Electrolysis of Water: with Pencils and a 9V Battery

H₂O might be the most familiar chemical compound on the planet. Many people know that water is H₂O, but most wouldn't think about what that means in a chemical sense. Water is a remarkable molecule made of two Hydrogen atoms bound to a single Oxygen atom: H, H, and O. Water's special properties give us life... Continue Reading →

Astronomy Resources for Teachers

I've started a page with some links, facts and ideas for teachers, educators and anyone else that wants them. Quite often when I’m visiting schools, I throw lots of URLs around and talk about websites, books, etc that kids and teachers might like. Then I often forget to give them these URLs and tips. So now... Continue Reading →

Astronomy in Everyday Life

Astronomers are sometimes asked to defend public funding of their work. It’s difficult to answer because I really do think that there are lots of things we should do just because they’re interesting and enriching and that science shouldn’t be limited be what is economically beneficial. That said, astronomy is often given an easy ride... Continue Reading →

How to Make Glowing Jelly

Here's a really simple and fun experiment to do at home: make glowing jelly (or jello, American friends)! The method is really easy - you're just making jelly - but you do need some kind of UV light source to see the effects[1].It's a very simple idea: you make jelly but use a 1:1 mixture of... Continue Reading →

Exploring Liquids: An Experiment

Here’s a fun experiment you can try using the contents of your kitchen cupboard. Explore the effects of different densities and learn about refraction, viscosity and the planet Jupiter. You’ll need five different liquids; I used golden syrup, dishwashing liquid, water, alcohol and vegetable oil. I also used some food colouring to make it easier... Continue Reading →

Make Your Own Spectrometer

Note: This experiment involves sharp objects and should only be performed by children if under supervision. As long as care is taken, this is a fun experiment with effective results. It can be done without the razor blades, but the results are not as good. Spectrometers are used, like prisms, to spread light out into... Continue Reading →

Air Pressure and Coke Cans

I recently did a piece on measuring the speed of light using your microwave. Well here is some more physics you can play with in your kitchen. This time let’s create a vacuum and then use it to crush something. I like crushing things. Don’t we all? What you will need: A regular drinks can... Continue Reading →

Measure the Speed of Light Using Your Microwave

Astronomers studying star formation, like myself, use telescopes that can see though the pretty, optical exteriors of nebulae into the dark interiors where very cold dust radiates in the submillimetre and microwave regimes. Microwaves, fall on the electromagnetic spectrum, between radio waves and infrared waves. They are usually around the size of a few centimetres... Continue Reading →

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