At-Bristol Science Centre

Blog posts

How to make a motor | Do Try This At Home

Blogging science to life

Fri 16 January 2015,

Motors are used in everything from cars, to planes, to robots - and it's easy to make one for yourself at home. Nerys and Sarah of the Live Science Team show you how to make a simple motor using only a battery, a wire, a magnet, and a screw.

How to make a radioactive image

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LEGO® Robotics – comes to At-Bristol!

Blogging science to life

Mon 19 January 2015, Eddie Peacock, Formal Learning Communicator and Robot Whisperer


After three very successful pilot workshops last year, we are now ready, and so are the robots. With many students due to attend the workshop this term, we are sure they’ll have as much fun with the robots as we have had, but don’t just take my word, these are the words of the students from the pilot sessions “this is the best school trip ever!”

Favourite parts of the workshop went from “controlling the robots and playing with them”, to “completing the final challenge!” One of my favourite parts has to be transforming one of the students from human to robot, for our human/robot demo – it always gets a real good laugh.

LEGO workshop

When asked what they learnt “programming robots, and making them avoid obstructions” was a common answer. Many groups also developed a real bond with their robots. “My favourite part was playing with Echo (one of the robots) and programming him” stated one student from St Andrews C of E in Gloucestershire. “If I needed to design a robot I will make it look like my friend Echo.”

When the pilot workshops were over, one of the students said “take good care of Kilo the robot”. To be honest I think I am starting to develop a bond with the robots myself, which I guess is easy after spending time bringing them to life!

During the workshop we look at how robots can be sent to extreme places and the jobs they do. The students were asked where they would send their robots, and here are some of our favourite answers:

“Our design would be on the desert because it is really hot and the robot would need to avoid all the animals.”

“Our robots job would be to explore Pluto and find out if there was any life on it.”

“My robot would look like Echo, and I would make it go to the desert to get some water.”

LEGO workshop

If I could send a robot anywhere it would be to the bottom of the ocean to discover strange new sea creatures. Where would you send a robot and what job would the robot do?

Visit us at if you would like to find out more about this workshop, or phone our bookings team at 0117 915 7777 (8.30am – 5.30pm, Mon-Fri, excluding Bank Holidays).

We hope to see you in LEGO® Robotics soon!


IET Logo

This workshop is supported by The Institution of Engineering and Technology


Many thanks to Eddie for writing this blog! If you'd like to discover more about what the IET offers for teachers, check out their website here.



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How to make a laser microscope | Do Try This At Home

Blogging science to life

Fri 16 January 2015,

Microscopes allow you to see the world invisible to the naked eye. Will and Robbie of the Live Science Team show you a simple experiment with a laser that you can try at home to search for life in a droplet of water.

How to make a radioactive image

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How to make a macro-lens | Do Try This At Home

Blogging science to life

Fri 9 January 2015,

Macro-photography allows you to take your camera and zoom-in to see what the world looks like up close. In this video, Ross shows you a few cheap options to make use of lenses you may already have and how to hack a laser-pointer and the camera on your phone to make your own macro-lens.

How to make a radioactive image

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What would you like for Christmas?

Blogging science to life

Tue 16 December 2014, Hannah Mulvany

Looking for a one-stop shop for your Christmas presents? Look no further than the At-Bristol gift shop! From classic Christmas gifts with a cosmic twist to DIY science projects, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained over the festive period.

So to help you choose, we asked 12 of our lovely staff members what they would like from the gift shop for Christmas. After a LOT of deliberation, some head scratching, and even some beard twizzling, here is the selection of gifts that came out on top:

Jen Forster, PR Manager

“I would get gift membership*. It is amazing value for money and means you have unlimited access to At-Bristol, which is great when you have to entertain a three-year-old!”

There are lots of different money-saving membership options, whether you are a student, family or solo science enthusiast!

Jen Xmas

Lucy Whigham, Duty Team Leader

“I would love this talking Paddington Bear because it is cute and funny!”

The talking Paddington Bear toy is part of the new Paddington Bear range that is a magnificent new addition to the gift shop.

Lucy Xmas

Ben Bennett, Visitor Services

“I would get this Test Tube Spice Rack. It’s a really different gift and I love that it gives each different herb a symbol, similarly to elements in the periodic table.”

The gift shop has a wide selection of other culinary curiosities – perfect for any budding chefs in the family!

Ben Xmas

Sini Liponen, Facilities Coordinator

“I’d love to open this Food Face Plate on Christmas Day! It’s fun and colourful and would definitely appeal to kids – I’m a child at heart!”

As well as our more advanced kitchen accessories for the masterchefs in your family, we also have some gifts for the lucky people who get to sample their culinary triumphs!

Sini Xmas

Hannah Mulvany, Communications Officer

“I love bubbles and I love science, so this is pretty much the perfect present for me! There are loads of different bubble-making activities inside, so it would keep me entertained for ages!”

There are plenty of science-themed games and activities in the At-Bristol shop that will amaze and inspire over the Christmas period.

Hannah Xmas

Stuart Kemp, Visitor Services

“This Starship 4 mug reminds me of when I was a little nipper... I’d love to open this on Christmas day!”

Fancy evoking some nostalgia with your relatives? This mug and many others in the collection can be yours for the bargain price of £2.50!

Stuart Xmas

Caitlin Campbell, Visitor Services

“Stories in the Stars by Susanna Hislop would be the best present for me! Just like the Planetarium, my favourite part of At-Bristol, this book combines my love of storytelling, myths and science.”

Do you have a friend or relative who is a bit of a bookworm? The At-Bristol shop has an amazing selection of books that are sure to bring a smile to their face on Christmas Day!

Caitlin Xmas

Robbie Kornitschky, Live Science Team Member

“I was bought Magic Plastic as a child when I visited At-Bristol. I remember being amazed by it because it seemed so sci-fi at the time!”

Looking to spread your love of science around your loved ones? We could have the perfect gift for you! You never know, you might even create such an interest in science that the recipient will return to At-Bristol as an employee in the future!

Robbie Xmas

Sophie Jerrome, Visitor Services/Ice Rink Staff

“People keep coming in and buying these glittery stars for their 5-year-olds, but I really want them!”

Give your home that Planetarium-style feel this Christmas with the awesome array of cosmic goodies in our shop!

Sophie Xmas

Eva Kozdeba, At-Bristol Cafe Manager

“This cup is amazing! I love coffee so it would be great to have something to drink out of that is so colourful and light! I like that it isn’t made out of plastic and I haven’t seen them anywhere other than in here.”

If you’re wanting to be environmentally-aware with your presents this year, we have a large amount of recycled and eco-friendly gifts in the gift shop so you can help others be more ‘green’ this Christmas!

Eva Xmas

Tracey Louise Clark, Visitor Services

“I like using my phone in fun and interesting ways and this Ani-Mate Mini Movie Maker Kit would enable me to make amazing animations using my phone. It’s a really interesting gift and is a similar concept to Animate-It, one of my favourite exhibits in At-Bristol.”

FEAR NOT! At-Bristol might be closed between 24 and 26 December, but you can create your own mini science centre at home with a selection of items from the shop.

Tracey Xmas

Richard Bravery, Live Science Team Member/Venue Hire

“I’d get Bart Simpson’s Manual of Mischief so I can play pranks on my brother over Christmas!”

If you have any family members who fancy themselves as a bit of a prankster, why not give them another string to their bow this Christmas? Although, you could give them a taste of their own medicine?!

Rich Xmas

* The ultimate gift: At-Bristol membership!

Why not treat yourself or a loved one to a gift membership to At-Bristol for Christmas? Valid for a whole year from the first usage, membership will entitle the recipient to unlimited entry to At-Bristol and other ASTC-affiliated science centres around the world, free Planetarium shows, fast-track entry, 10% discount in the award-winning cafe and many other jaw-droppingly good perks. Best of all, the recipient will get 10% off in the gift shop so they can treat themselves whenever they visit! You never know, you might receive one of the above items as a thank you! Here’s hoping....

Find out more about gift membership here.

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How to make a radioactive snow globe cloud chamber

Blogging science to life

Fri 12 December 2014,

Join Ross & Bonnie as they try to make the world's simplest radioactive particle detector, or the world's most complicated snow globe; using thorium, dry ice, ethanol and an old fish tank!

How to make a radioactive image

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How to make a comet!

Blogging science to life

Fri 24 October 2014,

What is a comet made of? Where do they come from? Ross and Sarah show you how to make a miniature comet using dry ice and Worcester sauce!

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After Hours: BRAINS - a sneak preview!

Blogging science to life

Tue 21 October 2014, Heather

If you’ve been to one of At-Bristol’s After Hours evenings before then you’ll know to expect plenty of interactive fun and hands-on activities as we give adults free rein of the science centre, without any kids around!  After a break for the summer, this Thursday we’re back with After Hours: BRAINS.

So far we’ve explored topics ranging from forensics to outer space, and celebrated Christmas and Valentine’s Day in our own sciencey style.  This is the first time we’ve decided to delve into the fascinating world of the mind, so we’re looking forward to getting stuck into plenty of hands-on activities, cranial challenges, and mind-bending experiments!

Get up close to real brains!

We’re very lucky to have close links with our neighbours and local universities, so naturally we’ve called on a little help!  Anthropologist Kate Robson-Brown will be exploring the evolution of the brain and investigating how closely related we are to our ancestors; Kelly Sealey, head cookery tutor at Bordeaux Quay, will be whipping up some brain-based cuisine for you to try; and experts from Bristol Neuroscience will be on hand to guide you through interactive experiments – including investigating the electrical nature of nervous activity, and dissecting a real sheep’s brain. 

We caught up with Dr Emma Robinson, a neuroscientist at the University of Bristol, to find out a bit more about her job and what she’ll be getting up to on Thursday:

What are you doing at After Hours?

I’ll be dissecting a brain from a sheep!

What interesting things will we see inside a sheep’s brain?

The surface of the brain is very folded, similar to the brains of primates and humans, suggesting there's a lot of processing power.  When we cut the brain we'll also see some of the internal structures, such as the hippocampus, which is a very beautiful structure and plays an important role in memory.

What does your job as a neuroscientist involve?

I'm involved in both teaching and research at the university.  I specialise in pharmacology, the study of how drugs act, and teach students about how drugs affect the brain.  My research group is interested in understanding the causes of psychiatric disorders such as depression so we can find better ways to treat patients

What do you like about living and working in Bristol?

Bristol is a very lively city! I love the fact that I work so near to the heart of the city, but also have access to open spaces such as Ashton Court and the Downs.

After Hours

We’ll also be challenging your mind with our Brain Games – can you trick your brain into thinking a rubber hand is your own, or identify your friends just by their movement?  Then, if your neurons are feeling frazzled, join one of our expert presenters in the Planetarium, who’ll blow your mind in a completely different way as they take you on a trip through the wonders of outer space – without having to leave the comfort of your seat!

Of course, there’ll also be the chance to explore two floors packed full of hands-on exhibits, fully-licensed bars, and live music – we guarantee this isn’t your average night out!

Tickets are £7/£6 for members and concessions (group rates also apply).

Book your place online, by calling 0117 915 1000 (lines open 9am – 5pm), or popping into At-Bristol (Welcome Desk open 10am - 5pm).

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Do try this at home: How to bake a cake, with science!

Blogging science to life

Fri 10 October 2014,

What happens if you miss a vital ingredient out of a cake?  Why is the egg so important?  What does baking powder actually do?  Join Nerys and David of the Live Science Team as they investigate the chemistry of cakes & show you a tasty experiment to try in your own laboratory/kitchen!

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

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LEGO® Robotics

Blogging science to life

Wed 22 October 2014, Eddie Peacock, Formal Learning Communicator

Watch out – this autumn robots will be invading At-Bristol! Don’t worry though, it’s all part of piloting our exciting new workshop, LEGO® Robotics. Eddie Peacock, Formal Learning Communicator and robot whisperer, gives you the scoop on this exciting project.

When the learning team in At-Bristol Science Centre start to brainstorm content for new workshops, we’re always led by any changes in the National Curriculum, as we want our workshops to support teachers and complement learning in the classroom as much as possible. As Computing has a much larger focus with the 2014 National Curriculum, naturally we were keen to create a KS2 Computing workshop – and of course, we wanted to make it as fun as possible!

After much deliberation, we hit on a winning idea: LEGO® Robots! Everybody loves robots and LEGO®, plus LEGO® have an amazing range of educational products which are perfect for computer programming.

LEGO robot

With the support of the IET we were able to purchase a class set of LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT, (programmable robotic kits) and then the hard work began. Many hours were spent building the LEGO® Robots, and lots and lots of time was spent playing. I know what you’re thinking, it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it! My favourite part of this project so far has to be programming loads of robots to move and swarm like my minions. Of course, I suppose I should get my head back down with some serious work now...

As all of our schools workshops are designed to be tailored to students and teachers, we are really keen to find out what they think, so this October we’re piloting the first of our LEGO® Robotics workshops to find out. All feedback will be taken into account and we’ll use this to shape the final workshops which will launch January 2015.

It’s shaping up to be a fun, hands-on introduction to robotics and programming! Students will learn how to write and debug simple algorithms that control movement and operate sensors on a LEGO® Robot, and teachers will benefit from a workshop that brings a new section of the National Curriculum to life.

If you want more information or book your place please call 0117 915 7777 (8.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays).


This workshop is supported by The Institution of Engineering and Technology


Many thanks to Eddie for writing this blog! If you'd like to discover more about what the IET offers for teachers, check out their website here.

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