Mansfield Fun Palace


What a science-packed day we had at Mansfield Fun Palace on Saturday 6th October! With approximately 520 visitors and a range of space-themed activities from theatre productions to exploring Mars and making rockets, everyone had an ‘out of this world day’!!!

On the BSA Nottingham stand we explored the constellations though ‘make your own dot-to-dot constellations’ (the gold stars stickers were a big hit!). From there we ventured even further out of our own galaxy to the pinwheel galaxy, found in the big dipper constellation. Here we made pinwheels of the pinwheel galaxy which both children and adults enjoyed alike. After all this, we returned with many keen individuals looking forward to gazing up at the night sky.

Thank you to Mansfield museum (well worth a visit) and Sally for hosting the Fun Palace and creating a brilliant event. And to Chris from iGEM synthetic biology, Jess from MarsCAPE and Alastair from Engineering at the University of Nottingham, for bringing their activities along.

20171007_120851 20171007_120846

Worksop Fun Palace

What a wonderful and sunny day it was at Worksop library’s Fun Palace. The library was packed full of a wide variety of creative, art and science activities from finger knitting to microbit coding!!!  Over 2,000 people came, buzzing with creativity, to enjoy the activities and some fantastic performances on the live stage.

At the BSA stall, we had 3 different science activities that the children could actively get involved with allowing them to take their science creations home with them. Making colour chromatography butterflies was a particularly popular activity; watching the separation of different colours along the filter paper fascinated both the children and parents leading to ideas about homemade hair bows using this technique. The homemade lava lamp was also a big hit with the children allowing them to visually understand the reaction of bicarbonate with water to form carbon dioxide bubbles, and if enough carbon dioxide bubbles could be produced the solution would then spill over the top- it did get rather messy!!! Finally, the making of your own optical Muller-Lyer illusion baffled the children and subsequently their parents and siblings when they showed off the new trick they had learnt!

Many thanks to Fun Palace for inviting us along, we had a fantastic and hope everyone else did too!

More picture to follow

20170520_124229_resized[2232] 20170520_124309_resized_1[2231]

Missed Public Lectures: Read about them here!!

Did you miss the recent public lectures? Don’t worry  thanks to Gav at the Nottingham Science Blog you can read all about them here:

March: Bits and bytes when horses meet computers

Feb: Things that go bang in the night (sky)           

Jan: Thinking outside the (pill) box: alternative drug delivery strategies                     

0086_CMG-EVE-4x3_SCREEN Things-that-go-bang-800x600

Science in the Park: Science Fair 2017

by Harriet Allen

I had the honour of judging the 2017 Nottingham branch British Science Association science fair, with Dr Steve Sharples of the University of Nottingham. I’m a Psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist and Steve is an engineer so we each had our own take on the entrants.

We were both absolutely amazed by all the entrants. Every entrant received a bumper pack of books and every one could have been a winner. I took a few images on my phone to remember the day. I wish I was a better photographer!

Science in the Park 2017 – More images

Janice Pang took a walk around the Hall and gardens. This is what she saw:


What a fantastic Science in the Park

This weekend saw the ninth Science in the Park event find place at the grand venue of Wollaton Hall. Although the weather took a turn for the worse, the enthusiasm and passion for science was not dampened, with over 4000 visitors through the doors!

People of all ages enjoyed the science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach event organised by the Nottinghamshire British Science Association (BSA) branch.

Thanks to Wollaton Hall, all the exhibitors, sponsors and of course, all of you for coming!

See you next year 🙂 


Our spectacular home for the day, Wollaton Hall


Ready to welcome our first visitors

1 3 4

Fun on the lawn with the National Space Centre and The Scouts

14 48

Alex White, 10 growing his own crystals whilst others take a look with a magnifying glass

26 47

Learning all about insects and hunting for some worms

37 38

Khai, Thao (left) Sam and Jake (right) looking pleased with their BSA ‘Science at home’ kits

17 29

A ‘Sciencey High 5’ and a maggot masterpiece

21 23

A hands on antibiotics demonstration with Ella, 7 looking at some dinosaur poo!

24 58

Making loud music with tesla coils and having fun with UV light


Professor Peter Mitchell telling us all about how our eyes deceive us

50 60

Lewis from the Coddington Beavers and a group of friends enjoying the ‘Physics Buskers’ Balloon kebab activity

35 51 56

Having fun bending light

15 16

Seeing how quick our brain learns and trying to beat the computer with the University of Nottingham’s Psychology group

32 52 57

Becoming a formulation scientist making hand cream

31 33

Abigail Flewitt, 8 donning a lab coat and Harvey Scott, 9 who even brought his own!

11 12

Trying to make a tasty sports drink in the Camillia House

10 13 7

Scarlett Oatts talking to one of the event’s robots whilst others enjoy driving and dancing

Reality and Images at Wollaton Hall

We teamed up with the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Museums to contribute to the ESRC Festival of Social Science.

by Harriet Allen and Anastasia Popova


The festival is a week long celebration of all things social science related so we teamed up with the university Psychology department to investigate perception.

The Reality and Images event was held on November 5th 2016 as part of ESRC Festival of Social Science.  416 members of the public came and saw us, from the young to the old, from the local to the international visitor. It was great also to get a write up from the Nottingham Science Blog

The show featured work from the Fovolab from the Cardiff School of Art and Design. They are developing new ways to show images. They suggest that the visual system distorts what we see in subtle ways, but this means that neither traditional linear perspective or ‘fish-eye’ lenses capture how we really see things. You can see some of their images and projections here:

Activities included demo by Dr Dani Ropar and Dr Harriet Allen demonstrating shape constancy effect.


Rebecca Hirst and Dr Harriet Allen demonstrated automatic processing of words, in the ‘Stroop’ effect showing that sometimes we just can’t avoid distraction. Rebecca was also collecting data for her PhD at the event, showing that all sorts of science can really be done in the ‘field’.


Anastasiia Popova demonstrated mirror drawing and motor learning. In fact, this is an activity you can still take part in. We’ve put all the materials up on our website:



We had some of the Nottingham museum collection available to handle. You could inspect the eyes of an owl or a gibbon or a sheep…why do they have eyes where they do?

And everyone enjoyed changing their perception with prism goggles and hyper scopes.








Mansfield Fun Palace

We collaborated with Mansfield Museum to put on our first ‘Fun Palace’ in 2016. How did it go?

bsa3Fun Palaces aim to bring arts and science together and pop up all over the country.

We ran our first Fun Palace at Mansfield Museum this year. This was a brilliant chance to take a small part of Science in the Park out into the wider Nottinghamshire area. It was also a great chance to mix up our science events with other activities. The Fun Palace included music, dance a petting zoo and ghost walks just for starters. I particularly loved how the activities interacted. At one point we had robots in the café and robotics dancers interacting with the physics outreach. Here are a few highlights:


Our friends from Nottingham Trent EduRob appeared in the cafe.


Exploring Mars in the Old Library performance space

physics13 physics6

….and Physics transfixed everyone in the gallery. We learnt about our brains amongst the natural history.


psychology9 psychology7Everyone got hands-on with the STEMoutreachers from the University of Nottingham.

stem10 stem9

All in all, a tremendous fun day!

Chair’s Blog: 2016 Away Day

How did Harriet get on at Swansea meeting the other branches and head office?

by Harriet Allen


I went to the volunteer away day at the Science Festival this year. It’s the first time I’ve been along to one of these – our branch tends to send the chair and this is my first year in post – but I want to write a quick blog to encourage others to attend.
I’ll report all the various contacts, ideas and plans back to the branch in due course. Here I want to describe the event so hopefully encourage more of our branch volunteers to attend. Now I’ve attended it seems like such a no brainer to go again. As a nominated branch attendee I got my travel  funded by the BSA. If I’d thought about it properly I’d have enjoyed a free trip to the festival. Unfortunately I couldn’t get enough time off work by the time I clocked what I could have won.
I arrived in time to catch a little bit of the festival on day one. Even just that short time meant I could suck up some knowledge. Even though I work in science, it’s rare luxury to be able to just pick and choose my sessions based on preference and whim. I never knew that Les Paul invented not just the electric guitar but also the four track recorder.

The branches events started with an evening reception. My first ‘networking’ experience started by going up and down in the lift with two members from Cambridge. Then there were drinks and some substantial canapés. The sort of canapés which mean you don’t really need dinner. At the reception the volunteer and branch awards are given…..but it isn’t just a back slapping exercise. I was really inspired to hear what others had done. Within a few minutes I had start to hear about other branches were doing and I think I’d learnt enough to justify the trip in the first 30 minutes. Sometimes it was nice just to hear that we were not the only group struggling with logistics, other times it was fantastic to hear of great creative ideas elsewhere and other times it was good to be able explain our projects and how we made them happen.
This sharing of experience continued on day two. Sometimes in the form of formal talks…..I learnt how to do a sci/art workshop for example. We also had some guided discussions (although, to be fair, I don’t think any one of the discussions I was in stayed on topic). Meanwhile I was well fed and watered.
I’ve come away feeling much more inspired than I anticipated. Volunteers attending were much more varied than I expected. Each branch has its own context and challenges but there is something to learn from everyone.