By Ryan West
Last weekend (Sunday 3rd March), Wiltshire Music Centre’s free annual event, My Science Fair, brought 850 people through the doors of the professional and community music venue for a day of family fun inspired by Music and Movement. Run by the Centre’s Creative Learning department, who engage around 5,000 young people each year in musical and artistic activities, the day was spread throughout the Centre and teaching rooms of St Laurence School.
The aim of the day was to engage young minds in science, with a musical twist, and at its core was the culmination of the My Science Fair project competition, for which 36 students from 14 primary schools across Wiltshire and Bath devised their own exciting experiments exploring music, movement and science. Experiments were exhibited throughout the day and were judged by an expert panel, including scientists from the University of Bath, University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, as well as automotive-test specialists AB Dynamics, the Ministry of Defence and Unilever.
Cressida ‘Chemical Cress’ Bullock started the day with a bang as nearly 400 people filled the Auditorium.
She engaged the audience with visually stimulating experiments including bowls bubbling with bicarbonate of soda, unravelling polystyrene polymers with nail polish remover and a hair-raising experience with a Van de Graaf generator! Music leader David Garcia then took to the stage with a new way of practising the chemicals of the periodic table – samba! Using percussion instruments and tuneful ‘boomwhacker’ tubes, he got the young visitors on their feet playing out rhythms to the beats of the elements of the periodic table.
Elsewhere there was an enthralling light and music experience from Colourscape and three fun-filled and educational LEGO robotics workshops which gave young visitors the opportunity to create their own robot and programme its movements on a tablet. There was also a demonstration from students from the University of Bath who showcased an extraordinary sonic invisibility cloak made from soundwaves, and portable 3D printer pens, which provided children with a great chance to create their own objects with a stencil. There was more cybernetic fun to be had at the Bot Club, and the virtual reality headset proved popular with intrepid explorers wanting to enter a digital world.
The afternoon saw a performance from electronic composer Duncan Chapman, along with raga singer Supriya Nagarajan and Theremin player Charlie Draper, who sampled sounds from throughout the day to create a lullaby soundscape in the main Auditorium. With swirling lights and dancing shapes on the screen, it was the perfect way to relax after a busy day!
At the end of the day, Wiltshire Music Centre’s Head of Creative Learning, Karl Bevis, presented the Young Scientists with their prizes which included learning sets of scientific games, chemistry sets, robotics kits and a melodica as the star prize for the best experiment combining Music and Science.
The following prizes were awarded at the end of the day:
• Best in Class: Reception-Year 2 – “How do plants grow in brick walls?”, pupil from Widcombe Infants School aged 7.
• Best in Class: Year 3-Year 4 – “How does mould grow on bread?”, pupil from Westwood with Iford School aged 9.
• Best in Class: Year 5 – “How does sound affect how I feel?”, pupil from Saint Edmunds Catholic Primary School (aged 10)
• Best in Class: Year 6 – “Fantastic Flood Defences”, pupil from Christchurch Primary School (aged 11)
• Most Eye-Catching Presentation – “Are bramble leaves bigger in the shade or the light?”, pupils from Stowford Manor Farm (aged 8 and 9)
• Most Innovative Project – “How could Stowford Farm be more sustainable?” pupils from Stowford Manor Farm (aged 8 and 10)
• The AB Dynamics Prize for Mechanical Engineering – “Magnet Trains”, pupil from Bellefield Primary School (aged 7)
• The Music & Science Prize – “Can you make music with water?”, pupil from Christchurch Primary School (aged 6)
Speaking on the day, Karl said: “This year’s My Science Fair has seen more fantastic young scientists with some really interesting projects. Having the Music Centre so busy with robotics, virtual reality, samba music and even rocket-launching was just so much fun. We are looking forward to even more next year as we continue to provide an inclusive environment for people of all ages to explore, create and discover.”
My Science Fair was generously supported by the Bradford on Avon Area Board, the Jack Lane Charitable Trust, NFU Mutual and Wiltshire Music Connect, as well as Wiltshire Music Centre Season Sponsor AB Dynamics.
Wiltshire Music Centre plays host to around 160 concert events a year, including family events such as My Science Fair, the Big Family Music Day (22nd June 2019) and the Bradford Roots Music Festival. More information can be found online at: www.wiltshiremusic.org.uk/whats-on.
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