies. John Mudford who makes astrolabes explained what an astrolabe is and helped us to use one.

We were able to use a replica of a medieval astrolabe which is similar to the first astrolabe that arrived in England in the early 12th century. The first place in England that an astrolabe was used was in Bath because England's first scientist, Adelard, lived in Bath and he brought it all the way back from somewhere in Iran or Iraq.

After seeing stars Jayne helped us make our own using Maths!

Using geometry, angles and origami we made lots of interersting shapes and structures.

You have to fold accurately

Sometimes we had to do calculations

other times it was fun. Some of us listened to the shapes whispering - 45 degrees, 90 degrees...

Then it was time to prepare for the team presentation

It wasn't easy describing all the things we had seen and done.

but we all did it.

It finished with the comet's tail spreading out all over the table. It was a really fun afternoon.

Under the four seasons and the meteorite, we found out about the universe and how unreliable comets can be!

November 9th The Royal Society of Chemistry Global Experiment

This was serious stuff.

Dr Beth and Dr Dave of the RSC were both there to help everyone find out how much vitamin c is to be found in various types of fruit and veg. Ed and Sarah of The University of Bath Spa also helped out.

It was a really serious exercise so the more helpers the better!

Ros also from the University of Bath Spa helped out too.

Sometimes it was very intriguing,

sometimes it was serious in a fun sort of way.

Everyone had to be very careful when preparing for each experiment,

and working it out required quite a lot of concentration.

Ed was a great help and there was a lot to learn.

Mashing the food up was quite hard work. Some people liked that bit of the experiment others didn't.

Then came the difficult bit, measuring out accurate quantities.

What was needed was great concentration and a steady hand.

and 'eureka!', a successful, serious fun afternoon.

November 9th Helping the Birds to Prepare for Winter

with Dr Roger Moses of The Hawk and Owl Trust

Roger brought some bird nesting box kits and told us all about bird nests especially local sites.

Then everyone started to assemble the nesting boxes

It wasn't straightforward. Amy a student from Norland College helped out

as did Stephanie from the University of Bath Engineering Department.

There were different tools to use, but best of all were the electric screwdrivers.

Some needed a bit of help because they were quite heavy.

The workshop was not just about making the nesting boxes. There were activities about various aspects of bird life.


Amy from Norland College explained that these nesting boxes were designed to be used by very small birds like blue tits.

Once the boxes had been assembled, they had to be varnished.

This had to be done with great care to avoid getting the varnish on clothes, the furniture and the floor.

It required a great deal of concentration and hardwork.

Drying the varnish was not very interesting but it had to be done because the nesting boxes were to be installed in Victoria Park that afternoon.

Some people volunteered to carry the boxes up to the park and one dad carried the step ladder.

Once in the park a tree was chosen.

Several people helped to install the box.

Everyone went back to BRLSI to write up notes and share their experiences.

It was a really good afternoon and great fun.

During the Autumn half term there were seven physics workshops in local libraries in B&NES and Somerset. They were

organised in conjunction with the Institute of Physics and the Physics Department of The University of Bath.

7 students and 6 BRLSI volunteers ran the workshops in Frome, Bath, Shepton Mallet, Wells, Radstock and Paulton

In Wells library

Edouard, Anshu, Pip, Jan, Emma, Tom, photo by Valentin. The students from the Physics Department who ran the workshops

The tuning fork experiment at Shepton Mallet

Checking the results for the sound waves in water experiment. Pip looks on.

Different instruments produce different sound waves and different sound waves produce different notes.

Everyone listens to the vibrations. That's what sound is about and Jan helped to explain.

David explained how the oscilloscope worked at The Central Library Bath

In Frome parents enjoyed some of the experiments too

and checked some of the resources that BRLSI and the Institute of Physics produce.

Even The Press took an interest!

Emma supervised another experiment and shared in the excitment.

The Kalimba is no ordinary instrument and it certainly make a much more magical sound than a stainless steel fork.

At Paulton Marianne helped to discover what note a particular tuning fork sounded.

Team work and concentration were essential

All the observations were recorded

The experiments were great fun,

especially feeling Caroline's voice.

At Radstock everyone got down to exploring even the simplest noises. The everyday is scientifically marvellous!

It was all very satisfactory and the students made it very worthwhile.

Cooking up Cool Science October 12th

Ed and his friends from the University of Bath Spa had planned and prepared the workshop

Ed looked a bit dangerous and an old BRLSI Member who used to be the Mayor of Bath looked over his shoulder just to make sure all was in order!

Everyone looked on. They were not sure what to expect.

Mixing the potions (accuracy was very important) was very interesting.

Using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream is a really quick method of doing it.

Was it interesting, exciting or just bonkers?

No it was quite interesting and it looked fun

Success! Ice cream

The customers couldn't wait

Some had come prepared. It wasn't a bad way to learn a little bit about the Science of Food!


How to be a scientist October 12th

The workshop was about learning about 'How to be a Scientist' So everyone had to do experiments about sound. Learning about how we hear was important.

Everybody was asked to bring something to the workshop that made a noise but NOT a musical instrument. Balloons make all sorts of noises if you help them.

Using a long tube of cardboard helps you to test the vibrations sound waves create . Then you have to record the findings on an observation sheet.

It was fun listening to a friend's voice vibrating down a piece of string 12 metres away.

Claire brought her model of an ear into the workshop. The ear captures all the vibrations and that is why we hear all that noise!

It was a very busy afternoon

Whenever you do an experiment and find something out everyone (with no exceptions) has to record all they have done and seen. Some need a little bit of help!

'mysciencefair' was at the workshop to enourage children to enter their experiments for the competititon on March 9th at the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon. It is open to all children, not just those who attended th BRLSI workshops.

Making the tuning fork sing is easy when you use a resonating box.

Using the oscilloscope was another fun way of finding out about sound waves.

When everyone had completed 3 or 4 experiments each team explained to the rest of the workshop what they had learned.

It is really satisfying to describe what you have been doing and a really great way to finish an exciting afternoon.

Intriguing Science Saturday September 14th 1pm - 4pm

Part of Heritage Open Doors Day

A really busy day. Hundreds came to have fun

Science is fun!

The plasma ball was most popular

The Mayor and Mayoress were intrigued

Then the Mayor had a go.

There was a lot to do, like using a microscope to find out how bank note designers work hard to prevent forgery.

Do we really have to do that to isolate our DNA?

Spit into a test tube!

The Archimedes puzzle was amazing.

But working out how the balancing box worked was easy, if you thought about it carefully.

Making the astrolabe needed careful instruction.

And working out the results needed a bit of team effort.

Adelard was there with his abacus. It is really easy and very quick to make calculations once you know how to use it.

Liz who organised the day explained all about the Science Workshops. The Mayor and Mayoress were impressed with all the different activities.

'Mysciencefair' were there too. They brought projects and encouraged everyone to sign up for the young science experimenter competition which will be judged at Wilts Music Centre on March 9th 2014

Joan looked after the weird objects table. No one guessed all ten correctly.

Watching the robot move about on its own, playing a tune, was fun too.

But building the tower, now that was a challenge.

It was a very satisfying afternoon and  every who came along  had great fun worked very hard.

Saturday July 27th 2pm to 4:30pm

Tree gazing with Mark Cassidy in Victoria Park and the Botanical Gardens

First everybody had to learn how to use the trail.

Finding the tree was the easy bit, we thought.

In fact not all the trees were that easy to get at, but Mark was very good at explaining.

Even so it could be a little bit confusing.

Mum explained about the bark of the plane tree

Mark explained it is the giant of the park. It is the tallest.

Really interesting when you get up close.

There it is on the map.

Getting up close is what tree gazing is all about.

Jude looked even more closely

Some of the stories about trees are really interesting

While some looked up, there was a lot to see very close to the ground

This silver maple has got a fungus growing at its base.

Then Simon found a tiny frog.

Everybody wanted to see it.

We saw the fern-leaved beech. It was a magical place.

Then it came on to rain.

And the tree trails became even more useful.

Tree gazing is amazing!

Pick up a trail from BRLSI 10am to 4pm any day except Sunday. They are free.

Saturday July 13th 1pm to 4pm


Join it!  A workshop to find out about soldering.

Paul and Bob oversaw the soldering of copper pipes. It was such a hot day they decided to work in the BRLSI courtyard, but in the shade!

The first stage was to cut the pipe to length.

Once the pipe was cut, both ends of the pipe had to be smoothed down until they were neat enough to accept the solder.

Every stage of the process had to be checked

Using the blow torch was the most challenging part of the workshop.

Meanwhile up in the Lonsdale Room the skill of soldering circuit boards was being explained.

Usiing a soldering iron needs care, concentration and a delicate touch.

The instructions were detailed and had to be followed carefully. Duncan also gave some insight into the  physics underlying the processes.

It was great when it all went right. At the end of the afternoon everybody went home with a copper pipe that had a good soldered joint and a small working circuit they had soldered themselves. It was worth all the 'very hot' work.

Engineering the future


Richard, the workshop leader, adjusts the protoype.

The aim was to build a model wind turbine capable of producing electricity

Building the supporting structure

Checking the magnets needed to produce electricity

All hands to complete the creation of the generator

Richard oversees the final touches

Team work was essential, as was observing and learning from other people's efforts

There was so much to do. Each team member had responsibilties. It was not straight forward.

Working on the project was all engrossing, challenging and fiddly!

Summer Science
June 8th 'The sound of silence and the staring at  the invisible.'

It all began with silence and listening very carefully.

and finding out about invisible forces such as magenetism

or seeing the tiny, tiny foundation for life. Is this really my DNA?

There it is, that's my DNA, it's so tiny!

There was so much to observe, record and explain.

Dawn Hodgson of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society was also on hand to show off animal  teeth from recent excavations.There was a chance to develop skills in the identification of the specimens.and to find out what the animals ate.

It fits!

All the observations were checked, talked about and written down.

So that's what the 'little beasties' of pond water look like.

Amazing! Dad helps to produce the invisible, mystery writing.

Making a wave.

Using the periscope.

Preparing for the presentation

The presentation, explaining how to isolate DNA from a skin cell.

It was a really fun day.

‘Converting Light into Pictures' May 25th at The Central Library.


Preparing for the workshop,

Admiring the magic ball of flashing coloured lights

Writing up the observation of the experiment about making a rainbow

Checking the observations about the Camera Obscura

Making a pin hole camera.

Amazing mirror images.

This was the second workshop at the Central Library and it was a great success. One person attending gave it 100000000000000000 out of ten! Could it really have been that much fun?

‘Converting Light into Pictures' May 23rd at The Central Library.

It was all about using light to create pictures of all sorts.

Around the walls of Bath's Central Library there were pictures of Rev. Lockey's photographs taken in the 1850's. In the gallery there were tables full of experiments and equipment which made use of light. There was a kaleidoscope.

We used light senstive 'sun print' paper to compose and then develop our own pictures

Using mirrors it was even possible to multiply money.

We used an overhead projector to draw pictures on the white library wall without leaving a mark ....

... and interrupted light to make shadow pictures

The periscope helped us to see round corners or over objects.

We had to find out how it all worked, even the bouncing ball that made coloured patterns of light and then we made notes of our observations.

At the end we told everyone what we had learned and what we had enjoyed.

It was fun!

The flowers that bloom in the Spring. "Beautiful, colourful, happy"

Saturday May 11th. 1pm

The day began with a burst of sunshine

We set out through busy traffic.

to the Botanical Gardens

Dr Liz Vincent showed us round, pointing out all the interesting features of the flowers that bloom in Spring.

Lots of significant details...

...and some distractions.,,

even the squirrel seemed to appreciate the flowers.

but the most important thing was to look very carefully at particular flowers.

and then record the observations. 

Sometimes the observations were quite adventurous!

and some of us found more than flowers.

There were so many flowers to choose from....

so much to admire.

Back at BRLSI Liz helped everyone to prepare for their presentation.

Everyone shared their knowledge and experience

It was a very successful afternoon.

Explore, Share & Develop Science Technology Engineering Maths (STEM) Activities Thursday 9th May, 15.00-17.00

Katy Glazer who co-ordinates the STEM programme for Bath and Bristol joined forces with the BRLSI Children's Workshop team to provide a training session based on 30 of the 130 science experiments which have been developed since September 2012 (when the BRLSI 'serious' fun workshops began)

Over 30 STEM Ambassadors and BRLSI Volunteers from a variety of backgrounds came to the session. All of them set about using the experiments and followed a formalised criticical pro-forma which aimed to improve the BRLSI experiments.

Each ambassador worked their way through four or five of the experiments on show. Here the pin hole camera is being scrutinised.

Taking care to prepare for the air pressure experiment using a table tennis ball and a funnel.

It was also a chance to network with other ambassadors as well as undertaking the criticism of the experiments, The plasma ball, Newton's wheel and a spectroscope experiment were located in a darkened corner of the Elwin room.

It was serious but invaluable work, which will result in the experiments on show being improved. It also gave ambassadors a chance to sample a variety of experiments many had not seen before and gave inspirational ideas for all of them.

Each year STEM ambassadors voluntarily give up hours of their time to visit schools to enthuse pupils with science in all its various facets. At the end of the afternoon 17 of the participants responded to a formal evaluation and said that the afternoon met their expectations and asked for a future similar session later in the year.

Royal Institute of Philosophy (R.I.P.) 6th form seminars certificate

presentation and last session May 1st

Students from 5 different schools met as part of the Jacobsen Fellowship Teaching programme. Chris Gifford of Bristol University led the  6 sessions, which gave all the participants a slightly different slant on the subject. At the last session Don Cameron chair of the BRLSI Philosophy Group presented 11 certificates and Betty Suchar chair of the BRLSI management committee presented representatives of the schools attending with books provided by the RIP as a permanent reminder of the project and a useful addition to the various school libraries.

The 6th form Philosophy Seminars held in the Lonsdale Room were the location

for the certifcate presentations. Henry was the first to recieve a certificate.

Dr Don Cameron presents Verity with the Royal Institute of Philosophy certificate


Betty Suchar present the books donated by The Royal Institute for Philosophy

Chris Gifford who led the seminars poses a question.

Who said philosophy was not fun ...

seriously cool....

and very interesting if not intriguing.

Come on it's quite straight forward.

Now is that a tenable proposition?

Exactly my point of view too.

April 13th Finding Bath's Champion Trees in The Botanical Gardens

We beat the rain and found The Champions. Two of the trees, a Mediterranean Box and a Torreya nucifera, which we measured have been confirmed by The Tree Register as NEW champion trees. 

Bath's Botanical Gardens were established at the suggestion of BRLSI Member Alderman Murch in the mid 19th century and another BRLSI member Edward Broome donated his collection of plants to start the gardens off.  So it was quite in order for the BRLSI Children's Workshop to visit the gardens to identify champion trees  and collect data to send the national Tree Register. The results of the workshop will be used in the creation of another BRLSI family trail 'Finding Bath's Champion Trees' to be published in July.

Before the brave souls who reported to BRLSI on a day of rain  and wind set out on the half hour walk to 'Wembley; the education centre in the gardens,  the measuring equipment had to be made and tested.

Making a clinometer

Checking that it all works correctly

Explaining how it works

Practising how to use it

The park was empty because of the foul weather

Everyone was very glad to arrive at Wembley, the Botanical Gardens Education Centre, where Mark Cassidy (B&NES tree officer) explained the methods for identifying the trees and how to record the measurements. It was raining very hard!

Mark also explained the history of the Gardens.

Checking the location of that special Champion with Mark.

Oh yes. There it is, dripping wet!

Checking measurements in The Dell. It was very wet.

The Giant Redwood.

The rain didn't stop but the recording had to be done

Now was the time to use the clinometer and ignore the rain.

Checking the measurements

Recording all the details

To measure the distance the tape has to be tight.

Triple checking.

That really tall tree in The Dell is definitely a champion.

Thank goodness! That's it. Time to head back to Wembley.

Trying to dry out!

We found several trees that are already registered. There will be several more now, after all our efforts in the rain.

We returned to BRLSI and planned the Champion Trees Trail which we all hope will be published in time for the school summer holidays. If all goes well lots of people will be able to have fun discovering Bath's Champion Trees. They won't know that we tramped round in the pouring rain to get the information!

Enquire at BRLSI reception, 16 Queen Square, for one of the family trails already available.


Don't forget to sign up for 'The Flowers that Bloom in May' with Dr Liz Vincent. May 11th 1pm to 4pm

Go to coolbookings@brlsi.org


A night of watery mysteries at The Roman Baths March 16th

B&NES Heritage Department invited BRLSI to provide 'watery' and Roman related experiments at their science extravaganza on Saturday evening March 16th. BRLSI member Tracey Madden volunteered to do some Physics Busking and Christine Pert and Paul Thomas supervised a series of 'watery' experiments in the education room with excellent help from Harry, a third years physics undergraduate at the University of Bath.

Tracey was in a prime position below the Temple Pediment and captivated visitors with a variety of 'tricks' including the mysteries of a sundial.

Meanwhile Harry (below) kept all the visitors enthralled with his simple but extremely informative explanations

Here Harry explains how light bends in water by using the reappearing coin trick.

Some of the young visitors were so thrilled they explained what they had discovered to their friends and family. "This is what I am going to do."

Is it really going to happen?

"You see. It did work."

It was a really useful evening and BRLSI members were able to publicise the work of the BRLSI and encourage families to come along to the 2nd Saturday afternoon 'serious fun science workshops'.

Marksbury Primary School. Everyone works hard at BRLSI Science. March 11th 2013

BRLSI was invited by the school head to provide four workshops for all the pupils at the school. It was part of the Marksbury School's science fortnight. Some of the pupils had staffed a stall at Bath University Bath Taps into Science on the previous Friday. Marksbury is serious about science. BRLSI took details of Adelard and the just launched Adelard Trail. All the experiments were related to the interests and experiences of Adelard in one way or the other. The nature and substance of water was the predominant theme.

Demonstrating how and why drops of water are cohesive.

One team was fascinated by the periscope

Using mirrors they explained, to everyone else, how the equipment works

Some of the experiments were problematic but the pupils worked hard to solve them

All the results had to be recorded and then used for the teams' presentations

Some of the presentations were unusual but very effective. This demonstrated why and how light bends when it enters water. 

Preparing for the presentation was treated seriously and with great care.

In all over 90 children from ages 4 to 11 took part in the workshops. From the results of their presentations and the smiles of satisfaction the day seemed to have been very successful.

Marksbury is a remarkable little school with a great thirst for knowledge!

Awesome Science, Adelard, The Mayor and a Feast on March 9th at BRLSI

Star of the show - The Food!

Jude Harris who devised the Adelard Trail and helped with the preparation of the feast invites Adelard to help himself to a plate, Norman style!

Anna Gann who oversaw the feast preparations really enjoyed researching the Norman menu with Jude

Anna explained the way in which the feast had been planned to reflect the kind of food Adelard would have eaten. The Mayor and Mayoress have supported the BRLSI Children's Science Workshops since they began in September 2012 and kindly gave the Adelard Trail an unusual, but fun, Civic Launch to this BRLSI initiative.

It was Adelard's third visit to BRLSI Science Workshops. He brought the abacus back to 12th century Bath when he returned to the city from his foreign travels.So it was really interesting to be in one of the four groups that the famous mathematician coached during the afternnoon which explored the use of abacus.

Another instrument that Adelard brought back to Bath was the Astrolabe. He had his own astrolabe with him. Children were encouraged to make their own and then find out how to use it.

Children had to use their astrolabe to measure the height of St Michael's Church

Adelard also brought back to Bath Euclid's geometry. So Amy used a modern day computer directed robot to explain the triangle.

Adelard was also very interested in Bath's 'sacred spring' and he was well aware of the importance of water, having visited the dry lands of the Middle East; so there were experiments about water during the afternoon. Here the wonder of capillary action is explained.

All the discoveries have to be recorded and then explained.

Each team made a presentation of their findings to everyone else

When the Mayor and Mayoress arrived  Betty Suchar Chair of the BRLSI Management Committee welcomed them and thanked them for awarding BRLSI a Civic Launch of the Adelard Trail.

The Mayor congratulated and encouraged everyone. He came to the first science workshop in September 2012 and has supported the initiative ever since.

The Mayoress was very interested in the abacus and remembered a time when she learned how to use it at school. She hadn't forgotten. Adelard was very impressed.

Jude who devised and designed The Adelard Trail explained that because there is very little of Norman Bath which remains, all those following the trail had to use their imagination. Adelard announced that he would be leading the very first Adelard Trail himself. Finally the Mayor launched the trail and wished all those taking part a very enjoyable afternoon.

Adelard explained that the Abbey Precinct was very important to Adelard. Although he was not a monk he was a clerical scholar and lived, researched, wrote and taught in rooms very close to the Norman Abbey, which was one of the biggest churches in Europe.

We're probably standing on the site of the Bishop's Palace.

The walk ends at the Medieval Walls. Two of the first people to complete the Adelard Trail with their guide Adelard (Michael Davis, BRLSI member)

Why don't you Walk with Adelard?  You can pick up a FREE trail (which was very kindly sponsored by Bath's Charter Trustees) from BRLSI reception at 16 Queen Square, between 10am. and 4pm. Monday to Saturday.

Bath Taps into Science Friday March 8th at The Founders Hall University of Bath

BRLSI members Steve Kimmins, Roger Moses, Richard Hartley and Paul Thomas set up a stall as part of Bath Taps into Science and over a period of five and a half hours it is reputed that they enteratined 1,000 school children with simple experiments dealing with aspects of light and magnetism.

Steve adjusts the telescope so that children can see Saturn (high on the sports hall wall)!

Getting your hands on science!

With a little bit of confidence anyone can do it.

Measure the time it takes for a magnet travel down tubes of different materials

You've done the experiment now you have to work out what happened and why!

It really was amazing, hundreds of children enraptured with science!


February 9th Particle Physics children's workshop in the Elwin Room with students from Norland College, University of Bath, University of Bath Spa and BRLSI Volunteers


Checking the structure of a crystal

Preparing a learning aid

Students explaining the structure of crystals using models

I think I understand


Kerrianne who led the workshop explains


The explanation can be fun


and thought provoking

Writing up the results.

In the park to understand the enormity of the subject

What if the obelisk were to be a.....


Moving a can with the static electricity from a balloon

Completing the observation sheet

Spinning straws with static!

The static electricity experiments.

Preparing for the presentation

The team presents

Explaining the findings

Photographing the interesting bits

I learned such a lot. This is the key diagram.

Silent Killers of The NightJanuary 12th 2013

Finding out all about owls and hawks,

Getting ready to dissect owls pellets

Dissecting the pellets


Drawing the feathers


Putting feathers under the microscope


Bones are really amazing!


Observing very carefully and recording the observations of bones


Hearing an explanation


Presenting the findings

The team's group report

We found out a lot about owls

The main food of barn owls is field voles.

It was a really fun day and we learned a lot.

Light with Adelard. December 8th 2012

Adelard helps keen young scientists  make an astrolabe

Kerrianne from  University of Bath assists with the final touches to the Astrolabe

Working on the Optics Bench

Now that's scientific magic! Conducting electricity.

Making electricity by shaking magnets.

Pointing out the electricty on the Plasma Ball

Plasma Ball Fun

Working out the sundial

How far away is the spire of St Michael's? And what on earth are those people doing in Queen Sq?

Completing the electric circle

Getting ready for team work


Portrait of the star of the show The Plasm Ball, by Abigail

Discussing the effectiveness of a pinhole camera

Science Workshop with Paulton Junior School

November 17th

Studying an aspect of wind pressure

Making careful observations

Working as a team

The blowing of a small ball of paper into a bottle experiment. IT CAN'T BE DONE. WHY?

Working out the significance of Newton's Wheel.

Working out static electricity at  the foot of the monster

Recording how the pencil bent and why.


Reporting on why the candle blowing experiment was inaccurate

Fun with weeds - A BRLSI Saturday Afternoon Kids' Workshop

held on October 13th




WONDERFUL WEAPONS with Brian Godwin BRLSI weapons expert



Awesome Science October 31st

A problem with cogs

Success with cogs!


Examining the pooter


Tracking the robot


Tree Fascination



 Pictures of Party in a Tree on Saturday November 10th with Mark Cassidy B&NES Tree Officer.




Learning to measure the height of a tree

Learning to identify the things that live in a tree

Learning to measure the girth of a tree and thus age it

Bark rubbing

 During the afternoon 15 children along with parents and BRLSI volunteers, visited Victoria Park and learned lots of skills and also learned how to record all the information

It was a really sunny afternoon, so collecting the information was even more fun

Teamwork was very important


Back at BRLSI in Queen Square everyone had to analyse and discuss their results


It wasn't always easy and required concentration

The observations and results had  to be checked

And everything recorded.

Including the fact that it was great fun!

always book in advance for workshops

at coolbookings@brlsi.org


Did you know...


Intellect in the Bath area has always been high. On 31st December 1780 Edmund Rack commented, "this institution promises much rational improvement and instruction; and has a much more favourable beginning than the Royal Society in London had 100 years ago - there being only 5 members for more than two years: and those 5 not superior in learning and genius to most of our members". 11 Members went on to become Fellows of the Royal Society!

Curatorial Curiosities