14 Mar 2022 Experiments

British Science Week: Daily STEM Activities!

Celebrate #bsw22 with a new STEM activity to try every day! Perfect for parents, primary school teachers, or anyone with a hankering for some science fun!

British Science Week (BSW) 2022 has begun!!! It’s amongst the busiest times of the year for the STEAMWORKS team as we raise the profile of science in special workshops across the country.

But #BSW22 isn’t just for the people who can make it to a workshop. It’s about providing engaging science outreach opportunities for people of all ages. So we’re going to post new STEM activity ideas here throughout BSW for you, your children or students to have a go!

We’ll be updating this blog post daily with new STEM ideas, so keep an eye on it! If you want reminders, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram (@st3amworks), Twitter (@STEAMWORKSLearn), or our Facebook page

Activity #1: British Science Week Poster Competition

Monday, 14th of March

Our first idea is entering the BSW Poster Competition 2022. As an activity that merges art and science, it’s safe to say it’s right up STEAMWORK’s street! It’s open to any children from the ages of 3 to 14 from schools, community groups or with the help of parents.

Entrants have to create their own informative poster around this year’s theme, Growth. That makes us think about about nature, things changing in size or shape, or the way things change over time.

The entrants will be judged by members of the British Science Association who will rate your poster based on:

  • Creativity in approach – Innovative angle on the content or creative interpretation of the theme
  • Content – Clear, accurate and informative about a STEM topic
  • Effective communication – presented and communicated in an engaging way

The deadline for submitting your poster is the 15th of April, so get creating! Full rules are available on the British Science Week poster competition page.

Activity #2: Oil Spill Clean up

Tuesday, 15th of March

For this activity, imagine there’s been a disaster and crude oil has leaked across the ocean! The oil doesn’t mix with the water and rests on top on the sea’s surface. Let’s see if your students can work it out!

This experiment covers several science topics. It looks at the chemistry of oil and water, sustainability and environmental science, and at the massive engineering task of cleaning up a human-made mess.

You can try this experiment at home, but we recommend working in a group to solve this one. Try it in the classroom where you can work together to come up with a solution.

You will need:

  • A plastic container/tray (one per group)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Water
  • A pipette
  • A spoon
  • Cotton buds
  • Cotton Wool
  • Optional: a feather

Making your “Crude Oil”

Not only is crude oil difficult to come by, it’s also toxic to ingest. That’s why you should make use of our preferred faux-crude-oil recipe. It’s a simple mixture of cooking oil and cocoa powder mixed together! It will sit on top of the water just like crude oil- and looks just as disgusting.

Not only is it cheaper but it’s also safer for children to handle. Our crude oil mixture is even edible (why you’d want to eat a raw mix of oil and cocoa powder, we don’t know).

What to do

After filling your plastic containers with water, pour in a little bit of the crude oil mix and ask your students if they can mix it together. No matter how hard they mix, the oil will always separate again.

In groups, ask them to try and remove as much of the oil as possible using all the remaining equipment. Make it a competition: whoever’s removed the most has come up with the best engineering solution!

Also, ask them to dunk a feather into the oil if you have one. They will notice it’s heavier, which would make it difficult to fly. This will help them understand the wider impact of such disasters.

You can see how this experiment is perfect both as a problem solving challenge, and as a tactile illustration of what’s happening in the world today! There’s no perfect answer, showing exactly how difficult the task faced by professional engineers was

Activity #3: Home Made Eclipse

Wednesday, 16th of March

Today’s science activity combines two science events into one! Not only is it British Science Week, today also marks the birthday of Caroline Herschel. Herschel was an extremely successful late 18th century astronomer who made history by being the first women to receive a salary for scientific work.

To mark the occasion we’ve picked out an astronomy exercise you can try at home or at school. All you need is one large and one small ball (we’d suggest a beach ball and a tennis ball), a bright lamp and a dark room.

Moving the tennis ball moon around the beach ball earth will teach students how the rotation of the Earth, and the moon’s orbit around it, creates the lunar cycle and rare eclipses. The BBC’s Sky at Night website has a great description of how to carry out this activity as well as other brilliant DIY astronomy activities you can try.

Activity #4: How to purify water

Thursday, 17th of March

Imagine you’re in the desert, you’re alone on a distant planet, or you’ve totally forgotten how to use a tap. How do you make clean drinking water? You can do it using the items dotted around your kitchen or school!

This activity is takes a long time to complete, so either do it at the start of the school day to see the results in the afternoon, or complete it at home with your parents.

You will need:

  • Cling film
  • A large container and a smaller container which fits in it
  • “Contaminated water” (water with a few drops of food colouring will do)
  • A small weight, like a pebble or blue tac

The Royal Society of Chemistry have a brilliant set of instructions for how to conduct this experiment. Water will slowly evaporate (turn into a gas) from the contaminated mixture in the large container, condense (turn back into a liquid) on the clingfilm and fall into the smaller container.

We love this experiment because of all the scientific ground it covers! It demonstrates the water cycle, which in turn teaches you all about evaporation, condensation and different material states.

Activity #5: Equinox Slime

Friday, 18th of March

This Sunday marks the start of spring with the vernal equinox. But what on earth is an equinox? At STEAMWORKS, we’ve assembled a special slime activity to help you learn about the astronomic event.

Click on the link to find our equinox slime-making guide, with an explanation of exactly when spring starts.

Thanks for celebrating British Science Week with us!

Raising the profile of STEAM education in the UK

At STEAMWORKS we firmly believe that it is essential to include design and creativity with science, technology, engineering and maths, to allow children to innovate and create amazing things! That’s why we love #BSW so much. At events like these, we know we can prove that science really is a subject accessible to everyone and help address some of the inequalities present in STEM today.