photo of a scientific experiment, showing the bubbles forming in a cup of oil and other ingredients

Froody Science

I’ve been to some beautiful and thought-provoking events at the RiAus over the years.

As a volunteer, I also get a little bit of extra behind-the-scenes training. Usually the training is more about the how-to of events or bigger concepts, such as evidence-based medicine.

All very grown-up and helpful. However, last week saw us get our hands dirty. With a bit of bucket science.

Bucket science is slang for scientific experiments you can do in the comfort of your own home. In fact, most of the ingredients for the experiments can be found in the kitchen. I know that you’re ahead of me on this one: it is also known as kitchen science.

I’m guessing that the phrase bucket science is a local one as, while quite a few of us at the training session knew the term, Wikipedia has no article for it. (Yes, budding wikipedians, here is your opportunity to start a new article.)

But were there any actual buckets? Most certainly! And it was full of slime. Of course, this particular cornflour slime was there to show a little chemistry in action, specifically non-Newtonian fluids.

In addition to buckets, there were lava lamps, condiment / Cartesian divers, and secret bells. On the night, the Cartesian diver got the most scientific discussion going and, for me, has sent me off to find out some science history about Cartesian divers.

And, as always, that’s the trick. To get people interested in the world around them, to get them asking questions. They might accidentally learn a thing or two.

Coathangers for ears?

a woman (mostly her hair) bending over, fingers in ears, has two coathangers attached by string to her fingers

Coathanger Girl

So, what was the most fun? That is just too hard to say. The experiment that surprised me the most was without question the Secret bell: coathanger ears.

I won’t try and attempt to explain this for you. The mere act of explaining might ruin the scientific discovery you are about to experience. That’s because – in the true spirit of bucket science – you need to try it for yourself.

You can see me trying it out in the image to the right. As silly as I look… Ah, just go try it out.

If you want to find out the how-to without any spoilers, I would recommend the youtube clip by Science Off Center. Go on. Stop reading. Start doing.