Apr 21, 2017

Science Festival 2017 at the Sedgwick

Explosive (Earth) activities @ the Sedgwick Museum took place on Saturday 18th March 2017...!
Category: 2017
Posted by: Sarah

The Explosive Earth team consisted of 12 research students from the University of Cambridge Volcano and Seismology Group and 6 undergraduates from the Department of Earth Sciences working alongside the Sedgwick Museum. Within hours they had put together an amazing educational exhibition for visitors to the Science Festival.

The Festival’s first weekend concentrated on Cambridge City Centre with Downing Site as a hub for visitors wanting to see talks and hands-on events at University Departments including Anatomy, Geography, Archaeology and Physiology. The event was in the beautiful Watson Gallery (also known as the Common Room) surrounded by the unique Building Stones collection. The exhibition consisted of hands-on activities, interactive games, displays and handling opportunities.

To understand the great forces involved in earthquakes, visitors were encouraged to build structures from cocktail sticks and mini marshmallows and load them onto a ‘shaky’ table to recreate earthquake conditions. Microscopes were set up for viewing volcanic rocks (black basalt and olive green dunite) and comparing their composition in cross polarised light.

Visitors created their own personal earthquakes by jumping onto a special mat, which was recorded by a seismometer and had their very own earthquake trace to take home.

With league tables recording the biggest earthquake for the day and in the previous hour, some very intense but healthy competition ensued. An earthquake prediction table proved very popular as well as an eruption simulator with various scenarios of types of eruption. Various demonstrations were available including P-waves and S-waves experiments using a slinky, and some more complex and indeed messier demonstrations were safely shown on a monitor with handouts available for people to take away and recreate at home.

Very young volcanic rocks could be viewed and handled as well as some older and more unusual volcanic rocks samples. Throughout the day; with suspicious predictability, a ‘volcano’ would ‘erupt’ outside the department for the gathering crowd. Using the trusty model volcano, a cola drink and sugary sweet combination would, at regular intervals throughout the day, cover the closest demonstrators with sticky ‘lava’.

During the course of the day there were over a 1000 visitors. With new knowledge gained and families fully engaged (in some cases for well over an hour) the event was very successful. The Museum would like to thank Professor Robert White, Jenny Woods and every member of the Explosive Earth team that helped for the event. It was only possible with their input and support.

Helen Devereux
Public Programmes Coordinator