Last night I dusted off my lab coat, got the Periodic Table out of storage and put on my protective eyewear to attend LaTe LaB3 at the Ulster Museum.
LaTe LaB is just one of over 100 events which took place across the province for the NI Science Festival. With experiments, science shows and live music, all set under the watchful gaze of a ‘living fossil’, this promised to be a science party with a difference.
My companions for this experiment with the elements were my husband Keith, and friends; Andy, Mark, Paul and Beth. When we arrived at the Ulster Museum we were reduced to childhood levels of excitement by the giant bubbles that were drifting through the night sky. There was already a lengthy queue of people wanting to get their science on but once we entered we were welcomed with a glow stick bracelet, a tube of bubbles (which I am treasuring!) and an element badge (I was Fe – or Iron – for those who were wondering). We were also given a programme of all the events that were taking place throughout the Museum and so it was time to explore.
From printing your own art and finding out the difference between G&Ts and MRI scans to stargazing with Armagh Planetarium, it was hard to know where to start. Our first port of call however enjoying some tunes from a lab coat wearing DJ, before donning some light refracting glasses that made the world look that bit more colourful and magical. From here it was time to imbibe some ‘Chemistry Cocktails’. From a flavour morphing daiquiri to a colour changing margarita, who knew science could taste so good?
As we worked our way through the different experiences we got to do a lot, including; witnessing a hilarious live science show that saw Andy and Mark ‘switch brains’ as well as the scientist (accidentally) make his German accent disappear; play ping pong on special custom-made CNC-machine-milled table that reacted to where the ball landed; watch how dry ice can provoke colour change and make smoke rings; as well as enjoy a demonstration that truly highlighted the explosive power of hydrogen.
My personal highlights from the night, however, were watching Andy literally holding a ball of fire in his hand, getting the chance to sample delicious ice cream made before our eyes with liquid nitrogen, and getting imprisoned in a giant bubble.
As the night came to close I can honestly say I have never enjoyed science, or the Ulster Museum, so much. From learning new information in a fun way to getting to participate in science shows first hand, LaTe LaB3 was as entertaining as I hoped it would be. I am already getting my lab coat dry cleaned in the hope that LaTe LaBs returns next year, as this is one experiment I would really love to repeat!