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!

https://bookwhen.com/labrascals#focus=ev-sbaw-20190807100000

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

Chile adventure!

We’ve had a busy few weeks doing lots of planning! The summer holidays are creeping up fast and we have lots of exciting workshops planned, including public showings of our new planetarium show “One Giant Leap”. Details of workshops are here https://bookwhen.com/labrascals#focus=ev-sbaw-20190807100000

Our Astronomy Manager, Cosmic Carol is getting ready to jet off to the Atacama Desert in Chile next week after winning a place on the European Southern Observatory social media team for the total solar eclipse. She’ll spend 7 days in the Atacama Desert, visiting various observatories and posting about it on social media. You can follow her on Twitter @Cosmic_Carol

She’ll be watching the solar eclipse on 2nd July from La Silla. The La Silla Observatory is located on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres. Like other observatories in this geographical area, La Silla is located far from sources of light pollution and, like the Paranal Observatory, home to the Very Large Telescope, it has one of the darkest night skies on the Earth. La Silla has been an ESO stronghold since the 1960s. Here, ESO operates two of the most productive 4-metre class telescopes in the world.

She will also visit the VLT (very large telescope) based at the Paranal Observatory, famous for being blown up in Quantum of Solace.

https://www.hq.eso.org/public/teles-instr/paranal-observatory/vlt/

And will also visit ALMA . A state-of-the-art telescope to study light with wavelengths of about one millimetre, shining from some of the coldest objects in the Universe, ALMA is a cooperation of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), together with its international partners. The site of ALMA is the 5000-m altitude Chajnantor plateau in northern Chile, one of the driest places on Earth.

If you’re a teacher and you’d like Carol to come into school and talk about her experiences in Chile, send us and email on labrascals1@gmail.com.

Have a great weekend!

Katie, Carol, Lauren and Anita

The Lab Rascals team xxx

Half Term Science Fun

It’s been half term for most schools in East Yorkshire and North East Lincolnshire this week! But there’s no rest for us! We’ve been out and about delivering science workshops!

On Wednesday we were based at Burnby Halls and Gardens for their Community Day. After the terrible weather at the beginning of the week we were happy to see the sun shining!

Burnby Hall belonged to Percy and Katherine Stewart. Between 1906 and 1926, Percy and Katharine completed eight world tours, covering North America and Canada, Africa, India and the Far East, Europe, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands with Percy using his trips to hunt, shoot and fish. He and Katharine brought back souvenirs and trophies which now form the Stewart Museum collection. These are an eclectic mix of statuary, hunting trophies and curiosities.

Katharine died in April 1939 and Percy remained at Burnby Hall for the remainder of his life. He lived until the grand old age of 90, assisted in later life by his faithful housekeeper Miss Tibbott.

Both he and Katharine had no children and decided to leave the estate in trust to the people of Pocklington when they died.

On his death in 1962, these wishes were complied with and the Stewart Trust, established in 1964 was set up to run Burnby Hall Gardens and to administer the Stewart Museum collection.

The gardens feature 2 lakes which hold a national collection of Waterlilies

So it was a stunning location for delivering our slime workshops! We delivered 2 workshops throughout the day, both being fully booked really early in the day! The children made 2 different kinds of slime and learnt the science behind the slime. Everyone had a great time and we had some lovely feedback from the parents.

On Thursday we travelled to Scunthorpe to the Engineering University Technical College, where they hosted a Primary Lego STEM event, for Year 5 pupils. We delivered our LEGO wind energy workshop to a really enthusiastic group of children! They had excellent LEGO building skills and worked really well together in teams.

This was a really successful workshop. All the children really enjoyed it! And so did we!

We’ve spent the rest of the week working on a new Astronomy course we’re putting together, to be delivered in our planetarium. Watch this space!! (see what I did there?)

Have a great weekend!

Katie, Carol, Anita and Lauren

The Lab Rascals Team xx

Practise makes perfect!

We’ve been out and about with the planetarium again this week! We’ve had a student working on a planetarium project for the last few months. She designed a show about Earth, which she then presented at Healing Primary on Tuesday. The children in KS1 loved the show. They learnt about the weather, seasons and took a trip around the world.

We also had a practice run of our brand new planetarium show, One Giant Leap, with Healing Primary year 5 and 6. We think it’s really important to have a day of practice before a new planetarium show is launched for a number of reasons. Working on a show on a pc screen does not replicate what it will look like in the planetarium dome. So a test of the visuals is essential. Also, as with any interactive performance you really can’t judge how interactive it will be until you actually perform it, which then results in timing changes and parts being removed etc. This was also the first time we’d used sound for a planetarium show and we had a few technical issues with the speaker, which we could then fix during the practice shows.

We performed the show 4 times throughout the day and by the end of the day were really happy with the show. We aim to make the children think and I think we succeeded as they had some amazing questions afterwards. And we got some great feedback from the children.

Next up, we’re developing a show on “Volcanoes of the solar system”

If you’d like to book any of our planetarium shows go to http://www.labrascals.co.uk and book online or contact labrascals1@gmail.com

Have a good weekend!

Katie, Carol, Amanda, Lauren and Anita

The Lab Rascals Team

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 https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/labrascals.home.blog/42

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 http://www.labrascals.co.uk

Have a good weekend!

The Lab Rascals Team

Katie, Carol, Anita, Lauren and Amanda xx