Sunday, 20 March 2016

Nottingham Science in the Park 2016 - Part 1

NSB had a great time at the recent "Science in the Park" event at Wollaton Hall, Nottingham. An annual event, it is run by the Nottinghamshire branch of the British Science Association.

2000 people were expected, but around 7000 people actually turned up - which certainly explains why it was so busy!


Respect to the organisers and respect to the attendees!!


The Gallery space had been given over to a science fair competition with pupils in key stages 2, 3 or 4 being invited to bring their own projects to present to the public. NSB was particularly impressed with a presentation that aimed to answer the question of whether lemons or potatoes were the best choice as a battery for a LED light. Sadly, it was too busy for NSB to get answer from the presenter, so really curious about how this turned out...

Are lemons or potatoes the better battery?

Trying to find the answer...

Another interesting presentation that NSB noticed related to climate change - the student has charted the data from the weather station in Sheffield to show what has been happening to temperatures there over that last 130 years, as something similar has probably happened in Nottingham.

Part of the poster on climate change in Nottingham

The Sheffield temperature data

Crikey. That suggests a temperature rise of over a degree since 1883! - and that is in the context of a need to keep temperature rises below 2C compared to pre-industrial levels if we wish to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change.

What CO2 has been doing over a similar timeframe

So far as NSB can tell, the Sheffield weather station does not collect CO2 data, so these figures appear to have come from another source.


Elsewhere at the event, a bunch of Physics students were explaining about "iridescence" - the phenomena where surfaces show differing bright colours depending on the angle you look at them from. This can be caused by thin films on the surface causing reflected light rays to interact - like the rainbows shown om oily puddles. Or it can be caused by tiny structures on the surface causing light to diffract - like the rainbows one can see on the surface of a CD.

The outside of the Jewel beetle wing case

The inside of the Jewel beetle wing case

Only the outside of the Jewel Beetle exoskeleton has the microstructures that create the iridescence, the inside shows that the natural colour of the exoskelton is brown.

Peacock feather

Peacock feathers are well known for their iridescence. You can read more about how they achieve this effect here and here.


Elsewhere, always nice to see some stick models of chemicals - in this case aromas and the chemicals that cause them.....

Aromatic chemicals and their structures



Spent quite a bit of time at the OPAL stand. The team there explained how they are encouraging adults and children to explore and characterise their local environment via a series of survey guides that they supply. The resulting data is used to build up a picture of plant, insect and animal trends across the country. You can see some examples (and download survey guides) at their website here.

A typical pond sample and survey guide to characterise it.

Some of the surveys OPAL would like you to do...


At the "Pint of Science" stand, is was all about DNA...

Busy at the "Pint of Science" bench

Make your own DNA...kinda


Lastly, but by no means completely, and interesting display from researchers at the new Hounsfield Facility at the Sutton Bonington Campus of the UoN. The team are growing test plants in pots and have a robot and CAT scanner that periodically images the plants to see how the roots are growing. Over time the results give an insight into how neighbouring plants grow their roots and how the roots interact. Important stuff given global concerns about soil quality and food yields. You can read more about this research here.

Imaging of root systems

Update 29 Mar 2016
Check out guest post Part 2 by Gav, which contains notes from two talks at the event, here.

Related Contect
From Soil to Supper
Event : Mayfest 2014
Event : Science in the Park 2013

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