Light

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 http://wmap.gsfc.nasa.gov/media/101080

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

http://www.labrascals.co.uk/

Have a great weekend!

Katie, Carol, Anita and Sarah

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

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

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

British Science Week 2019!

British Science Week, formerly known as the National Science & Engineering Week is a 10-day long science “feast” around the UK and the nation’s largest science celebration of its kind. The name was changed into British Science Week for two reasons. The first was for the event to reflect the organiser’s broad understanding of science which also includes social sciences, maths, technology and engineering. And the second reason was because the addition of “engineering” excluded other scientific fields, especially social sciences which are a part of science as well. British Science Week is one of our busiest weeks of the year! This week was no exception and we have been busy entertaining children in schools with science!

We started our week in Doncaster with 8 Planetarium shows. 200 children were treated to a tour of the solar system and they had some amazing questions about how our solar system began!

Pic courtesy of Grange Lane Infant Academy

Tuesday saw us heading off to Beeford for a full day of workshops on the states of matter with Beeford and North Frodingham primary schools. The kids loved seeing what happens to the marshmallows in the vacuum chamber and doing their own experiments with dry ice! We all had a great time!

Today we headed to Kidgate Primary Academy in Louth for a day of Polymer workshops with KS1. They loved making slime!

Pic courtesy of Kidgate Primary School

Tomorrow we’re taking the planetarium to Griffin Academy in Hull, where we will be taking 2 classes on a tour of the solar system!

Busy busy!

Katie, Carol, Amanda, Lauren and Anita xx

The Lab Rascals Team

http://www.labrascals.com

Welcome!

Featured

Welcome to the shiny new Lab Rascals blog! We’re going to be sharing lots of our exciting events and activities on here. But first, a little bit about ourselves.

We are an award winning interactive science entertainment company in Yorkshire and the Humber. We educate, inspire and entertain children with the magnificent world of science and engineering.

Due to our extensive research at the University of Hull into children’s perceptions of science we leave all the “flashes and bangs” in the Lab bring only the most enjoyable and engaging hands on experimentation into your home, village hall or classroom.

Since Lab Rascals was established in 2012 we have has a tremendous amount of support from parents, children, teachers and local companies. It’s fantastic to see how so many children and adults have become passionate about science over the past years. Several children have attended our workshops since early days and continue to do so. Thank you for your support.

From dry ice and slime parties in your choice of venue…

To school workshops…

And public events…

We’re out of this world!

We look forward to sharing our adventures with you!

Katie, Carol, Amanda, Anita and Lauren

The Lab Rascals Team xx