What is a tangram puzzle? Join Claire as she explores how these geometric puzzles can be manipulated and moved around to create different pictures and patterns.
Then follow along and create your very own puzzle using just paper, scissors, a ruler and some colouring supplies. Have a go at manipulating your puzzle and see how the triangles, square and parallelogram all fit within each other. See if you can rearrange the shapes back into the original puzzle…it’s not as easy as it looks!
Finally, if you’re up for the challenge, battle it out with David in an epic competition of creativity. See who can create the most animals, using every piece of your tangram puzzle.
How did a cartoonist from California inspire a yearly competition to create the most complicated machine that carries out a super simple task? Join Ross as he explores who Rube Goldberg was and how his creativity and love of inventing has inspired many marvellous machines.
Discover how a series of chain reactions can be used to carry out tasks such as turning on lights or even flushing the toilet! Ross shows us how energy is vital to Rube Goldberg machines and what types of energy are most important.
Finally, get inspired to create your own mechanical masterpiece by watching Ross design and set off his very own spectacular Rube Goldberg machine.
Tetrahedrons, octahedrons and cubes oh my! 3D shapes are all around us, in the products we buy and even the packaging they come in. Orla explores how designers use 2D drawings, called nets, to make 3D shapes! We’ll learn about angles and how important they are in a special group of shapes called platonic solids. What are these five shapes and why were they so important to the Ancient Greeks?
Then follow along as Orla shows us how to create your very own amazing pull-up net using paper, a pencil, a ruler, scissors, reusable tac and string. How will you use your 3D inventions? How many nets can you create from a single piece of paper? Take on the challenge that designers and engineers face to create amazing products with very little waste!
If you want try making these at home, use our 3D shape template.
This video was made with support from MathWorks.
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Materials are what things are made of for example, our houses are made of bricks and our clothes are made of cloth. We’ve used materials to make our lives easier for centuries! And scientists are even using computers to make new materials that are cheaper and better suited to particular jobs. Now, Ross needs our help finding a material to fix his broken umbrella. Join Claire and Ross as they explore how different materials have different properties, which can be useful when designing objects (and when trying to fix them).
Plastic is a material that can be really useful but can also cause problems when we try to dispose of it. Find out how we can reuse plastic and join in by creating your own useful object, by re-purposing an old plastic bottle.
Automatons, what are these mysterious mechanical objects and how do they move? Claire explores the very first robots looking all the way back to Ancient Greece! We’ll see how automatons have been engineered over centuries by different cultures throughout the world. Learn how some automatons are designed for creative reasons such as life-like animals that move and make noise! While other automatons serve a useful purpose and can help us with every day tasks like telling the time.
Finally get creative and design your very own spinning automaton. You’ll need cardboard, scissors, tape, a ruler, two wooden skewers, a pencil and some colouring supplies. Once you’ve mastered the spinning automaton, re-engineer your design to try and change the way it moves. Maybe it can go up and down? Maybe it can move left and right? Engineering is all about experimenting, so bring your creativity and let’s get building!
What makes a good boat float? Grab your rubber duck and join Claire as she explores the science of shipbuilding, with the help of an experiment supposedly carried out more than two thousand years ago…all from the comfort of her bath tub.
Learn how the forces of gravity and buoyancy fight against each other in a tug of war, each trying to sink or float our boats. Does the weight of a boat matter? What about its shape? Watch Claire carry out different experiments to see how a boat’s design affects its ability to float.
Then rifle through your recycling and find supplies to create your very own boat. Think like an engineer and plan, create, test and improve your design so you can battle it out with Ross and Claire to make a boat that can hold the most weight possible.
Eilidh and Natalie from the Centre for Doctoral Training for Applied Photonics present this Spark of Science. Find out about LIDAR and how understanding how light travels can help us improve technology.
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin flew into space 60 years ago, blazing a trail into the Kazakh sky aboard his Vostok rocket. Many astronauts have followed in his footsteps since then, but Gagarin will always have been the first human in space. This episode of ‘A Spark of Science’ explores his first flight, and slightly dramatic return to Earth!
Growing food crops in a vertical farm has a lot of advantages over traditional farming. For one thing, it’s less vulnerable to bad weather, which we get plenty of here in Scotland! Join us in this episode of ‘A Spark of Science’ to find out how vertical farming might transform how we grow our food in the future.
A satellite can be anything from a machine, moon, or even a planet that goes round another object in space. We might be familiar with our largest natural satellite, the Moon, or even that the Earth is a satellite of the Sun, but what about the ones that we’ve built and launched into space. What do they look at, and how do we get them down?
We all have one – a junk drawer – the random assortment of old mobile phones, wires and batteries tucked away in a drawer taking up space. It’s estimated there are 40 million unused gadgets stored away in UK households.
But did you know, your old electronics could be a literal gold mine, just waiting to be reused?
In this episode of ‘A Spark of Science,’ learn about urban mining with Katie.
Celebrate outer space with this special issue of The Spark magazine focused on space exploration! Learn about the new technologies that allow us to explore our world and beyond – from space! Meet a satellite technician, find out about the James Webb Space Telescope, and investigate how rovers search for signs of life on Mars.
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The extreme environment on Mars may not be suitable for humans, but we have been able to send rovers to the red planet to send back incredible information about what the conditions are like.
Katie from our Planetarium team tells us about an exciting new European Space Agency (ESA) mission to send a rover to Mars in 2022. It’s named after one of the UK’s most famous scientists – chemist and DNA pioneer, Rosalind Franklin. The Rosalind Franklin rover will look for signs of past life on the planet.
As well as finding out all about how this incredible rover works, and why it’s going to Mars in the first place, we’re asking you to get creative and make your own model rover from items you can find at home.
Cartoons and animations are amazing – but how do they work? They use an optical illusion called persistence of vision!
Let’s explore this effect further by looking at something called a zoetrope. You can even try this optical illusion for yourself at home by following along with Aileen to make your own thaumatrope and flip book.
Computers are an integral part of our day-to-day lives – almost everything we own has a computer inside it! From our cars to our TVs, some of our favourite toys to our fridges – they’ve all got a computer inside them.
James explains the different parts of a computer and what they do, whilst building his very own LEGO computer!
What is a land yacht? Is it a car with a sail or a boat with wheels? A land yacht is a vehicle powered by the wind – it travels on land but it has both wheels and a sail.
For his land yacht, Andy uses cardboard, kebab skewers, an empty plastic strawberry tub, a cardboard tube (toilet roll/kitchen roll), paper for the sail and uses scissors and tape to put it all together. You can use whatever you have at home to create your land yacht – get creative to see what makes the best one!
How do bridges hold up so much weight? Join Ruairi as he conducts an experiment to find the most brilliant bridge using just one sheet of A4 paper. Which of his three bridges will hold the most weight, and why?
How do computers know what we want them to do? Coding! Find out how Alicia gets on as she tries to program a robot to make toast with jam and butter.
Sounds easy? Be careful there’s no bugs in your code! You can join in at home by having one person be the Coder and one person be the Robot. You will need a pen or pencil to write with, some paper to write on, a friend or family member who is willing to be your robot, a toaster, bread, jam, butter, a knife, and a plate.
After this, decide on your own projects and write the instructions needed to carry out your programme. If you want to try some more coding activities, have a look at Hour of Code.