Physics in the Field 2015

16 December 2015

Nottingham Trent University physics student Caroline Shaw helped run the East Midlands mini Physics in the Field at a local church fair, St Paul's, West Bridgford. Here's what she had to say about her experience.

Caroline Shaw

Using everyday items we demonstrated physics experiments to men, women and children, and explained the physics behind them. The public experimented with the equipment themselves such as stabbing a balloon with a wooden skewer (without popping it!) or making a mini oboe using only a straw and a pair of scissors. It was incredibly enjoyable watching as they tried to figure out how to complete each task and seeing the happiness on their faces when they beat the leading time on moving water from one bottle to another, or watched an Alka-Seltzer rocket shoot up into the air.

One of the most enjoyable parts was when performing the waterproof hanky ‘trick’, where a glass of water with nothing more than a handkerchief held over the top, was tipped upside down over someone’s head. Almost every single time the person beneath the glass would flinch thinking they would have water poured on their head; when they stayed perfectly dry they seemed amazed and relieved!

It was generally the curiosity of the children which got the adults to come over to the stand, however once there, they would be just as interested in participating and understanding why the experiments worked the way they did as the kids. There were brownies, helpers, teachers, parents, grandparents, children with their faces painted and/or covered in ice cream and many more all who wanted to give everything a go to see what happened. As a well done for partaking, everyone who wanted one was given bubbles and a frisbee. It didn’t take long for the stand to be surrounded with bubbles, flying frisbees and the sound of straw oboes.

The event was a great success as we got everyone to think and try to explain to us why things happened the way they did; everyone was encouraged to learn new information, apply it, and most importantly, have fun! We had people returning to the stand repeatedly to have another go and to show off to their friends what they had learnt; this encouraged even more people to discover how amazing physics is!