Category Archives: Lates

People mixing up their bath bombs

Chemistry Lates

Chemistry was the key to this month’s Lates – the chemistry of bath products, warfare, alcohol and even luuurve…

As well as all the talks and tours (cockroaches included) you could make elemental fridge magnets and bath bombs to take home. The bath bombs looked like pink/green/blue porridge to start with, but looked much more appealing after they’d started to set.  

Elsewhere there were people wandering around clutching huge bubbles full of cloudy carbon dioxide or throwing crazy shapes in the Space gallery to the music that only they could hear. You meet all sorts at Lates…

Check out Patu Tinfinger’s beautiful pictures of the evening: 

We also had a little experiment with a smartphone app called SCVNGR that gives you points for completing challenges and even lets you set challenges for other people to complete – read my earlier post for details.

After a rough count and excluding a couple of staff members, 30 people used the app and completed around 70 challenges.

We had some really nice responses – great pics of people performing loud moves in the silent disco and some thoughtful / funny responses to the ‘Object of Desire’ challenge. Most picked their favourite Museum object and explained why they love it, but someone took a picture of a bottle of beer and one guy rather sweetly took a picture of lovely lady who I suspect is his girlfriend. Now that’s chemistry in action…

I think there would have been more activity if there wasn’t already so much to do at Lates. It seemed the perfect testing ground but maybe the app is better suited to spicing up a regular daytime visit to the Museum when there isn’t quite so much going on.

The other issue was that we were trying to encourage people to create their own challenges – something that very few people did. But there’s still time…

You can use SCVNGR whenever you come to the Museum, so next time you’re here have a little play, and - if inspiration strikes – leave a challenge to inspire everyone who comes after you.

Object of Desire challenge on SCVNGR app

Gaming the Museum

Here at the Science Museum we like to play games.

Our galleries are full of things to play with, both physical and digital. In Launchpad there are contraptions where you can build up pressure to fire a rocket, multi-player mechanical games with levers and pulleys and a rotation station that spins you like an ice-skater.

Over the years we’ve also created lots of free online games, from the physics-based blockbuster Launchball to cute Thingdom and challenging Rizk. Plus, in October we’re going to hold a live gaming festival in association with Trigger. More details on that one in good time…

We’re also interested in how we can make the experience of visiting the Museum a bit more playful on a day to day basis.

One of the things that we’ve been looking at is a mobile app that promises to create a game layer over the real world. SCVNGR encourages you to complete challenges associated with places (in this case the Science Museum) in order to get points.

There are a bunch of pre-set challenges for every place – take a picture, leave a comment, check in on your own or with friends. But you can also create your own challenges, which is what we’re going to ask you to do at Lates on Wednesday.

I’ve already set up one to get us started – ‘Object of Desire’ asks you to take a picture of your favourite object in the Museum and tell the world why you love it.

Object of Desire challenge on SCVNGR app

Object of Desire challenge on SCVNGR app

But now it’s over to you and we’re really excited to see what challenges you come up with. They can test people’s knowledge, get them to look really hard at our collections or they can just encourage some scientific silliness. It is Lates after all…

To get involved you’ll need a smart phone running the free SCVNGR app. It’s available for iPhones and Android phones.

The Punk Science boys

Space Lates

Meet Jon, the man tasked with making Lates great.
Punk Science

Punk Science boys - Jon's on the left standing like a hero

He’s been working away on the programme for this month’s Space-themed Lates (Wednesday 27 April 6.45 – 10pm) but he’s taken a break to tell us what he’s got in store…

We’re all really excited about this Month’s Lates inspired by the Science of Space. The real star is Yuri Gagarin and most of what we’re running will have some sort of link to celebrate the anniversary of him being the first man in space 50 years ago.

We’ll have Gagarin himself (well an actor playing him) in on the night as well as amazing tour of the exploring Space gallery given by Senior Curator Doug Millard. I could listen to him talking about space the entire night, so it’s a shame I’ll busy working.

We also have a talk from Prof Ian Morison about the Russian domination of the space race. Chris Riley will be joining us to talk about his new documentary film “First Orbit” charting Gagarin’s epic journey around the earth, and he’ll be popping down to the Museum shop to sign copies of his book at 9.30pm. Also, in the shop this month will be Vix Southgate signing copies of her book on Yuri Gagarin.

There’s also a fantastic talk on space food in which there’ll be a chance to look at the real thing and taste some too.

Punk Science fans (all 2 or 3 of you) need not fret as they are back in action at this month’s Lates with more of the sort of stuff of that thing that they do. 

Only one Pub Quiz this time round so make sure you get there early.

Plus there’s tours galore including a look round the new gallery James Watt and our world, Who Am I? and Challenge of Materials

 PS This is sort of stuff of that thing that Punk Science do.

[yframe url='']

Decorating mechanical bugs

Launchpad Lates – March 2011

Ah Lates – the one night a month we stay open till 10pm and welcome crowds of the young and fun for a strangely successful blend of science and socialising. And silent disco of course…

This month the theme was the ‘Science of Launchpad’. Launchpad is one of our most-popular galleries, stuffed with interactive games that teach you about the laws of physics.

Check out the pictures to see what we all got up to:

My highlight of the evening was the talk by Prof Richard Wiseman, a psychologist and former magician who ruthlessly exposes how our preconceptions can make us see things that aren’t there, miss the blindingly obvious and believe in things that just aren’t true.

The paranormal was his target for the evening and he showed a selection of tricks that made me realise how easy it is to pull the wool over my eyes - watch the video and see if you’re as much of a mug as me.

[yframe url='']

Due to time-table conflicts I tragically missed my chance to hurl Barbie across the room in the name of science. The Launch and Liberate Barbie event got people to build a contraption to chuck her as far from Ken as possible. I’d love to have seen it - did anyone get any pictures?

The next Lates is the 27 April and the theme is Space. We thought it might be nice to let someone else do the talking, so we’re looking for a guest blogger to write it up for us. Let us know if you fancy it.

Hope to see you all there…