Richard Pering, Learning Resources Project Coordinator, shares the latest news from the Building Bridges project.
What has a foam-filled Mr Potato Head got to do with a scarily thin cross-section of a Boeing 747? 11-12 year old students in London and Reading have been exploring this and other unusual questions as part of the Science Museum’s Building Bridges project. The project aims to help students make sense of the science that shapes their lives, by getting them to take part in activities which will develop useful skills for a career in science or any other field.
We spent the beginning of the year visiting all 21 schools taking part, and have met some incredibly talented future scientists. We’ve worked with their teachers to help the students recognise their own potential, and look at science in a different way.
By using a hair dryer to make a ping pong ball float in the air, students brought the Museum’s Lockheed Electra to life. Some trickery with super-absorbent hydrogel got everyone considering the uncomfortable reality of an astronaut’s underwear, while whipping a tablecloth out from under a load of crockery brought home just how useful friction (or a lack of it) can be – not least for giant monster trucks.
It was amazing to see students grabbing the opportunity to demonstrate the science behind some of our favourite objects to their classmates, building their confidence and starting some really interesting conversations about the science hidden in everyday life.
As for Mr Potato Head, suffice to say he didn’t enjoy finding out what it’d feel like if the Boeing’s cabin wasn’t pressurised. His foam insides became his outsides.
To have a go at similar experiments yourself, or with budding scientists you know, take a look at our Kitchen Science activities.