A group of researchers is overcoming the barriers of lockdown, to help school children discover the wonders of science in their own homes.
Pupils and their families can now join live chats with scientists and be guided through unusual experiments – such as how to make a lemon battery.
The organisers, from the Universities of Edinburgh and Durham, hope that the project will help stimulate scientific interest and learning among children – during the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.
Families can join the discussions via a new website – scientist-next-door.org
The website also holds a wealth of scientific information for kids to learn about space, natural resources and life sciences.
“We want to encourage children to be curious about science and the world around them. As scientists, we were concerned that lockdown would widen the gap in the uptake of sciences by children and we wanted to provide a fun and accessible platform for their continued learning.”
– Dr Valentina Erastova, Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry and founder of the Scientist Next Door.
Other fun experiments for children and adults to try together include extracting DNA from a strawberry, how to compare your fingerprints and why boats float and balloons fly.
There is also a section about Covid-19 – explaining what it is, debunking some myths, explaining differences between viruses and bacteria, and why you should wash your hands.
“Our goal is to give support to families that are currently not benefiting from science connections, events and activities. Through this, we believe, we can lower the barriers that prevent pupils from the least advantaged backgrounds pursuing their aspirations in science.”
– Drs Basile Curchod and Matteo Degiacomi, Lecturers, Durham University, Chemistry and Physics Departments and co-founders of the Scientist Next Door
To date the Scientist Next Door has hosted over 20 sessions and has been contacted by more than 30 families. Some 50 scientists from across the world have signed up to help, allowing the team to reach more households in the UK and abroad.