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The King’s College science festival DISCOVER@KING’S exploded into action this week as Alison Rivett from Bristol ChemLabS took over the usual school assembly, delighting pupils and staff with an array of big bangs.

The school played host to 14 visiting scientists and over 500 primary and prep school pupils from across the local area. The science labs were taken over with an array of lab-based workshops that included explosions, the science behind the electric guitar, and the evolution of life. The theatre was full of gasps and applause as Pyrotechnician Matthew Tosh delighted audiences with his indoor fireworks show, and Tim Harrison from Bristol ChemLabS with exciting chemistry demonstrations.

Pupils also enjoyed a visit to space, courtesy of the mobile planetarium that visited the school on Wednesday. Parents and staff were also treated to a peek inside the dome to witness the big bang and the story of evolution.

On Thursday, pupils and staff gathered to watch the start of the CSI day: a mock bedroom (created inside a shipping container) was set alight, under the expert watch of fire investigators and firefighters – the resulting fire growing with shocking speed and power. Not only was this to become a mock crime scene for later activities, it also served as a useful and informative fire safety lesson. A group of fifth and sixth form pupils put on white forensic suits and in small teams, collected evidence from scenes to help solve a crime. They all enjoyed dusting surfaces with forensic powder – a substance that becomes stubborn in the face of cleaning agents – a little too much! Presentations on their findings were judged by our visiting crime scene investigator Allan Clark, who was thoroughly impressed with the evidence collected and the way in which the pupils involved themselves in the crime scenario throughout the day.

The festival was an exciting opportunity for pupils to witness science in action, as they were exposed to a variety of scientific disciplines and fields of work; seeing how science can be applied to real-life events and activities.

In the evenings a series of three lectures also proved popular, not only amongst the King’s community, but also with members of the public.

On Tuesday, Bruce Hood, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol, discussed the ‘self-domesticated brain’. Wednesday saw Pete Vukusic, Vice-Dean and Professor of BioPhotonics at the University of Exeter, explore the science of light and colour, and on Thursday, Dave Scaysbrook, a leading forensic scientist and fire scene investigator, talked about developments in forensic science over the past 20 years.

Commenting on the festival, Head of Science Julie Gresswell said: “We are absolutely delighted with how popular and successful this event has been. We would like to thank all staff and pupils involved, our visiting scientists, and the primary and prep schools who travelled to take part in the events. We would also like to thank the local community for their interest and support in making this inaugural science festival a great success. We are already looking at ideas for next year’s event!”.

Photographer: V Crandley