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Students become experts for the day at Cambridge Science Festival Schools Zone

By Ben Comber

2017 Cambridge Science Festival
2017 Cambridge Science Festival

Secondary and sixth form students will get the chance to showcase their scientific successes.

2017 Cambridge Science Festival
2017 Cambridge Science Festival

Can woodlice be trained, do toys stop you fidgeting and could you create an artwork using only milk are just some of the questions posed by student boffins in this year’s Cambridge Science Festival Schools Zone.

This Saturday, March 25, sees the biggest ever Schools Zone with students from 13 secondary schools and sixth form colleges showcasing their scientific successes.

Acting as experts for the day, students will display their science, technology, engineering or maths projects from lessons and science clubs to members of the public and members of the University of Cambridge.

Festival spokesperson Sue Long said: “The Schools Zone gives students the chance to show off the amazing things they are doing either in science class or after-school activities. Last year’s Schools Zone was a huge success and we expect this year’s event to be even more exciting and inspiring.”

2017 Cambridge Science Festival
2017 Cambridge Science Festival

Student sleuths from Ely College will invite visitors to carry out a series of forensic tests, ranging from DNA extraction to toxin analysis, to identify which one of four suspects is a criminal mastermind. Visitors will be asked to analyse a hair, a sample of liquid and an unidentified toxin to work out whodunit.

Swavesey Village College pupils will investigate whether bugs can be bribed, as they try to train woodlice to defy their natural behaviour. Visitors will be invited to join in the experiment to see if woodlice can associate a particular stimulus with a reward, predicting findings on a decision tree.

Meanwhile, pupils from Chesterton Community College’s science club will reveal the science of smells, producing chemical compounds used as fragrances, called esters, and showing how the perfume industry produces essential oils and fragrances.

2017 Cambridge Science Festival
2017 Cambridge Science Festival

One of last year’s most popular exhibits returns - the Goblin Racing Car. The project has introduced pupils from St Faith’s School to theoretical and practical engineering, giving them the opportunity to build, test, modify and race a battery-powered racing car.

Those seeking to improve their powers of concentration may find the answer in Sawtry Village Academy’s research into fidget toys, used to develop fine motor skills, focus, tactile awareness and visual perception. Students will examine the effect a fidget toy has on how much a person can concentrate on school work.

There’s also a chance to get in touch with your creative side, as pupils from Parkside Community College’s science club demonstrate how to make a lava lamp, and create art with milk, as well as inviting visitors to experience static electricity.

As part of the Cambridge Science Festival – the UK’s largest free science festival – the family-friendly Schools Zone attracted hundreds of visitors last year.

2017 Cambridge Science Festival
2017 Cambridge Science Festival

This year is expected to attract an even larger pool of visitors, hopeful of seeing the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians as they bring a different kind of interactive fun to the Festival.

The Schools Zone will be held at the Hauser Forum on the West Cambridge Site on Saturday 25 March 2017 from 11am to 3pm.


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