Budding boffins get the chance to laugh and learn

Thu, 15 Sep 2011 10:32:00 BST

Lively-minded youngsters will have their very own “Eureka” moment when they attend a prestigious night of science and research at the University of Huddersfield.  Experiments with custard, cornflakes and mini-rocket ships will combine learning with laughter.  And an ex-student of the University will be using his drama skills to make sure that the science goes with a swing.

  Huddersfield graduate Darren Fearnley

A team from the award-winning Eureka! children’s museum in Halifax will be contributing at the Researchers’ Night at the University on Friday 23 September.  The event’s organisers promise that ‘everybody can be a scientist for the night’ and primary school age children too will become budding boffins.

One of the team from Eureka! will be Halifax-born Darren Fearnley, aged 26, who graduated in drama from the University of Huddersfield in 2008.  He has been a member of the museum’s 60-strong full-time team ever since.  Working alongside colleagues from a wide variety of backgrounds, he finds that his performing skills, honed at University, are a big aid when it comes to enlivening his Eureka! activities.

When they join in the Researchers’ Night, the Eureka! team will set up their very own mini-research station at the University and youngsters will find out how to make water disappear and carry out a scientific investigation into the properties of custard – “very messy, but the kids love it!” says Darren – plus an amazing experiment with a magnet that shows that breakfast cereals really do contain iron, just as it says on the box.  Bound to be especially popular is the chance to make and launch mini-rockets powered by a mixture of alka-seltzer and vinegar.

Eureka! often sends members of the museum’s full-time staff to prestigious events.  This year they have set up their stall – combining education with entertainment – at events such as the Great Yorkshire Show.

The Researchers’ Night at the University of Huddersfield is free of charge and offers a huge range of activities, including science demonstrations, textile workshops and inspiring talks by world-class scientists.  There will be an opportunity to learn more about research into textiles, pharmaceuticals, computing, engineering and health sciences, and see how it affects our daily lives.

Researchers’ Night takes place every year throughout Europe.  This year there are over 800 venues in 320 European cities in 32 countries but  the University of Huddersfield is only one of four institutions in the UK that have been selected  to host an event and it is the first Researchers’ Night  to take place in Yorkshire.

Jenny Parker, who is play and learning co-ordinator at Eureka!, said that she was delighted that the children’s museum was making a contribution to Researchers’ Night.  “It is great do things in our local community and we hope to inspire a lot of interest not only in science but also in the idea of further education and university study.”

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