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The Chemistry of Me

14 December 2011

Visitors to Techniquest’s Science of Me event at the end of November had the chance explore the chemistry of the body thanks to a collaboration between Cardiff School of Chemistry, Cardiff School of Biosciences and the University of Glamorgan.

The first activity showed everyone exactly what they were made of by breaking the human body down into individual elements. Children were amazed to see how much carbon they have inside them (displayed as two bags of BBQ charcoal), while adults were shocked by how little iron is responsible for transporting oxygen all around the body.

Families competed against each other in the second activity, Smelly Chemistry. Visitors were challenged to use smell alone to identify different substances. Lavender, orange and clove were the easiest to recognise while ginger proved the most difficult. Dr Suzy Kean, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health, Sport and Science at the University of Glamorgan, developed the activity.

The messiest activity of the weekend was the Science of Snot, developed by Dr Kelly BéruBé, Director of Lung & Particle Research Group, Cardiff School of Biosciences. Giant noses full of fake mucus gave visitors a chance to see how the colour and consistency of snot changes when we get sick.

Almost 800 adults and children took part in the activities over the weekend and feedback was excellent. The engagement team consisted of Dr Emma Carter, Dr Suzy Kean, James Pritchard, Brendan Rowan, Kate Sampford, Dave Short and Dr Dayna Mason.