Cambridge Science Centre


A Week at Cambridge Science Centre

Written on 13 Jun 2016 in Blog

Monday: I started my week with a meeting of everyone in the charity. I got to see everyone and their jobs, from the finance dashboards of the Development managers, to intricate exhibition development charts, to the sprawling year plan of Outreach. This was a brilliant chance for me to see how the charity worked as an organisation. But also in this meeting, I got to see how much fun everyone was. People were all so enthusiastic, and genuinely nice.

The next thing I did was sit in on a training session of a new show about Darwin. Firstly, the show was brilliant! But then, perhaps more interesting, I got to hear what everyone thought about it, and how everyone worked together to make the show as good as it could be. People had such cool, inventive ideas to make the show amazing.

After lunch in the office, I worked with the Marketing and Communications Officer, Lisa, and I put together a social media schedule for the week. I looked around lots of science-y news to try to find interesting facts and discoveries to make interesting and useful posts on Facebook and Twitter. Probably the most interesting was that Antarctica used to be covered by dinosaurs and dense forestry! That was very cool. Sitting in the office, I also got to talk to the Outreach department, who seemed very shocked that I’d never watched Disney films!

Tuesday: I spent Tuesday in the centre. We started with exhibition checks, and found quite a few things that had to be fixed - I discovered the Communicator Toolbox, and that the two Allen key sets were my best friends!

Then there was a school visit of KS1 children. A Science Communicator delivered a show - Stronger By Design, and this was an opportunity for me to see how to tailor communication to a set audience. Beforehand, I’d read the show, and the background information, and as I watched the show, I recognised how explanations were tailored to an audience. This has really helped my improve my scientific communication.

In the afternoon, I was in the centre, helping to create a magnetic water cycle board. We trimmed a sheet with a design down to size, and then had to work out how to fit a frame. We then screwed everything into place, and started cutting out images printed onto magnets.

Wednesday: In the morning, I did exhibition checks again, and helped to change over an exhibit, unscrewing, and removing a Raspberry Pi, and replacing it with an exhibit about amino acids.

I spent lunch in the sunny courtyard with two of the Outreach officers, and had good fun talking to them about how they got into science. I really have been amazed by how kind and welcoming everyone is - it’s such a nice environment to work in, and I’m really grateful to everyone at the centre who has been so brilliant.

The afternoon had visits from a Dutch school group of 15 and 16 year olds. This was a dramatic contrast to the KS1 pupils the day before, and really helped to develop my science communication skills. The show was about Newton’s laws of motion, and used demos of water bottles on roller skates, as well as demonstrating Newton’s first law with a hoverboard. After helping out in their visit, and making a three-canopied Mars lander, I got to ride the hoverboard, which was even more fun than it looked.

Thursday: I was back with Lisa in the morning, this time getting the centre on Instagram. It’s @cambridgesciencecentre, and you should definitely follow! After setting up, and following people, it was time to generate content! We went around the centre, finding our cool exhibits, and recording them. As part of this, I built an infinite loop on our Space race! exhibit, and filmed a ball run on this.

After this, I helped creating props for another show. I velcroed images to phones to show how they were broken, for a reuse/recycle/landfill challenge, and then we looked at a demo using a sensitive indicator to see the change in acidity when I blew into water. Here we were looking at the correct concentration of indicator, and length of blowing, to ensure the demo would work every time! We also used citric acid in water, to dissolve a seashell, which was really shocking. I hadn’t fully realised that oceans absorbing CO2 was making such a difference, and I found out more about this. What we think of as a harmless carbon sink that removes it from our atmosphere really is harming marine life, and this is shown in dying coral reefs.

Friday: My last day! I’d made flapjack for everyone to say thank you for how great this week has been, but unfortunately, very few people were in the centre! Outreach were all out, well, doing outreach, and lots of people weren’t in. But the weekend should be busier, and I’m sure the flapjack will keep, though I’m sad that I haven’t had the chance to say goodbye to everyone properly!

Today I wrote up some of the projects that I’d been working on over the week, preparing an explanation of a concept to two different audiences. I chose to explain why the far side of the moon is more cratered. For the curious, as the Moon orbits the Earth, it rotates in the same time, meaning that the same side of the Moon always faces us. This means that this side has many fewer craters, because it has the protection of the Earth, which is much bigger, and so shields it from debris flying at many angles. However, the Earth doesn’t have many craters. This is because most meteoroids (rocky debris from comets and asteroids) burn up in the atmosphere due to friction. The Earth, and our atmosphere, protect the near side of the Moon. But the far side is left completely vulnerable - there is nothing to block objects that might hit it, which has left it much much more cratered than the near side.

Then it was time for a Marketing and Communications meeting with an external PR agency to help organise an event. This was a brilliant insight into how big events actually get developed and organised.

And then, in the afternoon, writing this blog post! Looking back on this week has really made me realise how brilliant this week has been, and how much I’ll miss all the brilliant people I’ve got to work with. But I’ll start volunteering as soon as I turn 16, so I won’t be gone for long. I’d definitely recommend the Cambridge Science Centre for everyone - as well as being a truly brilliant centre, it’s full of wonderful, inspiring, dedicated people.