Review of 2019

It’s almost Christmas, we’re all taking some time off, so it’s time for the Lab Rascals review of the year! It’s been a busy year for the team! Let’s have a look at our highlights!

We’ve been incredibly busy delivering LEGO wind energy workshops this year, sponsored by eoN and Siemens Gamesa. Hundreds of children have taken part in these workshops, which aim to promote the benefits of wind energy and develop the children’s teamwork and engineering skills.

We’ve also launched 3 new planetarium shows this year! Our commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing was shown at Hull Central Library to launch their summer reading challenge, which was space themed. We then did a number of public performances and took it into a number of schools. Introducing children to the Apollo programme has been one of the highlights of our year!

We’ve also launched 2 other planetarium shows, which are available to book from Jan 2020. Mars and Volcanoes of the solar system. A show on Light will also be available shortly!

We’ve taken part in a number of different public events this year. One of our favourites was the Greenpower race in Hull. We were working on behalf of Siemens Gamesa, promoting the benefits of Wind energy by demonstrating the effects of carbon dioxide in our oceans, using dry ice. This was an incredibly popular event!

We also travelled to Llandudno for the 3 day GB rally. We provided science entertainment for school children and the general public. Slime and dry ice experiments were a hit!

In July our Astronomy Manager Carol, was one of 8 social media experts chosen to travel to Chile to observe the total solar eclipse as a guest of the European Southern Observatory. She had a fantastic time and visited some of the most advanced observatories in the world. Her experiences are always passed on to the children in her planetarium shows. The highlight of her trip was visiting the VLT (Very Large Telescope) which is one of the most advanced arrays in the world and gave us the first image of an exoplanet.

Carol also travelled up to ALMA, a radio telescope array at 5000m above sea level in the Atacama desert,which was incredibly challenging.

Parties have been as popular as ever this year and we’re proud to be able to provide such wonderful birthday memories for children.

We’ve already got an action packed January ahead of us, with the planetarium being particularly popular. If you’re interested in booking one of our workshops/planetarium shows/parties then please visit and book online! Any questions, please email

We said goodbye to 2 members of staff this year, Lauren and Amanda and said a big hello to our new member of staff, Sarah!

We’d just like to take this opportunity to wish Lab Rascals Director Katie all the best as she heads off on maternity leave today! We can’t wait for the Lab Rascals baby!

Have a great Christmas everyone and see you in the New Year!

Katie, Carol, Anita and Sarah

The Lab Rascals Team xx


We’ve been doing a bit of work on the subject of Light this week. So, what exactly is light?

Light doesn’t just consist of the light we can see. Light is all around us even when it’s dark. The different parts of light can are all part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies (the spectrum) of electromagnetic radiation and their respective wavelengths and photon energies.

The electromagnetic spectrum covers electromagnetic waves with frequencies ranging from below one hertz to above 1025 hertz, corresponding to wavelengths from thousands of kilometers down to a fraction of the size of an atomic nucleus. This frequency range is divided into separate bands, and the electromagnetic waves within each frequency band are called by different names; beginning at the low frequency (long wavelength) end of the spectrum these are: radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays at the high-frequency (short wavelength) end. The electromagnetic waves in each of these bands have different characteristics, such as how they are produced, how they interact with matter, and their practical applications. Gamma rays and X-rays are classified as ionizing radiation as their photons have enough energy to ionize or remove electrons form an atom. These are in the upper end of the electromagnetic spectrum and have very high frequencies(in the range of 100 billion billion hertz) and very short wavelengths (1 million millionth of a metre).

Radiation in this range has high energy. It has enough energy to strip electrons from an atom or, in the case of very high-energy radiation, break up the nucleus of the atom.

Each ionisation releases energy that is absorbed by material surrounding the ionised atom. Ionising radiation deposits a large amount of energy into a small area. In fact, the energy from one ionisation is more than enough energy to disrupt the chemical bond between two carbon atoms. 

There are three main kinds of ionising radiation:

  • alpha particles, which include two protons and two neutrons
  • beta particles, which are essentially electrons
  • gamma rays and x-rays, which are pure energy (photons).

Alpha particles and beta particles are not part of the electromagnetic spectrum; they are energetic particles as opposed to pure energy bundles (photons).

Light can be created by making an electron oscillate, which creates an oscillating magnetic field and an oscillating electric field, which is an electromagnetic wave, or light.

The part of the electromagnetic spectrum we can see is Visible Light. Human eyes usually respond to wavelengths from 380 to 740 nanometers.

Different colours in the visible light spectrum have different wavelengths, with violet having the shortest wavelength and therefore the most energy and red having the longest wavelength and the least energy.

In 1666 Isaac newton proved that white light was made of the colours of the rainbow by shining light through a prism. When the white light was refracted it split into colours of the rainbow. He then passed it back through another prism where it reconstituted into white light again. He worked out that colour is a property of the light wave hitting it and not of the object itself. Can also demonstrate this by spinning a colour wheel, which will show the colours blending into white light.

Here’s how to make a colour wheel, otherwise known as Newton’s disc or a reverse rainbow!
White light passed through a prism defracts into the colours of the rainbow.

Although humans can only see the visible light spectrum , birds, bees and some animals can see ultra violet light, which makes plants particularly attractive to them.

Plants look even more beautiful to bees as they detect UV light

So how do we detect colour? The retina in our eyes contains cells called rods and cones that are sensitive to different colours of light.

And have you ever noticed you can’t see colour in the dark or in very dim light? That’s because the sensing rods and cones in your retina are both sensitive to light. The rods allow us to see in very dim light but cannot detect colour. The cones allow us to see colour but don’t work in dim light!

Newton observed that colour is not inherent in objects. Rather, the surface of an object reflects some colour and absorbs all the others. We perceive only the reflected colours. The colour an object appears depends on the colours of light it reflects.

E.g. A red book only reflects red light.

Here’s a great video explaining this

Vid by Edmund Scientific

Because we can’t see in different wavelengths, it’s usual to have instruments that can. An example of this is telescopes. Telescopes in different wavelengths allow us to see things in space that we wouldn’t usually be able to. This is a pic of the sun taken with telescopes of different wavelengths, each one allowing us to see different aspects of the sun.

So obviously we’re all now thinking how cool it would be if we could see in different wavelengths! Well, if we could see radio waves, we’d constantly be bombarded with light from all directions, as our smartphones, pcs, TVs and satellites in space all emit radio waves!

X-ray vision sounds cool though right? Well yeah, if you like looking at people’s bones.

Microwaves? We’d have light shooting at us from all directions as we see the afterglow from the big bang! Our brains would have a hard time processing that!

Cosmic Microwave background

If you’re a teacher and looking at Light with your class, book one of our light workshops!

Have a great weekend!

Katie, Carol, Anita and Sarah

The Lab Rascals Team xx

Holiday workshops!

We’ve had a busy 2 weeks delivering half term holiday workshops in Grimsby, Barton, Brough and Cottingham. Our themes this holiday were dry ice and slime.

We can have lots of fun with these themes, especially over Halloween! Lots of potion and bubble making! The holiday workshops were 1.5 hours long but full of experiments to keep the childen entertained!

Slime is as popular as ever! And goes very well with the Halloween theme! Have you ever managed to make a bubble this big with your slime?

We’re back in schools this week, delivering more wind energy and states of matter workshops!

Have a good rest of your weekend!

Katie, Carol, Anita and Sarah

The Lab Rascals Team xx

Spooky Science!

It’s Halloween this week and we’ll be busy delivering spooky dry ice and slime workshops in Cottingham and Brough and a library in Doncaster. There are still a few places left, so book now, using the link below.

If you fancy having a go at some spooky science experiments yourself at home, here’s a few simple ones to start you off!

Dancing Ghosts

For the experiment you’ll need:

  • A piece of tissue paper
  • A balloon
  • Scissors
  • A head of hair 

Cut out some ghost shapes around 1.5 inches long then lay them flat on the table. Blow up a balloon and rub it on your hair vigorously. Then hold the balloon over the ghosts and watch them dance.

How does it work?

When you rub the balloon through your hair you create a build up of invisible electrons. The electrons have the power to pull very light objects toward them, which in this case is the tissue ghost! 

Fizzy Pumpkin Patch

This experiment is brilliant for toddlers!


Baking Soda
Dish Soap
Food Coloring {Green}

Shallow Container
Squeeze Bottles
Small Pumpkins

Set Up:

In the shallow dish, place small drops of dish soap a few inches apart. Then place tiny drops of food coloring in each drop. Cover the tray with the baking soda until you can’t see the drops any more.

Fill the squeeze bottles halfway with vinegar and you are ready to go. With each squirt your toddler will be amazed at the fizz.

Add the pumpkins and you’ve made your own fizzy pumpkin patch!

And now for the science!

This is a simple but effective experiment demonstrating the reaction between a base and an acid. In this case the base is the baking soda and the acid is the vinegar.

Hydrogen ions in the vinegar react with the sodium and bicarbonate ions in the baking soda. The result of this initial reaction is two new chemicals: carbonic acid and sodium acetate.

The second reaction is a decomposition reaction. The carbonic acid formed as a result of the first reaction immediately begins to decompose into water and carbon dioxide gas, which creates those fizzy bubbles!

Bubbling Pumpkin Bombs

What you need:

Baking powder

  • Cornflour
  • Vinegar
  • Zip-lock bags
  • Food colouring
  • Black marker pen
  • Toilet paper
  • Start by drawing jack-o-lantern and ghost faces onto zip-seal bags.  
  • We used a permanent marker and sandwich-size bags.  Larger bags will also work; you will just need more of the active ingredients.

Once the marker on the bags is dry you can either fill them all in advance with the vinegar or fill them outside as you go.  

  • You want to fill each bag roughly 1/3 of the way with vinegar.  
  • Add 2-3 teaspoons of cornflour to each bag.
  • You will also want to add orange food coloring to the pumpkin bags.
  • Then, tightly seal the bags and mix the ingredients until combined.
  • For each bag you will need to make a baking soda bomb.  To do this place baking soda in the middle of a square of toilet paper, and then fold the paper into a ball.
  • You will want to let off one “Boo” or pumpkin at a time.  
  • Seal the bag almost all the way, leaving just enough room to place a baking soda bomb in.
  • Do not let the bomb go until you have sealed the bag all the way.
  • Double check to make sure the zipper is fully sealed.
  • Then, drop the baking soda bomb, give the bag a quick shake, and set it down.  
  • The bag will fill with pressure until it POPS & explodes, sending colorful bubbles flying!
Taken from

Blobby Lava Lamp

What you need:

  • A 1 litre empty plastic drinks bottle
  • 3/4 cups of water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Alka Seltzer
  • Green or red food colouring

Pour the water into the bottle.

Pour the vegetable oil slowly into the bottle until it’s almost full. You may have to wait a few minutes for the oil and water to separate.

Add 10 drops of food colouring to the bottle. The drops will pass through the oil and then mix with the water below.

Break an Alka Seltzer tablet in half and drop the half tablet into the bottle. It will sink to the bottom and you can watch the blobs start to form!

Add another half tablet once the effect dies down

Taken from

Have a great Halloween and enjoy experimenting!

Katie, Carol, Sarah and Anita

The Lab Rascals Team xx

How big is space?

Hull Libraries run a scheme every year over the summer holidays, aiming to get more children reading for pleasure. This year’s theme was SPACE! So we were honoured to be asked to launch their reading scheme with a day of planetarium shows on July 20th. It was also the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, so we delivered a full day of our planetarium show “One Giant Leap” which was extremely successful.

As a follow on to that we were honoured to be invited to give a talk at the reading scheme celebration event. The children who complete the reading scheme are invited to Hull City Hall for an afternoon of events.

We had to come up with a talk that would entertain children and adults from 5 years upwards on the subject of “space”, which is a really big subject!! So we decided to talk about “How big is space?”

The key to science communication is to make a subject understandable and enjoyable for your audience and that’s a challenge when your audience is so diverse. But we love a challenge!

We thoroughly enjoyed putting this show together! It was a little different to anything we’d done before! We’re used to talking about space under a dome of stars. Having stage lights pointed at us was a whole different experience.

Also performing on the day was the author of the Horrible Science books, Nick Arnold. Following Nick was a little daunting as he wowed the children with his experiments, stories and he had his own theme tune. *I need a theme tune*

And the compere for the event was actor Finley McGuigan, who did an amazing job of keeping everything running smoothly and storytelling!

Then it was my turn…

I started by looking at our own solar system and we worked out how far apart the planets are, using volunteers from the audience. We managed to fit the whole solar system in the City Hall auditorium but worked out that the next star would be at Buckingham Palace. I even had a volunteer to walk that far!

We then looked at the milky way and how our solar system is a tiny part of the galaxy.

I love the Hubble Deep Field image so I used this to illustrate the vastness of space even further. There are over 10,000 galaxies in this one image.

After the main event I had some meteorites to show the children, some of which were kindly loaned to me by author Stuart Atkinson. I also have a small collection, which includes tiny pieces of Mars and moon meteorites. The children were amazed that these were rocks that had fallen from space, as they held them in their hands.

Thanks for asking us to take part in your reading scheme this year Hull Libraries! We truly have had a blast!

We couldn’t take any photos ourselves of the event. All photos in the blog are taken by photographer Jerome Whittingham.

Have a great rest of your weekend!

Katie, Carol, Anita and Sarah

The Lab Rascals Team xx

Wales Rally GB

We do love a good public event! We especially love the GB rally, which we have attended for the last 3 years. This year’s event was in Llandudno in Wales.

Wales Rally GB is a stage rally motor sport event and, in 2019, was the 12th round of the World Rally Championship. The event takes place over four days of competition and each day is divided into a number of ‘Special Stages’ which are when the drivers race against the clock for the fastest time. For the rest of the event they have to follow a pre-set schedule on normal public roads to get them to the next check point on time.

Branded as Wales Rally GB since 2003 when the Welsh Government became the principal funding partner, the rally is based out of a central Rally Village with competitive stages throughout north and mid Wales.

Wales Rally GB is organised and promoted by Motorsport UK.

We were invited to provide science entertainment for the school days on Thursday and Friday and also for the general public on the Friday night and Saturday. We were straight into the school days as soon as we arrived and we were incredibly busy making slime and encouraging the children to take part in our dry ice experiments. Slime is always extremely popular and it wasn’t long before we had a queue of around 40 children waiting to make their own slime. Even though it was pretty hectic we made sure we were explaining the science of slime making, so the children are learning, whilst having lots of fun!

Dry ice experiments are also always really popular as we encourage the children to add the dry ice into hot water and universal indicator and tell us what they discover. Dry ice experiments always look impressive! Especially when we add bubbles!

We always have a blast at public events but it’s always incredibly hard work! Seeing the children’s excited faces makes it worthwhile though!

Have a great weekend!

Love Katie, Carol, Anita and Sarah

The Lab Rascals team xxx

The Science of Bath Bombs!

Everyone loves a good bath bomb!  They’re fizzy, colourful and make your bath feel extra special! But did you know there’s some cool science going on as you drop that ball of fizz into your bath? This week we’ve been delivering our bath bomb workshop in Hull, Beverley and Scunthorpe.

Making bath bombs is all about acids and alkalines. Our workshops are aimed at ages 5+ so this is quite a complex topic for the young children but we demonstrate how we can identify acids and alkalis, using substances they recognise and they’re always fascinated.

The acid and alkali combination is what makes that fantastic fizz as you drop the bath bomb into the water. The acid we use is citric acid and our alkaline is sodium bicarbonate. The combination of these 2 ingredients added to water causes a chemical reaction, and gives us that fizz!

But what is citric acid? It’s a relatively weak acid that comes from citrus fruits; lemons, limes and oranges. It’s also added to the outside of fizzy sweets to give them that slightly sour, taste!

Sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking powder is a weak alkaline. If these ingredients are mixed together and then added to water a chemical reaction occurs. The acid and alkaline neutralize the effects of each other. A process called neutralization! Carbon dioxide is formed and this creates rapidly forming bubbles, which is where that fizz comes from! Before the children make the bath bombs we demonstrate this by adding the ingredients to a balloon and watching the carbon dioxide inflate the balloon.

During our workshop the children make 2 bath bombs with a choice of colours and fragrances! The most popular fragrance this week has to be bubblegum! They actually look forward to going home and having a bath!

Thanks to everyone who attended our workshops this week! Next week we have a mixture of volcanoes and slime workshops! See you there!

Have a great weekend!

Katie, Carol, James, Lauren and Anita

The Lab Rascals Team xxx

Holiday time!!

Our summer holiday workshops are now in full swing! This week we’ve been delivering workshops on volcanoes in Hull and Dry Ice in Beverley. We aim to make our science workshops fun and fully hands-on as we believe children learn better through  play and interactivity. 

The volcanoes workshop is great fun and involves a bit of creativity. We start by finding out what children know about volcanoes and then we discuss the different types of volcanoes on Earth and on other planets and moons. Children are always amazed at the idea of cryovolanoes! They then get to build and design their own volcano! We love the fact that parents always get involved! It sometimes gets very competitive! 

Then it’s time to erupt the volcanoes! We use dry ice and hot water to erupt ours. It looks great and has the added bonus of creating a rumble effect, like an earthquake! We then add in a bit of washing up liquid to create bubble lava, which always gets a big “WOAH”!!

This workshop is also popular in schools when children are studying volcanoes as a topic. More details on our website

Today we’ve been at the Parks Children’s centre in Hull providing science fun at a family fun day! We made UV bracelets, slime and provided dry ice experiments. We were incredibly busy with slime being extremely popular as usual.

On Friday we’ll be in Flemingate, Beverley with our dry ice workshop. This is really a lesson on the states of matter, but the children have so much fun with the hands-on experiments they don’t realise they’re learning a fairly complex topic. We have a number of experiments that the children complete themselves after a health and safety briefing. There are always lots of “WOW”moments. 

We’ve got lots more holiday workshops to come over the next couple of weeks in Hull, Beverley and Scunthorpe, including bath bombs, slime, volcanoes and planetarium! Book now to avoid disappointment!

All of our workshops are available to book for schools. Have a look at our website for more details!

Have a great weekend!

Katie, Carol, Lauren, James and Anita

The Lab Rascals Team xx

Space Volcanoes!

We’ve been delivering some workshop for Public Libraries in Hull over the summer, on volcanoes of the solar system, in keeping with their reading scheme space theme. But how different can volcanoes actually be? The answer is, very! But the mechanism causing them to erupt is basically the same. It’s all about pressure building under the surface. That pressure has to balance and release somewhere. That’s when a volcanic eruption occurs.

Active volcanoes are those which are currently erupting or have erupted in human history. We mainly use this term in regards to volcanoes on Earth, but the most active place in our solar system is one of Jupiter’s moons. Io is the innermost of Jupiter’s moons and is a little larger than our moon, with a radius of 1,131 miles. It has over 400 active volcanoes on its surface, produced by the gravitational pull of Jupiter creating tidal heating inside Io. This means that Io is being pushed and pulled by Jupiter, which causes friction deep inside the moon and creates this volcanic activity. Although Io has an icy surface, lava erupts hundreds of miles above the surface due to this tidal heating and low gravity.

Composite pic of images taken by Voyager 1 showing Io erupting hundreds of miles above the surface.

Back to volcanoes on Earth. They erupt lava. They can occur on the surface of the Earth and also under the sea. Imagine that the Earth’s crust is a bit like a cracked eggshell. The pieces of the eggshell are the tectonic plates. Hotspots sometimes occur in the middle of the Earth’s tectonic plates and cause eruptions on the seabed with the lava cooling to rock. The hotspot itself is fixed but the plates move, sometimes creating a series of islands, like Hawaii!

Further out in the solar system where temperatures are extremely cold, a different kind of volcano occurs. Ice volcanoes. In the far reaches of the solar system on Pluto, where the temperatures are around -200 degrees C, ice volcanoes exist. Otherwise known as cryovolcanoes these icy giants tower around 3500 m above the surface of Pluto.

Pluto as imaged by the New Horizons spacecraft, showing an area of possible cryovolcanoes (Image credit: NASA)

Although we have no observations of cryovolcanoes erupting on Pluto, there is evidence to suggest that it could possibly be geologically active. So how do volcanoes erupt ice? Well, we’re not 100% sure but imagine geological activity inside bodies like Pluto have warmed the frozen surface into a Slush Puppy! The moving ice sheets grind together inside and expel this above the surface as a cryovolcano! Unfortunately our observations of Pluto were very brief as the New Horizons spacecraft whizzed by in 2015, so we didn’t actually see any eruptions! We saw the very first cryovolcano on Neptune’s moon Triton as Voyager 2 flew by in 1989.

Triton as imaged by Voyager 2 (Credit: NASA)

So Earth isn’t the only body of our solar system with volcanoes! We’ve also seen evidence of past volcanism on Mars, Venus and our very own moon! And the children in our workshops love learning about the different volcano types and designing their own!

If you haven’t managed to book onto the library sessions then we have spaces available on our own workshops (including volcanoes) in Hull, Scunthorpe and Beverley. Book online now!

Have a great weekend!

Katies, Carol, Anita and Lauren

The Lab Rascals Team xx

Apollo 50

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

On July 20th, 1969 at 2117 UK time, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, making them the first humans to ever land on another world. The world watched as Armstrong took his first step onto the moon and Aldrin followed, while Michael Collins flew the command and service modules in orbit around the moon.

This momentous event was the culmination of over a decade of hard work by over 400,000 people. 530 million people watched around the world.

But this was 50 years ago! Not everyone can remember the moon landings themselves and a lot of the children we work with, don’t even know that they happened. So our Astronomy manager created a planetarium show to commemorate the anniversary of the moon landings. We’ve had a busy week taking the show into schools, including Stepney Primary, where the whole school watched the show. This show was designed for KS2 and older children but we managed to adapt it so the children in the nursery and reception could enjoy it too. It was hugely successful! Over 180 children experiencing the moon landing in 1 day!

Tomorrow, on the day of the anniversary, we will be helping Hull Libraries to launch their reading scheme. This year the scheme has a space theme and we will be performing our show all day! We’re honoured to be able to perform these sold-out shows to a public audience on such an important day! See you there?

Have a great weekend! Keep looking up!

Katie, Carol, Lauren and Anita

The Lab Rascals Team xx