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2013-03-20-164.jpgBetween 19-22 March 2013 over 850 pupils from local schools visited The University of Manchester as part of the National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW). The aim of the event was to enthuse the pupils from years 5-9 about studying science and engineering through a variety of stalls showcasing how science, engineering, technology and maths impacts on our everyday lives, and shapes our daily decisions. The pupils had the opportunity to get up close with some of the cutting-edge research going on at The University of Manchester, and take part in a range of activities designed to inspire them to becoming the scientists of the future.

The Barometer Podcast had a stall at the event with a few demonstrations of the type of research we do at the Centre for Atmospheric Science. The pupils were able to look at some real ice crystals through a microscope, learning how they are formed and what they are called, e.g. columns, dendrites and plates. The ingredients and processes for making a cloud were discussed and followed by a great demonstration, aptly named ‘Cloud in Bottle’ emphasising the importance of needing aerosols as a surface for the water to condense on to. Aerosols were introduced including how they range in size, chemical composition and other properties such as whether they like to take on water and therefore if they are likely to make clouds. A demonstration on the size and number of aerosols in a fixed volume was given, which included a baseball bat, 9 table tennis balls, 3000 raisins, and 3 million grains of sugar (not individually counted, obviously)! A particle counter further demonstrated how size and number of aerosols are related; there are a great number of smaller particles. Various household items including talcum powder, air freshener and a toaster were used and the pupils found there were more aerosols from a toaster than talcum powder because they were smaller and so were not visible. The demonstrations were wrapped up with explanations on how we have to study these tiny, invisible particles to better understand cloud formation, the weather and even climate. So if the weatherman doesn’t always get the forecast right they now understood why.

In this episode we find out what the pupils thought of our stall, what other exciting scientific things they had seen and learnt, and how many budding scientists we had inspired.

Vox-popping interviewers: Sam Illingworth and Sam Hardy

Production: Nicky Young

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