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Malvern Science in the Park 2020

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Alfresco Family Event

 Saturday 27th June 2020

 Virtually anywhere!


Unfortunately, COVID-19 meant that we were unable to host crowds of people in the park this year, so instead we went virtual.


This was our fourth annual fun and exciting day exploring the wonders of science and technology.

The event took place on Zoom and was streamed live on Facebook, where you can watch the entire day back.  We are also uploading segments to our YouTube channel.

You can still try out some of the experiments for yourself guided by our live science demonstrators and by collecting some equipment in advance (see items below marked with a ).

#InnovateMalvern, #ScienceInPark 


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The IET have put together a geo-quiz for those who live in and around Malvern. Respecting social distancing and household-bubbles, contestants will need to find clues and answer questions at 10 locations.  You can still have a go by downloading the quiz sheet and the locked image file that you will follow clues to open.



Activites for all the family

Experiments, games, talks and demonstrations showcasing science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 


Your host for the day, Dr Adrian Burden.

Lead organiser of the annual Malvern Science in the Park and founder of the Malvern Festival of Innovation will be in Mission Control hoping that the tech works and introducing the fantastic participants who have jumped to the challenge and adapted to science communication in the virtual world.

 Download and print off the Science Bingo sheet and be ready to cross off the words and colour in the shapes!




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Virtual kick-off:

Prof. Malcolm Macleod, Chief Scientist, Research and Innovation, & Dean of Fellows at QinetiQ, and Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde will kindly be joining us on-line to officially open the Virtual Malvern Science in the Park. [Watch]


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Floating and Sinking, from Dancing Raisins to Lava Lamps

The Institute of Physics are starting the day with some investigations into the science of floating and sinking, ably assisted by two young scientists. Why did you wear a swim vest and armbands when you were learning to swim? [Watch]

 Download the equipment list so that you can try these experiments at home at the same time or afterwards.

@iophwc, @PhysicsNews



John Bibby: 3-2-1 blast-off

STEM Ambassador John Bibby usually fires his compressed air and water rockets live in the park, so this year he has kindly made time for us to film him loading the rockets with propellant and testing them out in a nearby field. See Newton's Laws of Motion in action! [Watch]


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Malvern Hills Pi Jam: Data input

Steve Dawes, an active member of the Malvern Hills Pi Jam sessions, will demonstrate how to input data from sensors into a Raspberry Pi. This will be shown in the context of some parts of a home-made weather station (for example, windspeed and rainfall) as well as a button and movement sensor. These inputs can then be measured and logged automatically. [Watch]



Sarah Cosgriff. Why astronauts need a space suit.

Sarah is a science communicator and biologist. She loves talking about the links between biology and physics so for this segment, she will be exploring astronaut suit design and some of the physics that enables the body inside the spacesuit to stay alive. Through some demonstrations, Sarah will show you how to investigate the principles of pressure at home. [Watch]





Home Experiments: Bouncing eggs & home-grown crystals.

The STEM Response Team is an award-winning outreach and public engagement team from the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) at the University of Wolverhampton.

In thie segment they'll start by demonstrating how to make coloured eggs that bounce using ingredients from your kitchen. Can you imagine how an egg could bounce like a ball off a hard floor? 

 To try this at home you'll need: some eggs, a jar or cup for each egg, vinegar, food colouring, spoon, bowl, water

Then the team will show you how to grow some crystals at home too. [Watch]

To try this, you'll need: sugar, salt, bicarbonate of soda, warm water, 3 spoons, 6 containers, marker pen, and 3 pipettes / droppers or very small spoons.

You can also download their STEM At Home Booklet do describe these and other experiments in more detail.  There are more free resources here too.

@STEMResponseWLV, @DrKhechara, @HeatherAngellx



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Dr Mark O'Dell. A look back in time: Fossils from the Malverns and the Cotswolds.

Local paleontologist Mark will talk about the tools he uses to find, extract and clean-up fossils. He's found interesting samples to the west of the Malvern Hills and a little further afield in the Cotswolds. This presentation will give you an understanding of why we can find certain types of fossils in this area. Later in the day, Mark will be back to show some samples live on air! [Watch]



STEMWorks. Drip Drop Tick Tock.

Based in Gloucestershire, STEMworks specialise in the design and delivery of education outreach programmes. They work with schools, businesses, teachers and other organisations promoting STEM skills.

During this session STEMworks will look at the science of measuring time, explore the history of water clocks and provide ideas on how to build a simple water clock. [Watch]

Your engineering challenge: Design a water clock that will measure a specific period of time and share your photos or videos with us so we can judge how well it works and win a small prize for a creative outcome that meets the specification.

  In preparation, it would be useful to collect small containers of different shapes and sizes that can hold water ready to use in your project.





Dr Chris Hamlett. The surprising structures of surfaces.

Chris is the Henry Royce National Outreach Officer for Materials Science, based in the School of Metallurgy & Materials at the University of Birmingham.

He will be joining us live from Birmingham and looking at the structure of some natural and manmade materials that have unusual properties as a result of their microscopic structure. Have you ever looked in detail at a butterfly's wing or a gecko's foot? This is your opportunity to see for yourself, with the help of Chris's friends at Zeiss who have used scanning electron microscopy to look even closer! [Watch]




Sarah Cosgriff. 

Sarah returns to follow-up on her discussion about astronaut space suit design and to continue exploring the relevance of biology and physics to making them work well. [Watch]





Caroline Alliston. Engineering a balloon-powered buggy. 

Caroline is a STEM educator and a professional design and development engineer with a degree from Cambridge and 24 years’ experience in industry. She is also author of the 'Technology for Fun' series of books that describe her favourite and most successful STEM projects. [Watch]

During this session, Caroline will explain how to build an exciting balloon-powered buggy.

@technologyfun, @IMechE, @IMechE_Worcs





Dr Chris Hamlett. Surfactants and Elephant's Toothpaste.

We welcome Chris back for a second instalment.

This time he'll be demonstrating surface tension, hydrophobic surfaces, and hydrophilic surfaces with the help of a gigantic lotus leaf.  And then he'll explain the importance of chemical surfactants and concoct a mixture that could be useful for cleaning the teeth of elephants! [Watch]




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Dr Ioanna Zafeiri. Food science for thought!

Ioanna is a Research Fellow within the Microstructure Engineering Group in the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. She is currently working on the production of sterile therapeutics for applications in regenerative medicine.

With an expertise in the microstructure of foods, she will explain which common foods are emulsions and she will show you what is the best way to prepare your own salad dressing using simple ingredients from your kitchen/fridge. [Watch]





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Dr Vassilis Pelekanos. Tricking our brain and how we research it.

Vas is a Senior Research Fellow working in the field of Neuroscience in the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham.  In this session, we'll find out a bit about his job researching the human brian, and he will show us some optical illusions that trick the brain into 'seeing' the wrong the thing. [Watch]

@uUoNOutreach, UniofNottingham




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Do try this at home: Bubble Mania.

The Institute of Physics is back with one of the most popular activities at Malvern Science in the Park and we want you to be able to do it at home!

Everyone is fascinated by bubbles, but there is a big difference between the solution in small bubble tubs and that used to make the huge bubbles made by professionals. We will show you how to make these strong bubbles (at only a small cost) so that you can wow your friends! [Watch]

  Download the equipment list so that you can try these experiments at home at the same time or afterwards.

@iophwc, @PhysicsNews




Dr Andrew Holding. The scourge of scurvy, and other nutritious stories.

Andrew is a Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences at the University of York where his research team investigates how the messages carried by the estrogen hormone are altered in tumours to drive the growth of breast cancer.

But on this occasion he will be explaining to us why sailors were encouraged to eat lemons or limes, what happens if you become deficient in vitamin C, and how food and nutrition is important to the basic biochemical reactions in our bodies. [Watch]




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Dr Azarmidokht Gholamipour-Shirazi. Battery Quiz.

Azar is a Research Fellow in the Energy Materials Group in the School of Metallurgy & Materials at the University of Birmingham. Previously she has worked on 3D Printing edible materials. In this slot, she will encourage you to use your grey matter to answer some questions about energy and batteries in an interactive "pub quiz". [Watch]



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Richard Baker. The Magic of Numbers.

Richard is a chartered electrical engineer with over 40 years of experience in systems engineering. He's currently involved in designing the integration of electronic systems in to rail vehicles, and specifying new systems for future developments. Much of this is associated with battery systems and various ways of charging traction batteries to meet the new environmentally-friendly challenges of a world without diesel power.

Richard will give a talk about the magic of numbers, demonstrated using a card trick. This is a contribution from the Institution of Engineering & Technology (The IET), which this year celebrates 150 years of inspiring, informing and influencing the global engineering community. [Watch]

  Have a pack of playing cards to hand.




The Great Exhibition at Home: How can engineering help protect the planet?

In the spirit of Prince Albert’s original Great Exhibition, which showcased the most exciting Victorian technology and inventions from 1851, students across the UK are taking part in engineering challenges and creating their own Great Exhibitions at home!

Why not submit a 1 minute video presenting your Great Exhibition at Home answering the question 'How can engineering help protect the planet?'. This segment will give you more information about the competition, with plenty of time to present your own ideas before the end of July deadline. More details here. [Watch]




Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. All about insects. 

The Worcestershire Wildlife Trust is a local charity working towards a county rich in wildlife. They work with other organisations and landowners to protect and connect wildlife sites across Worcestershire, as well as inspiring local communities and young people to care for wildlife where they live.

This short segment will explain what an insect is and what you'd need to go insect hunting. [Watch]

  Download the Inspect Spotter Sheet, find a small paint brush and some plastic containers.



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Derek Cunningham. Software Defined Radio.

Derek is another active member of the Malvern Hills Raspberry Pi Jam club and has been using 'software defined radio' for a number of home projects, including for a weather station and to track aircraft. Tune in and he'll tell you more in this segment. [Watch]




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QinetiQ. Round and round the Möbius strip.

Graedon Crouch, a cyber security specialist at QinetiQ in Malvern, will join us to explain how you can use mathematics to make love hearts! By combining two Möbius strips (a Möbius strip is an infinite loop with only one side) and cutting them in half, you can demonstrate some amazing maths to someone special. [Watch]

  Before you begin, you'll need:

· A print out of the ‘Möbius Strip Hearts’ (one page will make two hearts)
· A pair of scissors
· A glue stick
· An adult to help if you get stuck





Syd Femtinos. What does a plant's leaf do with sunlight?

Syd is a dynamic, engaging and experienced broadcaster with the ability to engage with a diverse range of individuals. A former qualified science teacher, Syd has worked in some of the top private, state and grammar schools around the West Midlands. She holds an MSci in Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics from the University of Birmingham and a PGDipEd from the King Edward’s Consortium.

Join Syd as we explore leaves around us like never before! We investigate plant cells and how they make food for the plant using the process of photosynthesis. Be ready with some craft materials for a crafty science session with Syd! [Watch]

  You will need:

 - A real leaf(!), A4 paper, felt-tip pens, green paper, scissors, glue.
 - If you have a microscope, have it handy!
 - And lots of curiosity!

  LearnwithSyd (subscribe here for some more awesome science, maths and art videos)



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Dr Mark O'Dell. A look back in time: Fossils from the Malverns and the Cotswolds part 2.

Local paleontologist Mark returns with a selection of fossils that he has found in the Malverns, the Cotswolds and from further afield. This is a fantastic chance to see the details of some great examples from his collection and to ask some questions about fossil hunting. [Watch]



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Dr Ilija Rašović. A chat about carbon.

Ilija has dual roles at the University of Birmingham between the Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences (LANS) Hub and the Engineering & Physical Sciences (EPS) college, where he teaches modules with an interdisciplinary science focus and champions the importance of science communication. He also carries out research on the synthesis of new fullerene-based materials for use in biomedical applications.

Ilija will join host Adrian to have a discussion about the wonderful world of carbon. Have you ever wondered how sparkly diamond and 'pencil lead' graphite could possibly be made of the same atoms? Have you heard about buckyballs and graphene and wondered what they really are? All will be explained! [Watch]



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Do try this at home: Science with a washing line.

Tim O, a STEM Ambassador and IoP outreach volunteer writes "when I heard recently that this event was going ahead, but was to be online this year, I went into the garden to think about what we could do. The first thing I spotted was the washing-line and was immediately reminded of an activity involving a pendulum that we did 3 years ago. From that, the ideas flowed and today I will show you 8 little demonstrations, most of which you can try out yourself as they do not require any special equipment." [Watch]

  Download the equipment list so that you can try these experiments at home at the same time or afterwards.

@iophwc, @PhysicsNews



Evie Snedker. Nasty microbes!

Evie is studying for a degree in biology at the University of Leeds, and is currently on her industry placement year at DSTL.

Now that we've all become experts on the dangers of the coronavirus, Evie will be joining us to discuss some of the other contagious microbes in our world and how best to avoid catching them. [Watch]




Home Experiments: Stripy celery & invisible ink.

The award winning STEM Response Team from the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) at the University of Wolverhampton return for another session!

First they will show you how you can make stripy celery which also tells you a bit about how plants transport water around themselves. 

 To try this at home you'll need: a leafy celery stalk, cup, spoon, food colouring, water (and a kitchen knife with a responsible adult to help you).

And next you'll learn how to make invisible ink, write a secret message and then later reveal the hidden words.

 To make your own, you'll need: milk or lemon juice, bowl, water, cotton bud or paint brush (and a warm light bulb with a responsible adult to help you).

[Watch]. You can also download their STEM At Home Booklet do describe these and other experiments in more detail.  There are more free resources here too.



Sam Burden. Paper aeroplanes - art or science?

Sam is studying Natural Sciences at the University of Bath. He is currently working in an industry placement at DSTL.

During this segment, Sam will show you how to make a number of different types of paper aeroplane before we see which one flies the furthest and the most elegantly. Will you be able to predict the best model before the test flight? [Watch]

Have a go at making your own paper plane and show us how your test flight performs on social media. Use your pens, pencils and imagination to produce an eye-catching aircraft livery as well.

Instructions to make the 'F15 jet' aeroplane are here.

  A4 paper, ruler, coloured pens




Syd Femtinos. The Big Bang.

Syd is back for her second session for the day, and this time we go back in time to explore the Big Bang! Be ready to get active with some "Kung-fu Science" as we learn about the Big Bang timeline. Be ready with some craft materials for a crafty science session with Syd! [Watch]

  For this session, you will need:

 - A4 paper and felt-tip pens
 - Space for some movement!

  LearnwithSyd (subscribe here for some more awesome science, maths and art videos)



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Hilary Edgeley. The Rock Cycle.

Hilary is a retired teacher/tutor with twenty years of experience. She has a degree in Geology and is a member of the Malvern U3A Geology and Science groups. For the past five years Hilary has been part of the Geology group steering committee.

During her presentation today, she will talk about the three general types of rocks; igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic, including the origins of each rock type, and how the rock cycle connects and impacts on each of them. [Watch]


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Malvern Hills Pi Jam: Mentos & fizz

Steve Dawes, from the Malvern Hills Pi Jam club, returns for a second instalment.  This time he will illustrate how the Raspberry Pi can be used to send output control signals to make things happen. What do you think happens when you drop a Mentos sweet into Coca Cola (other carbonated drinks and mint confectionary are available)? [Watch]



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Mike Church. A career in 1s and 0s?

Mike has been a Software Engineer for almost 45 years. In that time, computer hardware and software technologies have both advanced at an extraordinary rate, so how is Mike still able to ply his trade as effectively now as he did when he first started out on his chosen career? Because education does not stop when you leave school or university, it is a lifelong activity.

This will be a question and answer session about the history of computing and what you could be doing as a computer scientist or computer engineer in the future. [Watch]




Sibghat Ullah, Artificial Intelligence now and in the future.

Sibghat is a PhD student undertaking scientific research on a European project at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), in The Netherlands  He is modelling intrinsic uncertainty / noise in the area of Computational Intelligence. In this session, Sibghat will be giving a brief introduction to Artificial Intelligence, its history, trends and future outlook. [Watch]




Caroline Alliston. Coloured wheel spinner.

Caroline returns with another experiment from her 'Technology for Fun' series of books. This time, she'll describe how to build a wheel of colours and how this leads to different colours being visible when you spin it. [Watch]

@technologyfun, @IMechE, @IMechE_Worcs



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Exploring Space

We know you love learning about space so the Institute of Physics has prepared some simple experiments and demonstrations.

Sizes in space are out of this world! Use your body, balls and other models to compare the size and spacing of planets in the Solar System.

Find out how we use starlight to learn about stars...and how we can protect ourselves from too much!

Astronauts use positive-pressure glove boxes to handle space samples remotely. We'll show you how to build a simple glove box to practise your own skills. [Watch]

  Equipment list for looking at light investigation and building an astronaut's glove box.

@iophwc, @PhysicsNews

16:30 BONUS!


Jon Wood. Why do we breathe?

The day is just not long enough to fit it all in, but we couldn't close without this fabulous contribution from science presenter extraordinaire Jon Wood...

Jon asks a good question! Is it because we need oxygen, or something else? Well there's a simple way to find out as Jon will demonstrate in this segment. [Watch]

  If you don't have any difficulties breathing, such as asthma, then you could repeat the experiment for yourself, but you'll need to get hold of a pulse oximeter which you may be able to do from your school. 



Round-up & Close

Final remarks and thanks to all the participants and supporters. [Watch]




Malvern Radar and Technology History Society. Thermal Imaging.

The Malvern Radar and Technology History Society (MRATHS) have kindly put together a video about thermal imaging, one of the many technologies developed in Malvern over the years. [Watch]






Thanks to Dr Alan Smith CPhys, FInstP from West Midland Branch of the IoP for his help with the organisation of this event.


2020 Malvern Science in the Park Sponsors & Supporters