IOP has a fruitful time at festival near its future home in King’s Cross

17 June 2015

Making batteries out of citrus fruits and playing with electrically conducting dough were some of the activities on offer from the IOP at a festival held on 15 June in King’s Cross, close to where the Institute is to have its new London home.

Cally Festival

IOP staff and volunteers were at the Cally Festival with physics demonstrations and experiments to engage festival-goers. These included wiring up oranges, lemons and limes and showing how they could be used to produce an electric current, and being creative with coloured dough that had been made to a salt-heavy recipe so that it was optimally conductive of electricity. Small battery packs were attached to the dough shapes and used to light up LEDs.

The IOP’s presence at the festival had a dual purpose: it was an occasion for engaging the public with physics and an opportunity for the Institute to be more closely involved with the local community.

The IOP’s head of outreach and engagement, Johanna Kieniewicz, said: “It was a Physics in the Field event, introducing the public to physics in a very friendly, gentle way. A lot of people have a preconception that physics is something that’s only done in a lab by a certain sort of person. We wanted to show that physics is something that anyone can engage with and enjoy. The activity with the dough may look like it was just for kids, but when we were talking about the physics involved we were very much talking to both the children and their parents and trying to show that physics is something that the children might be interested in.

Cally Festival

“We were also very keen to engage with the Islington community and to be a part of local festivals like this. When we move to King’s Cross we very much want to have open doors to the local community and to do things that they can engage with in a meaningful way, as we did here with the Cally Festival. Most of the festival-goers we spoke to were not aware that we would be relocating to King’s Cross but those that did generally said ‘we know you’re coming and we’re very excited about it’.”

The festival was well attended and the IOP team engaged more than 450 people. Physics in the Field events will be taking place around the country this summer. The next event in King’s Cross that will involve the IOP is a festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend, which is being organised by The Knowledge Quarter and in which it is anticipated that locally based organisations such as Google, the British Library, the Francis Crick Institute and the Guardian will take part.