10 ways to get children thinking about science while they play from series 1 of ExpeRimental

You can watch the full videos and download worksheets and certificates for all of these activities on the ExpeRimental website.

By simply asking lots of questions and encouraging children to look closely at the world around them, you can introduce them to the wonderful world of science.

The Ames Room

The distorted room was named after ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, who invented the optical illusion in 1934. The floor, ceiling and side walls of the room are trapezoidal in shape but when viewed from a specific fixed point it appears to be rectangular.

We built this for the 2011 Christmas Lectures. See it in action in this clip from the lectures, or hear Andy talk about making it here.

Vacuum. Bazooka. Vacuum bazooka!

In the spirit of recycling, why buy a brand new bazooka when you can fashion one out of everyday household items?

The vacuum bazooka is a classic piece of science demo kit. Our friend Dave Ansell wasn’t satisfied with the standard model, though. Here’s how he supercharged his for a far more rewarding vacuum bazooka experience.

Watch the full video on the Ri Channel.

Drawings from Pettigrew:
Fig. 1 - Gold plate found upon the tongue of a mummy
Fig. 2 - The outer bandages as they appeared on Dr. Lee’s mummy, showing also the position of the leather Amulet over the heart
Fig. 3 - The second layer of bandages 
Fig. 4 - Sycamore Sarcophagus which contained Dr. Perry’s mummy
Fig. 5 - Peruvian mummy at the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons
 from ‘A History of Egyptian Mummies' by Thomas Pettigrew, 1834
Royal Institution Rare Book Collection

Drawings from Pettigrew:

  • Fig. 1 - Gold plate found upon the tongue of a mummy
  • Fig. 2 - The outer bandages as they appeared on Dr. Lee’s mummy, showing also the position of the leather Amulet over the heart
  • Fig. 3 - The second layer of bandages 
  • Fig. 4 - Sycamore Sarcophagus which contained Dr. Perry’s mummy
  • Fig. 5 - Peruvian mummy at the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons

 from ‘A History of Egyptian Mummies' by Thomas Pettigrew, 1834

Royal Institution Rare Book Collection

Pettigrew Mummy
This illustration shows the whole length view of a Graeco-Egyptian mummy, unrolled 6 April 1833 and showing the areas of the body which still held the original gilding.
This mummy was contained within Pettigrew’s own collection.
A History of Egyptian Mummies by Thomas Pettigrew, 1834
Royal Institution Rare Book Collection

Pettigrew Mummy

This illustration shows the whole length view of a Graeco-Egyptian mummy, unrolled 6 April 1833 and showing the areas of the body which still held the original gilding.

This mummy was contained within Pettigrew’s own collection.

A History of Egyptian Mummies by Thomas Pettigrew, 1834

Royal Institution Rare Book Collection

Inner case of Dr. Lee’s mummy
Pettigrew writes:
The ornamental details on the upper side of the figure are arranged in compartments with a line of hieroglyphics down the centre. On the breast immediately below the necklace are the winged globe and asps, the emblems of the god Hat or Agathodaemon. The upper compartments contain, on the right, two of the genii of Amenti, Hapi, and Smof, standing before an asp, crowned with the cap of the upper country and on the opposite side the other two, Amest and the hawk-headed Kebhnsnof. In the next are represented two winged asps; and in the lowest is on one side a jackal-headed and in the other a hawk-headed figure with the ostrich feather of Truth. The line  of hieroglyphics contains the usual formula for funeral inscriptions, ans as far as the sense can be ascertained, it signifies:

 ’This is a (royal?) chosen gift to Re Atmoo, Lord of the two regions of Phut (or the Libyan side of the Nile), Pthah Sokari Osiris, Lord of the sacred place, the manifester of good, king of the gods, the great Re, Lord of heaven. Give chosen offerings of incense for Osiris, the lady of the house, priestess of the (sacred abode?) TAN’NOFRE, deceased’.

 from ‘A History of Egyptian Mummies' by Thomas Pettigrew, 1834
Royal Institution Rare Book Collection

Inner case of Dr. Lee’s mummy

Pettigrew writes:

The ornamental details on the upper side of the figure are arranged in compartments with a line of hieroglyphics down the centre. On the breast immediately below the necklace are the winged globe and asps, the emblems of the god Hat or Agathodaemon. The upper compartments contain, on the right, two of the genii of Amenti, Hapi, and Smof, standing before an asp, crowned with the cap of the upper country and on the opposite side the other two, Amest and the hawk-headed Kebhnsnof. In the next are represented two winged asps; and in the lowest is on one side a jackal-headed and in the other a hawk-headed figure with the ostrich feather of Truth. The line  of hieroglyphics contains the usual formula for funeral inscriptions, ans as far as the sense can be ascertained, it signifies:

 ’This is a (royal?) chosen gift to Re Atmoo, Lord of the two regions of Phut (or the Libyan side of the Nile), Pthah Sokari Osiris, Lord of the sacred place, the manifester of good, king of the gods, the great Re, Lord of heaven. Give chosen offerings of incense for Osiris, the lady of the house, priestess of the (sacred abode?) TAN’NOFRE, deceased’.

 from ‘A History of Egyptian Mummies' by Thomas Pettigrew, 1834

Royal Institution Rare Book Collection

Some weekend watching from the folks at Minute Earth:

Are there better ways to approach fencing off our human environment? Fences designed from a human point of view can often prove to be no barrier at all for predators and pests.

This video shows how seeing the world from an animal’s point of view could help us to design intelligent fences for our homes and farms. For example, East Africans are using the humble bee to ward off the most enormous of pests, scientists in the US are investigating making fences from wolf pee, and in scientists in Hawaii made a fence to keep out a virus. These examples show how considering the biology of an environment can inspire intelligent design to solve age-old problems.

This video was featured as a ‘best of the web’ on the Ri Channel - if you like science videos, check it out.

A copy of a portrait placed upon the bandages of a mummy found at the British Museum. The portrait was painted on a thin plate of cedar-wood and at the time of its publication in 1834, presented the earliest known image of an Egyptian.
from ‘A History of Egyptian Mummies’ by Thomas Pettigrew, 1834
Royal Institution Rare Book Collection

A copy of a portrait placed upon the bandages of a mummy found at the British Museum. The portrait was painted on a thin plate of cedar-wood and at the time of its publication in 1834, presented the earliest known image of an Egyptian.

from ‘A History of Egyptian Mummies by Thomas Pettigrew, 1834

Royal Institution Rare Book Collection