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

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

Greenpower Hull Street Race

Last Sunday we had the pleasure of attending the Greenpower Hull Street Race, providing science outreach on behalf of Siemens Gamesa.

We have been working with Siemens Gamesa in schools delivering workshops on wind energy, which have been very successful. You can read more about that here

So we were delighted to be asked to work with them at the Greenpower street race in Hull, providing outreach relating to green energy. But first of all, what exactly is the Greenpower street race? It’s run by a charity, Greenpower Education Trust,
which gets young people enthusiastic about STEM subjects by challenging them to design, build, and race an electric car. They provide a basic, age appropriate kit car, which the young people then build onto. This is an international initiative, which culminates in a final in the UK. Last year we helped Healing Primary School in Grimsby build their car.

Healing Primary building their Greenpower car in 2018, sponsored by e.on

Students aged 9 – 25 can take part in the initiative, with older students building their own cars to exact specifications. More than 10,000 students take part each year, from primary school age through to university. According to their website, Greenpower is helping to address the engineering skills gap. The Royal Academy of Engineering estimates that the UK needs 104,000 STEM graduates per year and 56,000 technicians, between now and 2020.

So we were tasked with providing outreach for Siemens Gamesa related to green energy. In schools we would use LEGO to build a wind turbine to demonstrate wind energy but that wasn’t really possible at a public event. So we used dry ice to demonstrate how carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels is damaging our oceans through ocean acidification. This is a huge problem. The combustion of fossil fuels and other human activities have led to a flux of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Hannes Grobe 21:52, 12 August 2006 (UTC), Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany

According to NOAA, about 30% of this is absorbed by the oceans. The carbon dioxide mixes with the water creating carbonic acid, leading to a decrease in the pH of our oceans, meaning they are becoming more acidic. This is having a devastating effect on marine life. Calcium carbonate minerals are building blocks for skeletons and shells of marine organisms. Ocean acidification is causing areas of the oceans to become undersaturated with these minerals. The lack of these minerals is reducing the ability of some organisms to produce and maintain their shells. This affects sea life such as lobsters, crabs, mussels and also coral reefs. Fish are also unable to communicate effectively through water where pH is decreasing and water is becoming more acidic.

The children and adults who visited our stall on Sunday really enjoyed taking part in the experiment and we could directly link this to the work that Siemens Gamesa do in Hull, constructing wind turbine blades.

We even had a visit from ex-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott who was very impressed with our experiment and our engagement with children on the subject of green energy. We even persuaded him to do the experiment himself.

For a bit of fun, and a lesson on sublimation we also did some self inflating balloons and UV bracelets, as part of the green energy topic.

We had an excellent day and even got chance to watch some of the racing!

Have a good weekend!

Katie, Carol, Lauren, Anita, Amanda

The Lab Rascals Team xxx

One Giant Leap

20th July, 1969. Neil Armstrong uttered his famous words “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he became the first human to step foot on another world.

This was 7 years before I was born, but my dad passed on his enthusiasm about space to me. I remember clearing out the understairs cupboard, turning it into a spaceship and drawing maps of the planets and stars. Space and astronomy have always been a hobby for me. But now I’m lucky enough to be able to share my love of space as a job.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, I have designed and produced a brand new planetarium show “One Giant Leap”. My aim was to design a show that brings alive the moon landings, for children who may not know that they happened. But this isn’t just a show for children. Adults will love it too! Whether you remember the moon landings or not, standing on the surface of the moon with Neil and Buzz is a great experience.

But it’s not just about the history of the moon landings. What have we achieved since? Where will we go in the future? This is a fully immersive show with some great surprises!

I’m lucky enough to have travelled the world attending rocket launches. But this show is something I’m incredibly proud of. And 8 year old me would be proud too.

So, BOOK NOW for your school or organisation. Or book to attend one of our summer school holiday sessions in Hull, Beverley, Grimsby or Scunthorpe. You can do this all online at

Have a good weekend!

The Lab Rascals Team

Katie, Carol, Anita, Lauren and Amanda xx

Wind Energy

We love Lego, here at Lab Rascals! So we were ecstatic to be able to put it to educational use in our workshops. We are in the unique position of being able to teach science in schools in a fun way, so we were delighted to receive sponsorship from EON and Siemens to deliver wind energy workshops in schools in North Lincolnshire and Hull. Both these companies are big wind energy employers in the local area so we could really see the importance of promoting renewable energy sources and how the local area contributes to this.

We received funding to deliver 1 workshop each to 10 low income schools. Siemens workshops were offered to schools in Hull and EON workshops were offered to schools in North Lincolnshire. They were all snapped up instantly!

We begin the workshops by asking the children what they already know about wind energy and wind turbines, and then explain exactly how a wind turbine works. We have a large piece of turbine cable which we let them pass round. They’re always really surprised at how thick it is!

They are split into groups of 3 and then the building begins! We use LEGO Education Renewable Energy add-on kits, and they build a wind turbine tower, the blades and nacelle and a lego car. Some children are a whizz with lego and can build their part really quickly, others need a little help! Luckily we usually have help from Siemens and EON employees, and I’m sure they love it as much as the children do!

Once the turbines and car have been built we attached batteries to the turbine ask the children to find out how we get the most energy from the turbines by using desktop fans on different speed settings and using different numbers of blades. We then use that information to power our Lego cars.

These half day workshops are such good fun and allow the children to learn about important topics like renewable energy in a fun and engaging way! Watch this space for details of more wind energy workshops soon!!

Katie, Carol, Amanda, Lauren, Anita

The Lab Rascals Team xx