Blog posts

Inprofood: 'chewing the fat' with Bristol's secondary schools

Blogging science to life

Thu 14 November 2013,

Throughout October members of our Formal Learning Team took part in an EU-funded project to work in local schools, facilitating a discussion game called PlayDecide, about healthy eating and obesity. The team worked with 83 pupils aged 12 - 16 from St Mary Redcliffe & Temple School in Bristol city centre, Backwell School, and St Katherine’s School in Pill. The aim of the game was to raise awareness of the issues surrounding these controversial topics, and to gather the opinions of the participants to feed them back to the EU, informing their future policy discussions.

A lively debate as part of the project

Thanks to the funded nature of the project we were able to offer this opportunity to schools for free, which ties closely to our mission to make science accessible for all.

The project is taking place all over Europe, and to date over 1000 students have participated. The game is running in just two locations in the UK, Bristol and Newcastle, where the game is being run by the Centre for Life. Participation in this game has given Bristol and Newcastle students the chance to represent the voices of the young people of the UK in EU parliament. 

It was really great to hear the opinions of the students discussed so freely, and it was brilliant to watch them inform and inspire each other with their ideas.

The groups discussed some particularly interesting ideas such as, ‘Why can’t you stop your own son over-eating?’, the influence of media pressure on people’s perceptions of bodies, and the feeling that food production sometimes wasn’t very a transparent process and if people really knew how foods were made it would put them off eating them.

A lively whole-class debate as part of the project

View the outcome of this international project's findings here.

We look forward to being able to work on other such projects in the future!

 Many thanks to Becky for writing this blog!

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What's inside a heart?

Blogging science to life

Tue 5 November 2013,

Join Ross for a closer look at the anatomy of this fascinating organ...

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Do Try This at Home: How to Make Instant Ice!

Blogging science to life

Wed 30 October 2013,

Eddie shows you how to make super-cooled water at home:

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At-Bristol Ice Rink - skate under the stars!

Blogging science to life

Mon 28 October 2013, Nicole

To celebrate the launch of online booking for the At-Bristol Ice Rink, we've created a brr-illiant new ice rink video!

Can't wait to get your skates on? Book your place online

Or call 0845 345 1235 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm, excluding Bank Holidays).

To keep up to date with all our latest videos, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Group rates, school bookings and exclusive hire

Skate with your mates, and enjoy fantastic group rates, visit the Times and Prices for more information.

Finish the winter term in style with a fantastically festive school trip to your academic calendar and enjoy special school rates! Find out more

Organising a party or special event? Add an extra bit of sparkle with exclusive hire of the ice!

Please contact our Venue Hire team on or call 0117 915 8000 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm, excluding Bank Holidays).



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How is an ice crystal made?

Blogging science to life

Fri 11 October 2013,

Raj Bista, Live Science Team Leader, shows us his favourite exhibit, Watch Water Freeze. Using polarising lenses, we take a close look at the structure of ice crystals the moment they are formed:

To keep up to date with all our latest videos, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Q&A with Dr Joel Goldstein

Blogging science to life

Mon 7 October 2013, Written by: Dr Joel Goldstein


Dr Joel Goldstein is a CERN researcher and particle physicist based at Bristol University.

Dr Joel Goldstein

What is the LHC?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a huge scientific machine buried 100m under the French and Swiss countryside near Geneva. It consists of thousands of components (magnets, vacuum pipes, cryogenics, electronics....) formed into a 27km circumference ring, and it accelerates intense beams of protons to almost the speed of light before smashing them in to each other. It is run by the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, known as CERN.

What are you trying to find out with your research?

We are trying to determine what the fundamental building blocks of the universe are, and how they interact with each other. The huge energy of the protons colliding at the LHC can produce new particles like the Higgs Boson, probing the fabric of nature at the smallest scales scientists have ever reached.

Large Hadron Collider

What does the work at CERN mean for me in Bristol?

The results from the LHC are helping to answer some of the fundamental questions that humans have been trying to answer for millennia, like what is the nature of the universe and where did everything we see in it come from. Many of the members of the public are just as interested in answering these questions as scientists and philosophers.

On a more practical level, discoveries in fundamental science can lead to advances in technology. Early particle physics research revolutionised our understanding of physics, and a century later the effects of that revolution are everywhere in our world: computers, DVD players, mobile phones and so on.

Finally, the technology we develop for research purposes can spin-out directly into the wider world. If you need an X-ray or PET scan, the most modern systems use particle detectors adapted from those designed for our experiments. And of course the World Wide Web was developed at CERN.

What first got you interested in Physics?

My parents gave me a few popular science books when I was growing up. I enjoyed reading about all areas of science, but I got well and truly hooked by the beautiful simplicity of fundamental physics - the idea that the entire complex universe can be described by a few very simple rules.

Large Hadron Collider

What is the favourite part of your job?

I love the variety. I do public talks, teaching, computer programming, mathematics, electronics, engineering, plumbing, management, and many, many more things as regular parts of my work.  The biggest excitement I get however, is to go underground to see the LHC and its experiments. The size, complexity and ambition of the project is truly overwhelming, and I am still thrilled to be part of it.

Talk us through an average day for you…

I try to balance my responsibilities for teaching and administration with my research. Today, for example, after a quick check of e-mails and the latest public results from my field I will be meeting with a technician to discuss some work on building prototypes of the next generation of particle detectors. Then I am going to do some preparation work for the undergraduate tutorial and teaching sessions I have tomorrow, before sitting down with the team I have working on possible upgrades to the current LHC detectors. We will review the progress made over the past few days and plan the next stages of our tests.

I also need to catch up with a couple of my post-graduate students to see how their research is going, looking for new, unknown particles being produced in LHC collisions. Unusually, I do not have any planned video conferences with colleagues at CERN today, so I hope to have time to talk to my funding agency, arrange flights for my next trip out to Geneva and maybe even tidy up my office a bit! My afternoon will finish in a seminar about the latest results in the study of top quarks, followed perhaps by some lively post-seminar discussions in one of the many fine pubs on St Michael’s Hill.



Many thanks to Joel for writing this blog. You can find out more about his work here.

Joel will be taking part in this week’s After Hours: Space Odyssey event, on Thursday 10 October in the session ‘Everything you wanted to know about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) but were too afraid to ask’, so come along with questions ready!

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Abu Dhabi Science Festival

Blogging science to life

Wed 10 April 2013, Written by: Chris


We catch up with At-Bristol’s Formal Learning Manager Chris O’Callaghan to get the low-down on what to expect from At-Bristol in the Abu Dhabi Science Festival (14-23 November) this year:

Q. Tell us a little bit about the background to the science festival – how long has it been running, and how long have At-Bristol been involved in the project?

Abu Dhabi’s first ever science festival was in 2011 and has been running every year since. At-Bristol have been involved since the very beginning, so we’re delighted to be preparing to go for the third time to this world-class science festival.

Q. How has our involvement changed over the years?

The festival keeps on growing. Last year they welcomed over 120,000 participants and they are hoping to inspire even more future scientists at the 2013 edition of the festival! As the festival keeps growing, so does At-Bristol’s involvement with more of our incredible science communicators heading out to support Edinburgh International Science Festival deliver this huge-scale initiative. 

Abu Dhabi Science Festival

Q. What particular exhibits, workshops or shows will you be delivering out in Abu Dhabi?

We’ll be sending out an expert team of 6 science communicators from At-Bristol to deliver 3 very different activities.

Go Animate is a really popular school workshop, using the tools publics visitors see in At-Bristol’s Animate It exhibition. We’re taking out 7 animation stations to get schools and families in Abu Dhabi creating their own animations.

DNA Codebreakers is a challenging laboratory workshop, where participants extract and visualise their own DNA! We’ve not taken out lab activities before, so the teams are really excited about working with audiences at the festival in this new format. 

Finally, At-Bristol has a world-renowned reputation in astronomy with our iconic 90-seater Planetarium. We’re taking our popular Night Sky star shows to Abu Dhabi to deliver in an inflatable dome and the teams are busy adapting the show to help encourage active stargazing among the thousands of audience members predicted to gaze up at the stars in the 110 shows scheduled for the festival.

Q. In terms of logistics, can you tell us a bit about working on a project like this? (How much kit do you need, how many staff are going, how long does it take to organise?)

This project is mega! We’re working alongside colleagues at Edinburgh International Science Festival and teams already out in Abu Dhabi to prepare for this, the world’s largest science festival of its kind. Translators, education specialists, freight companies, customs house, graphic designers, production managers, sponsors, universities, media and PR….have I forgotten anyone? Definitely!

There’s so many different talents that come together to achieve something on this scale. Luckily, we focus solely on ensuring we are prepared to deliver the most engaging, exciting and innovative activities and other people worry about the rest! We started planning for this festival in December 2012 and have already shipped over all the materials needed for the 3 activities. We’re on the final countdown until the team of 6 leave for Abu Dhabi in early November.

Abu Dhabi Science Festival

Q. Can you try and describe a typical day (if there is such a thing!) working at the Abu Dhabi Science Festival ?

3 words come to mind: fast, frantic and fantastic! In accommodating the huge audiences that attend the festival, the days are long. They start before 8:30am and end at 10:00pm, working firstly with school groups and then with visiting public.  You deliver 12 45-minute workshops or shows every day, but never get bored as every group is different. There’s a real energy to each day, as camera crews buzz around the festival site and VIPs from across the UAE and beyond come to experience the excitement of the festival (we’ve even had royalty visit At-Bristol’s workshops in the past!).

Q. What is your favourite aspect about the festival?

We mentor and support budding science communicators whilst in Abu Dhabi. These are local Emirati undergraduate students who co-deliver the activities alongside the At-Bristol teams.  This is what makes the festival so special, as you help share our skills of facilitation and delivery and work together as a diverse team to engage with the thousands of visiting children each year.

 Abu Dhabi Science Festival

Many thanks to Chris for writing this blog. You can find out more about the Abu Dhabi Science Festival (14-23 November) here - at






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Night Sky Guide: How to find Perseus

Blogging science to life

Mon 30 September 2013,

Where is the constellation Perseus? Ross from the Live Science Team shows you how to find him, along with Algol the 'demon star':

To keep up to date with all our latest videos, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Looking forward to Splish, Splash, Splosh! this Friday!

Blogging science to life

Wed 4 September 2013, Written by: Ursa

On Friday it’s a special watery Toddler Takeover and we're so excited!  We’ve got the place to ourselves and we can’t wait to meet you all. There’ll be no older boys and girls running around, just us – and we can explore all day long.

We've been on an adventure with a puddle and we're going to tell you all about it in storytime. We met a polar bear and a snake on the way. We’ve also been on an adventure in space (don’t we get around!) and we’d love to tell you all about it in Little Stars in the Planetarium. It’s a bit dark inside the Planetarium, but not completely, and there's so much to see and hear you won’t notice if it’s a bit darker than you normally have your night light.

At-Bristol have got lots of watering cans, jugs, funnels and flower pots, and they are going to let us water their plants.  That sounds like fun. There are also lots of things to float in the water or sink to the bottom – so we can experiment like real scientists. 

Leo and I like making things and you can make a fish out of a paper plate, paint it and swim it home with you as well.

It is raining on Friday?  I need to ask my Mum.

See you on Friday.

Ursa xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thanks to Ursa for writing this!

Toddler Takeovers are special days full of fun activities just for under fives.  Click here for more information on this Friday's Splish, Splash, Splosh! Takeover.

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Funded Schools Visits Programme: Making science accessible to all!

Blogging science to life

Fri 20 September 2013, Written by: Becky

September marks a great time of year for us here in At-Bristol: the start of the new school year and a chance to work with schools on our new and updated workshops and science theatre shows! It’s also the time that we launch another year of our Funded Schools Visits Programme, a scheme to support visits from schools that wouldn’t otherwise to be able to visit At-Bristol.

Our mission in At-Bristol is to make science accessible to all. We really believe that everyone should be able to experience the joy, inspiration and increase in confidence that self-directed learning in a science centre can give, and want to try our best to overcome barriers that mean that some people are not able to experience this. It was for this reason that we set up the programme, a scheme that also offers us the ability to take some of At-Bristol’s equipment out to a school if that is preferable to them.

It was through this programme that my colleague Eddie and I were able to visit Brimble Hill School in Swindon with our Jungle Senses workshop.  Brimble Hill is a special needs school, and the teachers knew the children would get a lot from the hands-on approach of an At-Bristol workshop; however, they also felt that leaving the environment of their purpose-built school might be too challenging for the pupils.

Jungle Senses is a workshop about exploring the environment of a jungle using the five senses. It creates an immersive environment of a jungle, and uses props like a real snake skin that children explore with their senses, to help them learn what lives and grows in the rainforest, and for them to imagine what it would feel like to be in a jungle environment.

Louise Fraser, one of the teachers from Brimble Hill, said, “Everybody really enjoyed the event, the content was interesting for the children, and using the senses for children with special needs was a good idea!”

Through the Funded School Visits Programme we are hoping to reach over 700 children a year, to offer them a chance to enhance their science education in ways they couldn’t otherwise experience.

If you would like more information about the Funded School Visit Programme or you would like to donate to the programme, please see our Funded School Visit Programme webpage. If you would like to apply for a funded school visit please contact our Education Team on 0845 345 3344, or

Many thanks to Becky, our Formal Learning Officer, for writing this blog!

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