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

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

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

Easter science fun!

It’s Easter weekend and we’ve reached the end of our Easter holiday workshops! We run science workshops most school holidays and they are very popular with children and parents alike!

We deliver a different set of workshops each holidays. This time we covered dry ice, slime, planetarium and volcanoes! So plenty to choose from for everyone! Each workshop lasted an hour in different locations; Hull, Beverley, Scunthorpe and Grimsby.

Although our science workshops are very educational, we make this fun and this is our primary aim in holiday workshops, children have fun while learning.

So what do we do in each workshop?

Dry ice

We love dry ice! It can make simple experiments look dramatic! We use dry ice to demonstrate the states of matter and the children love getting hands on with the experiments.

Slime!

All children love slime and we don’t just make slime, we teach them the science behind the slime! This is still one of our most popular workshops and the children particularly love blowing bubbles with their slime!

Volcanoes!

The children learn what volcanoes are and make their own! We always get some very creative volcano designs, which are then erupted using dry ice! There’s lots of teamwork and creative design involved in this workshop and we love seeing the children work together to create some amazing looking volcanoes!

We also did a number of planetarium shows at all locations. These were extremely popular as usual! This time the children learned all about stars, what they’re made of, how they’re formed, what a nebula is and the planets that orbit our star, the sun. This show is brilliant for younger children as it involves lots of looking at the stars and storytelling.

Not only have we been delivering public workshops, we also delivered some workshops on dry ice for Hull Children’s University.

Our brand new planetarium show One Giant Leap is now ready to go into schools! We’ve been working hard to make it a real celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing! Contact us for details or book on our website for schools and public events! http://www.labrascals.co.uk

Happy Easter from all of us at Lab Rascals!

Katie, Carol, Anita, Amanda and Lauren xx