Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Experimental Weekender: Part 2 Sunday

Once again MOSI put on a nice breakfast for us. I had a custard danish today and was delighted to see mostly the same faces from yesterday. I spent this morning with the microscopes and the highlight for me was of course getting to make graphene myself using the traditional method of scotch tape and graphite particles. I learned that the secret is to make the tape come together in different places each time so that you end up with a powdery looking layer. Takes about 10 minutes. I looked at it under the microscope. Here is a picture of it. The grey and white areas which are letting through light and are difficult to see is graphene :D

Lunch was once again, very enjoyable. Fun chats with fellow volunteers and we joked about how scientists can't function without coffee. I spent the afternoon, on the front table helping kids (and adults!) make sheets of graphene which they could then place on the floor at the back if they wanted to. We were trying to make the worlds largest sheet of graphene. Alternatively, people could make a 'bucky ball' if they wanted too. We didn't get many takers as this is percieved as too difficult. I think only one person succeeded. There were many comments throughout the afternoon about how addicitve and therapeutic this is. I had initially had that very thought myself. We also had the joy of listening to The Graphene Suite again as well.

It was still rather busy at the end of this event and we started to pack up at 4pm. Experiencing a heat wave at the moment we were sent on our merry way with a bottle of water. I don't feel like I have had a weekend but I did have a great time. Thank you MOSI for looking after us. I have always had an interest in graphene and was excited to do this and not disappointed.  Chatting to other ambassadors about what I want to do (HIV research) and one lovely guy to me 'thats actually very cool' for which I thanked him. I appreciate such comments as usually people don't say anything. Myself and the other ambassadors were not really keeping track of time and we stood outside MOSI chatting for a while before going our separate ways. It would be nice to work with them again but I wish them all the best with their futures anyway. I learned alot. I know graphene is the strongest known material but now I know that it used to be the spiders silk thread. Also it can be made in the lab by CVD (Carbon Vapour Deposition) I learned that it can be used in the body to direct drugs to the affected area. Also graphene lightbulbs may be on the market next year! From the questions I was asked it was clear that some people are aware of graphene and wanted to know about its applications whilst alot of people wanted to know what it is with genuine interest. The visitors obviously had a great time which makes this all the more worthwhile. I will leave you with some feedback which they gave. I hope you found this weekend through my eyes interesting too.

“fabulous guides”
“I have learnt lots about what graphene is and what it is made of”
“[I learnt that] graphene is the thinnest material you can make and it was discovered in Manchester”
“It’s the strongest material in the world”
“I learnt how to make a microscope”
“Being a scientist or STEM Ambassador is really interesting”
“I have learnt about STEM jobs, super materials, nanotechnology and nanometres”
“I learnt what motivated the scientists to do what they do now”
“I learnt how to pursue a scientific career”


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