Ok, so this is very much a fun post for kids (or easily amused adults like myself). With Halloween fast approaching there’s a lot of ways you can combine geeky science knowledge with the celebrations. This is a great example of a simple, little known fact that makes everything seem ultra cool – tonic water fluoresces under UV light. The only slight hold back is you need to get hold of a UV light somewhere…
I guess this post is also an opportunity for me to say how important it is to get kids excited and intrigued by science and a lot of the time that won’t happen through the national curriculum. I know my love of science came from watching TV shows like CSI, How, Scrapheap Challenge and Braniac. Now all of those shows together make me sound like the biggest geek in the world but a lot of people not interested in science would watch those shows, it just so happened that as I was a child my mind was clearly heavily influenced by them and with an inquisitive personality science became my goal. The best my science classes had to offer me was burning wotsits and prawn crackers to learn about energy. It didn’t quite cut it. So I managed to convince my mum to get me a chemistry kit, however with no one to guide me, teach me and explain why the two liquids I was mixing smelt really bad it was never really fulfilling enough.
The one person I can say truly inspired me into a science career and seemed to understand my thirst for knowledge was my Grandad Derek. To me he seemed to know everything. He bought me a game from a carboot sale that, without me realising until he’d let me explore it for a few months, taught me binary. He let me ‘help’ him fix the electrics in his flat and explained how resistance, current and voltage were all interlinked. He taught me odds, probabilities and ratios to help me gamble…! Although his expertise and our interactions were mostly derived from physics and maths and I’m now in systems biology, he helped me stay interested in science when a lot of the stuff at school was putting me off. With luck, I managed to get a few better teachers along the way that inspired me to continue my interest however I always felt they were stifled by the national curriculum (an issue that is one of many teachers and I’m sure I’ll be speaking about their plight soon) but it was the science I learnt outside of school that really inspired me.
And so that is why I’m really sharing this link. This Halloween, everyone should make glowing jelly. Everyone should understand why the jelly glows. Everyone should show their kids and the children in their family this magical glowing jelly and explain that cool things like this are from science, not magic, and therefore science can be cool – although this may need a few more examples to convince some, but glowing jelly is a good place to start!