Science with a beer and a board game

Photo 1

Zombies, sci-fi, physics, chemistry, logic, maths. Something for everyone.

“Is this board game thing going to make me feel dumb?” My friend Kayla sent me this text after I had asked whether she and her mother wanted to join me for the ‘State of Play: Science Board Games’ event that was happening down at the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA). What started as an idea for a pleasant afternoon of beers, casual chit chat and aggressive table flipping quickly became about something much bigger: why are people so scared of the word ‘science’? While Kayla tried to assure me that her hesitation was because “I only expect horrible things from and with you,” (#besties), I was determined to dig a little deeper.

We arrived at the CCA, and after inspecting a mysterious pile of board games left at the foot of the steps, our inquisitive minds took us to the terrace bar where the event organisers, Iain and James, greeted us enthusiastically. “State of Play is a group of like-minded board game enthusiasts. We put on board game activities at festivals and events, and not just science festivals, also book festivals and even canal festivals! We’re keen to share our amazing hobby with people who may not know about modern board gaming, and we’re convinced that gaming is a great way to engage people of any age with a topic or field of study.”

Photo 2

You’re only as old as you feel. ‘Robot Turtles’ involves planning several moves ahead to get your turtles from A to B, which is a coding skill.

It looked as though we were the first to arrive and so had our pick of the mountain of games on offer. As we began scanning the titles on the boxes, I could see the fear surfacing on Kayla’s face as the thought of an afternoon spent playing ‘New science: The Giants upon whose Shoulders the World of Science Stands’ made her contemplate the life choices that had led her to agreeing to be my friend.

Iain was keen to help us pick our poison and rattled off a quick pitch of some of his favourites. After a brief screening process based on our logic of “this one’s heavy and so must have a lot of science in it,” Iain told us that we should play ‘Pandemic’, a game all about working together to contain a deadly virus outbreak. We swiftly ignored him, of course, in favour of ‘Robot Turtles’, “because they’re robot turtles, Alex!” And just like that, Kayla was home.

Photo 3

Some *ahem* “fairly” placed obstacles, all in good sportsmanship.

As the guests began setting up the game, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. Just maybe they would stick around long enough for me to get some half decent pictures, enough to trick people into thinking that they were actually having fun. It wasn’t long, however, until my fears vanished completely. This was my first time meeting Kayla’s mum, but the family resemblance was becoming clear. We were less than ten minutes in to the game, and already the two were inventing different ways they could bend the rules to get their turtles out of a tight spot. Twenty minutes in, and voices were raised in what was being dubbed “the cheating scandal of 2016” (remember kids, yellow flower turns your turtle left, purple flower right). Finally, we had hit family board game bliss, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Photo 4

Cheating scandal of 2016 – the aftermath.

I began reflecting on what I had experienced with Kayla and her mum. As I had expected, everybody was having a great time, so why had Kayla been so apprehensive earlier? The point of the Glasgow Science Festival is to bring the public together with scientists, have fun and maybe learn a thing or two along the way. There’s no doubt that the festival has achieved this in spades, but still I’m often shocked by how many people attending these ‘public’ engagement events are actually scientists themselves. Herein lies the problem of ‘how do you engage with those that don’t want to be engaged?’

The turtles had been cleared away, and as Kayla basked in the glory of her victory, I was excited to see a new game being brought out, to the delight of the group. The game was ‘Cluedo’, but with some forensic science tweaking. “The twist we’ve made here is that after every round you get a card with a forensic science fact that also gives an extra instruction to the players,” Iain explained proudly. We also decided to do away with the painfully slow dice rolling and just take it in turns to make our deductions about who was responsible for Mr Black’s untimely fate while our playing pieces conducted their investigations from the comfort of the lounge.

Photo 5

Investigating murders is tiring work, especially when you’re made of plastic.

Before the game was in full swing, I decided to press a little further into what my two companions thought so far. “I just think that the word science can seem a bit overwhelmingly daunting to someone with little to no experience with it,” Kayla admitted. “When you offer a science event or a science game, some people may be put off because they don’t know what type of science they will encounter.”

I asked them what exactly they were expecting when I asked them along to a science board game event. “I guess I thought it was gonna be some kind of science trivia game, with a bunch of scientists sitting around saying like ‘what’s the square root of 7225?’” Kayla laughed. “I’m not gonna lie, I thought that too,” her mother added.

Suddenly I was beginning to understand that it isn’t the presence of ‘science’ that makes these events sound unappealing to some, but the confusion about what the word science even means in the context of the event. Here we were playing with turtles, building towers and catching dinosaurs. You certainly don’t need a PhD to do that.

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Super-rhino! Players take turns building a monstrous tower block of cards, with no regard for planning permission. Like Jenga, but with more lawsuits.

We continued to sit and chat away with James, Iain and his kids as game after game was brought out. Before we knew it, our time was up. We had sat there playing games for the entire duration of the event. What was supposed to be a quick stop in for some pictures had turned in to three hours of fun.

As we gathered our things and gave our thanks to the team, I took the opportunity to ask Kayla whether her opinion of these “science things” I rave about, had changed. “I think this event helped me get over my fear of the word science a bit,” she began. “I feel that I’ve simply been writing off potentially awesome events only because

Photo 7

‘N-tropy’ More wacky construction with architect-in-the-making David, where the dice roll determines how many of the previous sticks the one you place must touch.

they were labelled as science. I definitely will be less concerned about attending events labelled as science in the future.”

Be sure to check out State of Play’s City Builder event on Sunday 19 June 14:00-17:00 at the CCA terrace bar. These events are part of the wider Glasgow Science Festival schedule.

Can’t make it? Not to worry – The Antonine Board Gamers meet on the third Tuesday of every month in the Wheatsheaf Inn, Main Street, Torrance G64 – For more details contact Iain at  play@othergames.co.uk

Fun with DNA

DNA, the ‘building block of life’, is what makes us so alike yet so different. This molecule is the subject of three hands-on activities for families at this year’s Glasgow Science Festival, led by postgraduates Weronika, Lauren and Millie.

1.Who are you and what do you do?

Weronika

Weronika: My name is Weronika and I am currently working on a PhD project, which aims to design a quick and simple diagnostic test for hepatitis C virus.

Lauren

Lauren: My name is Lauren and I am currently working on a PhD project which aims to find new treatments for haemorrhagic stroke.

Milly

Milly: My name is Milly and I am currently a PhD student working on prostate cancer

2. Have you done public engagement before? What made you want to get involved?

Weronika: I have never done public engagement work before, but I thought that taking part in the Glasgow Science Festival would be a perfect opportunity. I genuinely like to try out different experiences and challenges and I always found the prospect of working with people exciting. There is nothing more rewarding than to engage with the public, especially non-scientific people as it helps to remind me why I love science so much.

Lauren: Glasgow Science Festival is my first public engagement work! I enjoy the challenge of trying to make relatively complex concepts more accessible to those without much prior knowledge of the subject. I think it is really important for children and young people to be exposed to the amazing work that is going on within the field at the moment. Sometimes it can be difficult to relate what is learned in the classroom to how this knowledge could be applied in real life and I think the Glasgow Science Festival gives current science students a fantastic opportunity to be able to forge this link and spark interest in the sciences!

Milly: Being a part of the Glasgow Science Festival Internship has been my first experience with public engagement. I find public engagement such an important part of research, allowing scientists to talk about their research and teach the public on relatively complicated topics in a much more understandable way. I got involved so I could help children understand science in a fun and creative way!

3. Describe your activity to us. Why should we come along?

Our activity is based around DNA and how each of us has our own unique changes to this DNA sequence which makes us, us! Through activities including building a DNA molecule from sweeties to catching a criminal and saving the Scottish Wildcat through DNA analysis, our activity will leave everyone with a greater appreciation for the importance of DNA technologies in our world today. Plus you will get a chance to gain some scientific knowledge in a fun, family-friendly way!

4. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

Weronika: I definitely could not live without my smartphone. It allows me to send emails, read scientific articles and communicate with people. That definitely saves my time tremendously and not to mention space in my already overly large bag!

Lauren: I think my answer may be similar to many people – my smartphone! It is extremely helpful nowadays to be connected wherever you are – whether that be for work or keeping in touch with friends/family. I think you only realise how important your device is to your day to day life when you forget to charge it and your day seems to run much less efficiently!

Milly: The internet has to be the BEST innovation of all time. It allows me to keep in contact with people all over the world as well as keeping me up to date on research …. and shopping!

 5. Impress us with your favourite science joke or fact

There is enough DNA in an average person’s body to stretch from the sun to Pluto and back. 17 times.

Weronika, Lauren and Milly will be bringing fun science to the Science Sunday Big Birthday Bash on 19 June from 10:00-16:00 at the Hunter Hall, University of Glasgow.

 

The Gravitational Wave Detectors

Communicating complex concepts and specialised research is a big challenge for scientists. This group of postgraduates have developed a fun, interactive activity to explain gravitational waves to a public audience at the Science Sunday Big Birthday Bash.

graviwaves

 

1. Who are you and what do you do?

Holly: I’m a PhD student in the chemistry department and I make materials that can levitate trains using powerful magnetic fields!

Euan: I’m a PhD student in the particle theory group of Glasgow university. I study ways of simulating small patches of spacetime on a supercomputer.

Finlay: I’m Finlay, and I’m a PhD student who fires lasers at strange liquids to make crystals grow in them.

Fraser: I’m Fraser, a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Glasgow. I use nanotechnology to make millions of tiny pillars that fit on a slide no larger than your thumbnail, and we want to use these to get stem cells to do what they’re told.

2. What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

Holly: I’ve never carried out public engagement before, but am really excited about the prospect of making science cool for non-scientists!

Euan: Besides GSF I am a volunteer organiser for the Pint of Science festival, in which researchers give talks about their work to general audiences in pubs. I am attracted to public engagement by the prospect of inspiring the next generation of scientists.

Finlay: I love teaching, and helping others see that ‘complicated science’ is actually easier than it seems. This is my first time being involved with Glasgow Science Festival, but won’t be the last!

Fraser: I’ve never been properly involved with public engagement, but I’ve taught in a high school before as part of my undergraduate course in Physics. I really loved seeing young people, and even the teachers, getting involved in some “complicated” concepts like Gravitational Waves and Spacetime, and seeing the questions they asked and the ideas that they had towards it. Public engagement is also really good for teaching yourself things, because if you want to explain something in a really easy way to understand you need to really understand it yourself first.

3. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

We’ve built ourselves a pretty cool make-shift gravitational wave detector that you can come and try out to detect a gravitational wave, and have a chunk of spacetime that we’ve cleverly captured in a tupperware box, along with a star on a stick, to show you how spacetime really makes gravity happen.

4. It’s Glasgow Science Festival’s 10th birthday! We’ll be celebrating with some science-themed cake and balloons. What’s your birthday treat of choice?

Holly: Definitely mascara.

Euan: google maps

Finlay: My GPS watch.

Fraser: Hot showers. Have you tried going a day or two with only cold showers? Brrrr.

5. And finally: impress us with your favourite science fact or joke.

There are places in the universe which are physically impossible for humans to reach, since they are moving away from us faster than the speed of light.

Holly, Euan, Finlay and Fraser will be at the Science Sunday Big Birthday Bash on 19th June from 10:00-16:00 in the Hunter Hall, University of Glasgow. For more information, visit the website.

 

Science-themed Monopoloy

Our postgraduate internship brings together researchers from a huge range of subjects, be it stem cells, ice sheets, nano-sized materials or renewable energy. We chatted to one of the postgrad teams as they prepare to bring their hands-on activity to the Science Sunday Big Birthday Bash on 19th June.

team

The team preparing for GSF 2016

1. Who are you and what do you do?

crystal

Crystal: Hi, my name is Crystal Smiley and I am in my final year of my PhD within the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences. My research focuses on detecting oxygen and hydrogen isotopes within water from different terrestrial sources, such as the Greenland Ice Sheet and the annual snow cover, within the marine environment in retrospect to marine palaeo-runoff proxies.

Mark

Mark: I’m Mark and I am currently doing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. My research involves understanding how cells change their behaviour based on what kind of surface that they are growing on, which could be used to make stem cells turn into bone.

Eddy: I’m Eddy and I’m in my first year of a Chemistry PhD at Glasgow University. I’m investigating nano-sized metal oxide clusters that could be used as molecular magnets.

Roberta

Roberta: I am Roberta, a first year PhD at the Chemistry department. I have always been fascinated by the use of renewable sources to produce clean energy. My research is focused on this field by looking at an alternative way to store energy using hydrogen.

2. Have you done public engagement before? What made you want to get involved?

Crystal: Yes, I have done two public engagement activities before. I participated in the Glasgow Science Festival in 2013 presenting Ocean Acidification affects on corals. In 2014, I travelled to the US to give a seminar on “Opportunities in Earth Science” within the Aberdeen, Washington and McCleary, Washington School Districts. I started public engagement because I wanted to share the world of science and its many fascinating discoveries. I also wanted to strengthen my presenting skills to a non-science based community.

Mark: I’ve not done any public engagement before. I wanted to get involved because I wanted to take advantage of as many opportunities that a PhD provides as possible. A PhD gives you a chance to take part in so many things that you’d never thought about before and this is one of those things that you don’t know what it’s all about or whether you’ll like until you’ve tried it.

Eddy: This is my first time doing public engagement. I wanted share my enthusiasm for science and how science has changed our world for the better.

Roberta: This is the first time I’ve done public engagement but I really like the idea of sharing my passion with others. I think that doing public engagement is a beautiful way to inspire young minds to pursue a career in science and I really like the idea of being a part of this.

3. Describe your activity to us. Why should we come along?

Come visit us and discover some of the Scottish Innovation technologies that make Glasgow a greener, cleaner, safer and smarter city. Join in on the fun by playing a giant innovation version of your family friendly board game, MONOPOLY! As you move around the board you will have the opportunity to learn and collect some of the new innovations that are happening around Glasgow. Collecting four innovations of the same colour or one of each colour wins a special prize and bragging rights for the year!

4. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

Crystal: It’s hard to narrow down one innovation to live without but I couldn’t live without my camera.

Mark: Too many things that, I think, we wouldn’t even realise we needed until they weren’t there. I would say a microwave; it makes it really easy to heat up all my leftover meals.

Eddy: The kettle.

Roberta: I think I could never live without a smartphone. This is very funny because actually I was one of the last among my group of friends to get one and now I use it for almost everything.

4. Finally… impress us with your favourite science fact or joke!

Crystal: Why wasn’t the Geologist hungry? Because they lost their APATITE.

How often do you like jokes about elements? PERIODICALLY

Eddy: Atoms, with a callous disregard for etymology, can in fact be split.

Never trust an atom. They make up everything

Roberta: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate!

Meet Crystal, Mark, Eddy and Robert and have fun with giant Monopoly at the Science Sunday Big Birthday Bash on 19 June, 10:00-16:00 in the Hunter Hall, University of Glasgow. More information on the website.

The Science of Superbugs

Antiobiotic resistance is a growing problem in public health, yet overuse or misuse of antiobiotics remains an issue. Every year, 700,000 people die from drug-resistant infections. For this year’s Glasgow Science Festival, a group of postgraduate interns from the University of Glasgow have developed a fun, hands-on activity to explore the science of antiobiotics at the Science Sunday Big Birthday Bash.

1. Who are you and what do you do?

Andrei loves liquid helium

My name is Andrei Kamenski, and I’m doing a PhD at the University of Glasgow. I’m trying to find out the structure of a protein (a large biological molecule) that is involved in transferring information in the cell and, probably, in breast cancer.

Biav

My name is Biav Kittani. I’m a Clinical Pharmacist.  And currently, trying to be an optimistic PhD student.  The focus of my PhD is to find a new therapy for Stroke.

Edu

My name is Edubiel Alpizar. I am veterinary doctor. I have worked with marine mammals, zoo and domestic animals, my favorites are sea lions. I have been an athlete my entire life. I worked as an artist and stunt-sports man for many years, but I always had some energy left so I decided to work as a scientist the rest of my life. I am currently doing my PhD research in Brazil, Mexico and UK to understand how parasites evolve and their mechanisms of resistance to different drugs. During my spare time, I am training to compete in an Ironman Triathlon.

Cheeky Nuria after horse surgery

My name is Nuria Terron and I am vet surgeon that has embarked on a PhD at the University of Glasgow, studying a virus that causes skin cancer in horses.

2. Have you done public engagement before? What made you want to get involved?

Andrei: Never, but I have considered it for quite a while. I think that going out there and speaking to people is beneficial for everyone involved. We often hear about some cool discoveries from the media, but to me it all looks like it’s happening behind the glass if there is no contact with the people who actually do the research. Having obtained some experience in biology, I want to share how it’s done day-to-day, and what topics are currently in the spotlight, as well as learn more about what people find important, and what concerns they have about modern science.

Biav: As a STEM Ambassador, I participated in a number of STEM and career fairs in schools. I also took part in the 3 minutes thesis competition. You can have a look at my presentation here: http://youtu.be/2SvN0eE-5bU

Personally, I enjoy public engagement events enormously. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than to see kids curious about science and having fun at the same time. Science events give us the opportunity to promote science, and to demonstrate that science can be fun and entertaining.

Edubiel: Yes, quite a few activities in Mexico, Brazil and more recently in the UK. In the past I worked with Public Health and developed many activities and workshops teaching school children from poor communities, key messages to prevent many of the most neglected parasitic diseases of the world. The reason I have done public engagement is that one of the main reasons why the world has more football players than scientists, is that scientists we have forgotten to do a very important part of our job: to make it fun and entertaining for everybody. Also because one of the best sensations that I have experienced in my life, is a very special energy, like an electric current going all over my body when I am sharing knowledge, that is why I became a scientist. And I do believe, science is changing the world rapidly.

Nuria: I always enjoyed interacting with people and science and public engagement events are just that for me: a fun way of conveying science and a fulfilling experience because I learn so much from the audience every time I participate in those events. I have volunteered for the Glasgow Science Festival in several occasions and I have been an event manager at the Glasgow Science Centre during Explorathon. I also have participated in events in community centres where I have had very rewarding experiences with kids particularly.

3. Describe your activity to us. Why should we come along?

We have designed a couple of activities with two main purposes: to make people aware of the problem of antibiotic resistance and to have fun while learning from each other!

The first activity is a straightforward yet very easy and visual experiment whereby you will learn how bacteria become resistant when exposed to antibiotics without killing them. Be prepared to be amused with colour-changing bacteria, and to put your science skills to the test while using pipettes!

The second activity is a hands-on experiment (literally) whereby you will discover what bacteria do with the antibiotic when they have become resistant. You will be very surprised with the outcome, and just a hint… our bacteria can move and ‘eat’ things!

4. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

Andrei: That would probably be the Internet, and it would be quite difficult writing for this blog without it… Pretty sure invention of logarithms by a Scotsman John Napier in the 16th century has played a big role here.

Biav: If it wasn’t for the Scottish genius Mr. John Logie Baird, I wouldn’t be able to watch my favourite tv shows such as “Doctor Who?”.

Edubiel: The perfect 4D design of my brain. More accurately, Science.

Nuria: My mum makes the most amazing fig jam in the world and I could not enjoy my favourite breakfast if it wasn’t for Mr. Alan MacMasters, the Scotsman who invented the toaster, the Scottish innovation I could most definitely not live without.

5. Impress us with your favourite science joke or fact.

How can you tell the difference between a chemist and a plumber? Ask them to pronounce “unionized”.

Join Andrei, Biav, Edubiel and Nuria at the Science Sunday Big Birthday Bash on 19 June from 10:00-16:00 at the Hunter Hall, University of Glasgow. The event is FREE and filled with fun activities for all ages, to shortcut you into the world of research.

Trackers

From planets to particles, tracking movement is carried out by scientists from all disciplines. We chatted to two of our postgraduate interns, Kim and Mat, about their tracking-themed activity which will be on show as part of the Science Sunday Big Birthday Bash on 19 June.

1. Who are you and what do you do?

Kim: I’m Kim Wood, a PhD student at the University of Glasgow. My research focuses on the use of stable isotopes to uncover information on the diet, health and movement of wildebeest in the Serengeti.

Mat: I’m Mat and I research the interaction between high power ultrasonic waves (waves that vibrate just a bit faster than the ones you can hear) and material microstructure. In my spare time I like to go rock climbing and campaign for human rights.

2. Have you done public engagement before? What made you want to get involved?

Kim: I’ve been lucky enough to get involved in a quite a bit of public engagement work in the past, mostly centred around zoology and conservation; from teaching tourists about turtles on Greek boat trips to helping produce biology-themed articles for theGIST magazine here in Glasgow. I wanted to get involved with Glasgow Science Festival, as it’s a great opportunity to develop my hands-on science communication skills in a setting that is very different from my day-to-day academic environment.

Mat: I’ve always really enjoyed teaching and thinking up ways to make science more accessible to people who might not initially think they are interested in it. There is a lot of public engagement in the human rights work that I do, and I thought that bridging the gap between that work and my research would be really fun.

3. Describe your activity to us. Why should we come along?

Our theme is ‘tracking in science’ and we look at how and why scientists need to be able to measure movement at different scales, from planets to particles. For the activity itself, you will become detectives, tracking different animals using all of your senses. You will have to identify birds, frogs, fish and predators using different tracking techniques. The skills you will learn are used by scientists for a huge range of things in everyday research – you will even be able to use them to search for other animals in the wild.

4. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

Kim: Google – the know-it-all’s holy grail! Honestly, I can’t imagine how people survived without it. I’m a fan of medical and criminal procedural dramas and I watch them equipped with my smart phone, ready to double check any ‘facts’ I’ve not heard before. Ditto with spelling – if I come across a word I’ve not seen previously, I google the spelling/definition and copy it out into a little notebook!

Mat: I have arthritis and therefore couldn’t live without the advances biologists and medics have made in targeting specific drugs to treat it. The recent advances in this medicine have been a game-changer for people with arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, enabling us to get on with what we want to do just like everyone else!

5. Impress us with your favourite science joke or fact

Despite the impressive length of a giraffe’s neck, they contain only 7 cervical vertebrae (neck bones) – the same amount as a human! The bones are simply elongated in the giraffe, and each can be up to a foot long. Google a picture! This is compelling evidence for evolution and the constraints that anatomy may impose on it.

Join Kim and Mat on 19 June from 10:00-16:00 in the Hunter Hall, University of Glasgow. For more information, visit our website.

The Great and Powerful Fizz

Every year, Glasgow Science Festival’s Internship scheme gives postgraduate students the chance to develop, test and deliver a public engagement activity at one of our busy family days. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be chatting to some of the students involved, giving a flavour of what’s in store.

Group

L to R: Amira, Charlie, Nivedha and Salma

1. Who are you and what do you do?

I am Amira Elayouty, last year Ph.D. candidate in Statistics. I am from Egypt and have been living in Glasgow for 3.5 years now. My Ph.D. focuses on developing tools and methods to analyse and extract common and peculiar patterns of environmental high-frequency (15-min) data recorded over long periods of time.

Hi, I’m Charlie Gilles and I’m a PhD student in Earth Science here at Glasgow. I’m a geologist and love all things rock related, including the music, but give me a rock, any rock, and I’ll chat to you about it for days.  My research focuses on improving our understanding of landslides, by developing a hazard assessment system using different aspects across all fields of geoscience.

I’m Nivedha, a first year PhD student researching nanowire transistors, a tiny switch (100 times smaller than a human hair!) that allows us to count the number of electrons that pass through it.

My name is Salma Islam and I’m a postgraduate researcher at the University of Glasgow in Physics & Astronomy. I spend my days running simulations on the movement of galaxies trying to figure out how the universe works, specifically trying to learn more about the mysterious invisible dark matter that makes it up and causes galaxies to move in strange ways. I blame being raised from the age of 6 on a diet of Star Trek, Star Wars and every science fiction movie under the Sun for me turning out the way I have. I have no regrets 🙂

2. Have you done public engagement before? What made you want to get involved?

Amira: Not really. I am keen on participating and getting involved in such a big event in Glasgow to acquire more skills in communicating and delivering science to non-science people in an easy and simple way. I believe that part of the success of research is the ability to deliver it to everyone in and out the field of research. It is also a great opportunity to enhance other skills like team working, planning, budgeting, taking responsibility… and above all it is fun. We do need to break up our work with some fun to boost our productivity.

Charlie: I’ve done some public engagement, working with one of three Geoparks in Scotland. The main focus was to share and inspire those about local geology and how important geology is to our everyday life. I was keen to get involved with the science festival to get more people engaging with science in a fun and interactive setting. I also got involved to help improve my communication, media and project management skills. It’s been great!

Nivedha: I have done the ‘3 Minute Thesis’ competition, and I am also getting involved in the Glasgow science slam. I got involved to spread my enthusiasm for science to the public. It also helped me become a more confident speaker and helps me articulate complicated concepts in simple terms.

Salma: Yes I have. I’ve always enjoyed presenting science and fun facts to younger audiences in ways that are cool and amusing. Seeing children enjoying themselves while learning something new never fails to make my day. My first time talking to kids was actually for Star Wars Day several years ago talking about the science of Star Wars … complete with lightsabers! I’ve also volunteered with the IOP ‘Lab in a Lorry’ project as it toured around Scotland trying to blow up wine glasses and have also done work with the Glasgow Science Festival in previous years. I loved every minute!

3. Describe your activity to us. Why should we come along?

Have you ever looked at the list of ingredients on your toothpaste, shampoo or a packet of Rennie and thought: “Huh, I didn’t realise sodium bicarbonate is in this… I wonder… what else it’s used for?”

Well we all have and that’s why we decided to explore the surprisingly wide range of uses of sodium bicarbonate and have twp great activities for you and your family to com along and try!

Our activities:

‘The Cakes that Fizz’ – This experiment allows you to mould your own cake and watch it fizz. Any excuse for making the addition of glitter an educational experience.

‘The Mad Scientists’ Tea Party’ – Putting a fun and colourful twist on the classic neutralisation reaction experiment.

So come along and join us, The Great & Powerful Fizz, as we explore the wonderful uses of sodium bicarbonate.

Expect plenty of fun, fizz and fabulous facts!

4. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

Amira: Internet is the best invention ever, can’t imagine my social and research life without it!!!

Charlie: I admit it: I get lost easily.

This is why I love my GPS and can’t picture not having it in my car or on my phone! Just type in an address, or even just the name and your GPS will guide you there. Stress free driving with the bonus of avoiding awkwardly asking for directions. You can get maps for all over the world, allowing you to explore new places, or find old ones, without having to open the A to Z. I’ll never get lost again!

Nivedha: I could not live without Wi-Fi. It allows for such quick and easy access from almost anywhere to a vast amount of knowledge, we call the internet. It allows us to communicate remotely via Skype/Facetime and it always keeps me entertained.

Salma: I genuinely am not sure how to answer this … there are so many things I can’t live without! I’d probably have to say electricity. We’ve become so reliant on it and everything is interconnected because of it that the whole world would go mad without it, just without the zombies 😀 . Definitely electricity 😀

5. Impress us with your favourite science joke or fact

Fun fact…

Sodium bicarbonate was a frequent source of punch lines for Groucho Marx in Marx brothers’ movies. In Duck Soup, Marx plays the leader of a nation at war. In one scene, he receives a message from the battlefield that his general is reporting a gas attack, and Groucho tells his aide: “Tell him to take a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda and a half a glass of water.”

Join Amira, Charlie, Nivedha and Salma for ‘The Great and Powerful Fizz’ at the Science Sunday Big Birthday Bash on Sunday 19 June. The day runs from 10:00-16:00 in the Hunter Hall and is absolutely free.