Science busking at NUS Open Day 2017

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During NUS Open Day on 11 March, students from MW5202 Innovations in Science Teaching, a module for the NUS-ANU Joint M.Sc. in Science Communication, put up a wonderful performance, communicating science to public visitors in the form of busking! Below is a short description and a mosaic of pictures to illustrate each busking activity.

Marshmallow Cannon

A marshmallow in a hollow tube was ejected by one blowing into the tube. Participants were challenged to send the marshmallow flying as far as possible. Our science communicators then explained the physics of the moving marshmallow inside and outside the tube, and discussed the parameters affecting the distance travelled by the marshmallow (such as the dimensions of the tube and the angle of elevation).

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Science of Coffee

The science behind a good cup of coffee was demonstrated by live brewing and coffee tasting. Visitors were invited to taste different samples of coffee made with different brewing parameters such as grind size and temperature, and were asked to comment on the flavours and their preferences. Our communicators then explained the difference in flavour by introducing some chemical compounds found in coffee, and their extraction profiles.

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Elephant Toothpaste

The catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen was dramatised with the addition of detergent which combined with the products to generate an impressive amount of foam that looks like a large column of toothpaste, hence the name “Elephant’s Toothpaste”. The reaction is exothermic and raised the temperature by more than 30 degree Celsius. Our communicators did this experiment using purely household products. Thus, this is an experiment that everyone “can do at home”!

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Oobleck 

The Oobleck is a “non-Newtonian fluid” whose viscosity increases with applied force. If we move an object into the Oobleck slowly, the suspension will behave like a thick liquid, allowing the object to move through. If an object hits the Oobleck at high speed, the suspension stiffens like a solid and prevents the object from penetrating the surface. After the hard work of mixing 25 kg of corn starch with liters of water, our communicators and visitors had great fun stepping and dancing on (and some sinking into) the big tub of Oobleck!

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This article was first published on 15 March 2017 at https://abucketfullofscience.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/science-busking-at-nus-open-day-2017/