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Science on tour

Students bring CHaOS to schools around England!

Published: 15 March 2023

Last year, with funding from an Ogden physics education grant, Cambridge Hands-On Science delivered their awe-inspiring workshops to more than 1,800 school pupils (aged 8-15) around England. Their seven-week, super-science roadshow featured 74 university student demonstrators plus a few sixth-form assistants along the way.

Among the captivating science on show, children learnt how to suspend a ball in a stream of air by using the drag force to balance the ball’s weight; got to grips with forces and gravity as they launched water rockets; and witnessed eye-catching smoke rings fired across the room while learning about vortices. Memorable participants included a school netball team, whose precise aiming of the vortex cannon helped them to fire rings into other rings to explore what happened when vortices collide.

A group of pupils - several holding beach balls - take part in a science experiment

The vortex cannon also proved to be a big ‘hit’ when it was used to knock over stacks of paper cups! Other popular physics activities included exploring angular momentum with our spinny chair, learning about projectile motion and air pressure with the vacuum bazooka, using the lower density of warm air to make hot air balloons with a toaster and bin bags, and generating electricity using electromagnetic forces.


One of the CHaOS team organised a workshop at his old primary school.
“Thank you so very much for bringing your amazing CHaOS workshop to our school. Our children had such a wonderful experience. The photos I took during the day captured beautifully the awe and wonder of science. I know the aim of the workshop scheme was to inspire and enthuse our children and you certainly all achieved that. The very fact that you may well have sat on one of the chairs in our classroom and have now gone on to do a PhD really resonated with my class. So much so that this week, during a lesson about personal identity one of my children wrote that one of their hopes and dreams for their future was to do a PhD in science!”

A group of students watch a science experiment that shows a beach ball floating in the air. A teacher and demonstrataor are in front of the group.

Cambridge Hands-On Science is a not-for-profit student-run science outreach society at the University of Cambridge, which aims to inspire interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in children and families (especially those with low science capital) by demonstrating free, fun, hands-on science experiments.

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