Monday, 27 July 2009


What a lovely day! After a particularly wet & challenging day yesterday (despite previous post's optimism) I was greeted by blue skies this morning! I had a booking with a group that had been out the previous week and had made a repeat booking today. They were a pleasure last time and we'd had a great time rockpooling and making seaweed presses. So for an alternative I got my laptop and digital microscope out for some magnifying fun!

It worked a treat and we had a look at the underside of a cushion starfish and all the amazing suckers that run down the length of the 5 arms. The little suckers were stretching out in every direction to find a surface to adhere to and just looked incredible under magnification. The children loved it and were equally stunned when we did a mini experiment in the back of the "Van Lab".

If you take some coral weed, I had been told, and put it in some vinegar the calcareous skeleton on the outside of the coral weed would dissolve. Luckily, I had some vinegar in the van for cleaning the windows - much better than nasty chemicals - and so I put a small piece of coral weed in a small microscope tray and added the vinegar...Hey Presto!! As quick as you can say "Starfish" the weed started bubbling away which we could see so well with our laptop/microscope set up. As the calcium carbonate dissolved in the vinegar bubbles of carbon dioxide appeared and the stony skeleton simply dissolved away to leave some naked, filamentous seaweed. I'm not sure who was more excited the children or me! Either way it was great to see some real science under the microscope and have children so engrossed. Science is so much fun when it's hands on and children can directly experience science before their very eyes! It makes it all so worthwhile to see children having so much fun and learning at the same time.

So there will definitely be more "experiments" in the Van-Lab after today's magnificent day!

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