It was a case of ‘back to School’ for me and my colleague on Monday when we attended a brilliant workshop run by Lorelly Wilson, founder of Chemistry with Cabbage.
You may remember that I wrote about Lorelly and her fantastic organisation in a blog post last month when she explained to me that she had originally set up the company to try to encourage young children to develop an interest in chemistry and to help them understand that chemistry is a natural part of our everyday lives.
Anyway, Monday afternoon saw me and my colleague join Miss Wright’s Year 5 and 6 class at Aston by Sutton Primary School near Runcorn, Cheshire where we were made very welcome and it was great to get the chance to see Lorelly ‘in action’.
It was clear from the start that the children were spellbound listening to Lorelly explaining the relevance of science in our everyday lives and watching her demonstrating lots of different chemical experiments. You could hear a pin drop while Lorelly was talking and that’s quite an achievement with a group of 9 and 10 years olds!
The School had chosen to have a full day workshop so there was plenty of time for demonstrations and discussion plus lots of opportunities for ‘hands on’ experiments that the children could get involved in.
We had time for a chat with some of the pupils and Miss Wright at the end of the day and the words “brilliant”, “fun”, “really good” and “exciting” came up time and again
Wearing her trademark pink lab coat Lorelly asked lots of questions and the class was very responsive – the children were clearly not just being entertained but were understanding and retaining much of their learnt knowledge. It was great to see Lorelly ‘de-mystifying’ chemistry and making it relevant to them.
The fun part was a series of ‘hands on’ experiments in the classroom using ordinary substances such as bicarbonate of soda, red cabbage, sugar, washing up liquid and milk. The children donned basic protective clothing including safety goggles and gloves before they set to. Amongst the demonstrations and activities were:-
- How to make an indicator using red cabbage
- How to test household chemicals for acidity, alkalinity and neutrality
- Performing a neutralisation
- Testing the strength of acids and alkalis
- Denaturing protein
- Cleaning a coin in acid
- Making plastic
- Making a fire extinguisher
- Performing reactions with sodium bicarbonate
It was so refreshing for me and my colleague to see young children really getting stuck into chemistry experiments and enjoying the experience. It’s not that many years ago that a chemistry set was a popular Christmas present for children but sadly these days many pre-high school children don’t have the opportunity to do much ‘hands on’ chemistry.
You can go on the Chemistry with Cabbage website at www.chemistrywithcabbage.co.uk where there are lots of tips and suggestions for things you can try at home together with fun and professional links. Lorelly’s work is supported by teachers and Ofsted and you can read some of their comments on her website.
Lorelly is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and sits on the RSC Schools and Colleges committee. She was awarded the prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry Inspiration in Industry award for 2012. She is also honorary member and chair of the North West branch of the British Science Association.
I really enjoy working with children of this age when I can spend a whole day with them and feel as though I’ve made a difference. It’s clear that there are some budding chemists amongst this class
We had time for a chat with some of the pupils and Miss Wright at the end of the day and the words “brilliant”, “fun”, “really good” and “exciting” came up time and again. What an achievement by Chemistry with Cabbage.
Lorelly said to me before she left, “I really enjoy working with children of this age when I can spend a whole day with them and feel as though I’ve made a difference. It’s clear that there are some budding chemists amongst this class.”
Chemistry with Cabbage also runs one-hour shows of chemistry experiments, demonstration lectures for secondary school pupils and demonstration talks for students of all ages, teachers and adult groups.