Sunday, December 3, 2023

Big bangs and bright balloons make physics child’s play at SIBF 2019

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A gaggle of excited youngsters became student scientists during the Chemical Physical Masterclass at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2019 taking place at Sharjah Expo Centre until November 9th. Using a series of experiments the kids learnt that what appears to white light is actually made up of a spectrum of colours, that oxygen is lighter than carbon dioxide, and that balloons make a very loud bang when filled with natural hydrochloride and heated up.

Russian entertainers from 2nd events took the children through a series of experiments to help them to see that chemistry and physics is fun. Their first experiment saw them mix together lemon acid and soda powder which was then poured into a bright orange balloon using a funnel. The balloon is placed over the opening of a chemistry jar that contains water. To a chorus of excited gasps and very wide-eyes the children watched the balloons expanded and grew as the mixture gave off expanding gases.

“This makes carbon dioxide”, yells Timur Bagautdinot, lead scientist and entertainer from Russia, “Where else do we get carbon dioxide?” Many of the clever kids knew the answer to this and other chemistry questions which were posed over the course of the session.

Other fun experiments included sticking knitting needles through the balloon without it popping. This proved more challenging for the class, even though the teachers showed them how it was done, most of the room erupted into loud popping sounds as balloons exploded and the kids guffawed into laughter.

Naked flames and excited children are not always a good mix except when it comes to physics and next up was a demonstration of what happened to calcium when it burns. The assembled kids watched in awe as the calcium was set alight on top of a fuel disk and immediately started to transpose and grow long tendrils upwards.

The last experiment saw a balloon filled with gases from a hydrogen chloride mix being heated up and then explode. The kids loved the show, and appreciated it ending with a bang! Running quickly though what they learnt about chemical compounds and reactions, it is clear the most valuable lesson learnt here is that science can be fun!!

The fair is featuring over 2,000 publishers from 81 countries under Sharjah World Book Capital’s (SWBC) theme of ‘Open Books…Open Minds’. There are 400 fun- filled activities for children including 88 plays and workshops on a variety of creative and educational topics.

Compiled by Roshna K.

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