Cheltenham Pop-Up Science Centre
This half term, The Cheltenham Science Group have a free Pop-Up Science Centre in the Regent Arcade, Cheltenham. They are there from 9am – 4pm from Saturday 12th until Friday 19th February, with a range of exhibits, some of their own and some borrowed from At-Bristol Science Centre. Obviously, being a devoted Science teacher, I couldn’t leave that behind for a week’s holiday, so I decided to volunteer and help out Sunday morning.
On Sunday, the majority of the exhibits were focused on “Light and Sound”, and there was something for all ages. The range of different mirrors were great for the youngest of children, with the one producing the “upside-down” image being the most popular.
For the older children, the most popular exhibit had to be an earthquake simulator. The idea being to build a tower of blocks and set up a mini-earthquake to see how stable it was. Of course, for the majority, it was the sheer joy of seeing the tower toppling down which was the real draw to this exhibit.
Also popular, a no surprise why, were the range of different noisy exhibits. I loved demonstrating the Boomwhackers – hollow plastic tubes which are tuned to musical pitches by their length, and how by placing a cap on the top of each one, their tone was lowered by a whole octave. The visitors to the Pop-Up Centre could also play tunes using a xylophone or on a range of partially filled milk bottles.
My personal favourite had to be the exhibit provided by The Cotswold Perfumery – a range of different fragrances to sniff and guess what each was. I even learnt something myself in that the chemical carvone which is found in spearmint and caraway exists in two mirror image forms and this is why the same chemical can produce the two distinctly different smells.
Whilst I was volunteering, Rich bought the girls up to have come and have a play too. Their excitement to see me, was matched by their excitement of all the hands-on exhibits. Like me, Freyja enjoyed smelling all the different scents and was able to correctly guess the one which was lavender – although I shouldn’t really be surprised with the amount that I use it at home to help “calm” the girls!
Emily’s destructive tendencies came out at the prospect of building towers and creating mini-earthquakes to knock them down. However, when it came to upsetting Freyja by knocking down her towers, it was time for Rich and the girls to make a hasty retreat for cake!
Seeing how much fun both children and adult were having really hit home just what is lacking in Gloucestershire, and what the Cheltenham Science Group is aiming to do – open a permanent hands-on science centre in Cheltenham town centre. Please, check out their website to find out how you could support them.
The Pop-Up Centre is on just for half term and is well worth a visit. However, if you can’t make it then, there are a range of other events on over the next few months.