The Experiments

Each experiment on Lab in a Lorry is designed to be as interactive as possible and cover a wide variety of physics topics.

All lorries carry three experiments, but they vary from region to region as noted. Students will have the opportunity to do two experiments during a typical one hour visit.

1. Climate Change (Scotland only)

This experiment raises awareness of the issues associated with climate change and has a particular focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions through renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. Students begin by investigating different sources of energy and how energy use is measured. Students then focus on wind turbines and PV cells before being introduced to the energy debate. Finally, students investigate energy efficiency.

This experiment has been developed with funding from the Scottish Government.

Download the Climate Change follow up experiment sheet.

2. Camera Optoelectronics

This experiment gives students a general introduction to optics and the application of lenses. Students begin by exploring the most basic of all cameras - the pin hole camera – before making their own to take a photograph with. Students are then introduced to digital cameras and investigate concepts such as resolution, file sizes and pixels.             

This experiment has been developed with funding from the Rank Prize Funds and is used on Lab in a Lorry in Scotland.

Download the Camera Optoelectronics follow up experiment sheets.

3. Resonance

Students start this experiment by investigating what sound is with slinkies, wine glasses, tuning forks, their voices and a loudspeaker. Having measured the resonant frequency of a wine glass, students make a wine glass resonate using just electromechanical energy from a loudspeaker matched to the natural frequency of the glass. The highlight of the experiment is seeing the glass flexing whilst illuminated with a strobe light.

Download the Resonance follow up experiment sheets.

Download the Welsh language version.

Spectrogram - the spectrum analyser software used on Lab in a Lorry is a freeware program that can be easily found online.

Sample Data - Bottle Frequencies.xls

4. Helen Shaw cell  

This experiment investigates oil extraction by challenging students to get as much “oil” (glycerine) out of the cell as efficiently as possible. Prior to being set this challenge, students learn about how oil is formed and why it is important by introducing them to fossil, rock and oil samples. Students also explore surface tension, density and viscosity. Overall, this experiment is a means of understanding and simulating how oil is extracted using sea water, and why a large reservoir of oil remains in the ground.  

Download the Oil Well follow up experiment sheet.

5. Scattering

During this experiment students investigate why sunsets appear red and why the sky is blue. Adding Dettol to a tube of water, illuminated by a light source from below, illustrates Rayleigh scattering which is the cause of the sunset and sky colours. As an additional part of the experiment students explore polarization before creating a fructose solution in the tube. By passing polarized light through the solution and viewing the tube with polarized filters, students observe a spiral rainbow – a result of the fructose molecules scattering the light and changing the plane of polarization of light as it comes up the tube.

Download the Scattering follow up experiment sheets.

Download the Welsh language version.

6. Medical Physics

In this experiment the students explore optical fibres and their uses. We begin by investigating how optical fibres work. The students complete a variety of hands on activities, including building a light circuit to demonstrate the principle of Total Internal Reflection. Next they are introduced to an endoscope and inspection camera – tools we can use to see in hard to reach places. The students then practice using these by searching for hidden objects inside a puzzle box. Finally the experiment culminates in a simulated medical operation – where the students complete a gastroscopy on a dummy patient.

This experiment has been developed with funding from the Rank Prize Funds and used on Lab in a Lorry in North West England.

Download the Medical Optoelectronics follow up experiment sheets.

Download the Medical Optoelectronics leave behind - Welsh language version.

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