The material bulk of the SCI-FUN roadshow consists of the set of hands-on exhibits which we take to each school. Between forty and fifty exhibits are usually on the road, with more in development, or under maintenance. Exhibits are intended to demonstrate particular topics in all three of the main sciences, and we are always trying to maintain the rather tricky balance between the three subject areas. (Chemistry is particularly difficult to present in stand-alone exhibit form, so we're always keen on new ideas.) An exhibit (one of which is shown opposite) is built to an exact specification (size, construction and weight), so that it can be transported with minimal damage, and set up and dismantled quickly. In addition, you quickly learn that an exhibit has to survive the most destructive force in nature: twelve- and thirteen-year olds...
During the hands-on session, presenters are available to help any pupils who need assistance, or to explain more of the detail behind specific exhibits. To help us in this task, we arrange in advance to be helped by a group of local S5/6 students, as described previously. At the beginning of the day, the presenters briefly describe the basics of each exhibit to the senior helpers, so that they in turn can point out these essential facts to their small groups of S1/2 pupils.
SCI-FUN will occasionally take S5 pupils on work-experience placements. If we are visiting a nearby school during the week in which work experience pupils are with us, we give them an opportunity to help out in general with the show, but also to be trained as helpers.
The hands-on sessions last up to thirty minutes, which is never long enough! Some exhibits are particularly popular, a couple of which are shown opposite...