On Thursday 3 May, five eager Year 6 scientists ventured to The Royal Institute of Science in London for the inaugural GDST Junior Science conference.
The first thing we did was to learn about chromosomes. There are 46 chromosomes in your body (23 pairs). We twisted two pipe cleaners together, each colour representing our mum or dad. Next, we threaded Hamma beads on each side of the pipe cleaners. They were different colours depending on our genes, e.g. if you had dark hair you would put a black bead, and if you had blonde hair the bead would be yellow. One of the beads represented your earlobe; if it was attached you would put a purple bead, but if it was detached it would be a pink bead. They don’t know why they are different because they each do the same thing.
After making our own chromosomes, we went into The Theatre to have a 15-minute explanation on the history of the RI. The Royal Institute was founded in 1799, and the purpose was for scientists to share new inventions and scientific theories through big conferences. Although the purpose of the RI was conferences, many scientists came to study, like Humphry Davy, who discovered nine chemical elements while at the RI! Then came John Tyndal, who designed the greenhouse and worked out how it helped our plants to grow. James Dewar came along and invented the first flask. We actually saw the first flask on exhibit in the museum. Every year (at Christmas) a famous person gives a ‘Christmas lecture’ about science which includes a demonstration from children in the audience. These lectures have taken place since the 18th century (except during WW2) and David Attenborough has even given one.
Before lunch, we headed into a laboratory sponsored by L’Oreal. It was really cool because we had to wear lab coats and plastic glasses. We were tasked with extracting our own DNA. First, we had to grind our teeth against our mouth then spit into a cup filled with water. This meant that cells would fall off the sides of our mouth onto our teeth. We then had to add a chemical to break down the cells walls. After that, we had to heat our substance for 10 minutes in the water bath at 50 degrees. The heat dissolved the cells. Then we added a few light drops of ethanol so we could see our DNA. It looked like cotton wool! We then use a pipette to transfer our DNA into a transparent glass bottle charm and wore it as a necklace. We thought we could clone ourselves so we could sometimes not go to school and our clone could go instead. Unfortunately, we could not find a scientist to do this for us!
Our final treat took place back in the RI theatre. There were many cool and fascinating explosions. Lots used oxygen, fuel and heat; if each of these were mixed together at the same time with the same amounts they created a fire. This is known as the fire triangle which we witnessed happen to balloons, matches and even biscuits. One of the explosions used hydrogen and heat which resulted in a beautiful flashing green light inside a bottle. For the finale, the scientists used the leftover dry ice and boiling water to create a big puff of smoke! Overall, we had an action-packed and informative day. Thank you to Miss Hughes for taking us and Howells for letting us share their coach!
Rosie Brook, Catherine Ellis, Izzy Lucas, Martha Pellicci, Eva Thomas