This week is British Science Week, which sees people across the UK celebrating the role that science, technology and engineering play in our lives. Surveys routinely show that while people think that science is important, they don't necessarily feel that it is for them - something that they can have a personal involvement in. Understandably, the use of high tech equipment, years of study and sometimes impenetrable jargon can give the impression that science is only for a select group of people. But medical advances that improve our chances of survival, discoveries that help us to understand our place in the universe and technological advances that mean we can all hold a cutting-edge computer in our hands are all underpinned by scientific research.
While access to expensive lab equipment might not be within everyone's grasp, learning how to think more scientifically can be. The videos that we at the Royal Institution are releasing as part of ExpeRimental, our project aiming to bring science home, show just how easy and fun it is to do science experiments at home.
You may have a memory of making a volcano with bicarbonate of soda and vinegar or tried another science activity at home that felt like it took hours to set up, then clean up, for only five minutes of underwhelming activity. Our videos aim to show how you can get more out such activities by demonstrating the kind of approach parents can take to encourage their children to think about what's going on in a scientific manner. The films show the sorts of questions that you can ask while doing the experiment, how to make predictions and look closely at what is happening during the activity. We've tested all of the activities ourselves and made sure they are worth the effort! All twenty activities use common household ingredients so there's no need for specialised equipment.
The videos that we have made have featured a diverse range of people running the activities in different settings. We have made a concerted effort to find contributors from a wide variety of backgrounds, family settings and ethnic groups. From the mums and sons and fathers and daughter that you might expect, we have also made videos with playworkers at an adventure playground in London, and a pack of Brownies in Northern Ireland. In fact, for this second series of ExpeRimental supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry we have travelled around the country to make videos with people from across the UK.
As part of our celebrations of British Science Week, we are releasing the video featuring the Brownies in Northern Ireland, and a family in Wales who use the scientific method to make the best microwave cake. These videos complement the video released at the beginning of the series showing a mother and two daughters in Scotland doing their own forensic investigation to discover the author of a secret message. I hope that you will be inspired to do your own celebration of science this week, even if you don't live near any of the thousands of special activities happening across the country, you can bring a little bit of science home.