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May 23rd 2018

Explosive lectures and bananas at the Royal Institution

Read from Charlotte about year 5's recent trip to the GDST Science conference or find out more about our fantastic private primary school in London and what studying here is like.


A lucky group from Year 5 got to go to the GDST Science conference at the Royal Institution and I was one of them! After an introduction, the first thing we did was go to the lab and look at DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). We got some DNA from the cells of the inside of our cheeks and made it visible. We were aiming to see the DNA and be able to store it in a necklace. Mine was successful although it does not look like what you would expect as it was white and fluffy!

After our time in the lab, we had a talk about the history of the Royal Institution. Did you know that the Royal Institution was founded in 1799 for scientists to show off new discoveries and inventions, and had a lab where people were employed to study science (which was unusual at the time)? Some of their discoveries included isolating individual elements such as chlorine, magnesium, sodium and calcium. Sir Humpry Davy, one of the scientists based here, was also the inventor of the miner safety lamp which saved many lives through its use in coal mines. The Royal Institution is still in the same building today. 

After this, we went on a trail around the Royal Institution to try and find the answer to a code and saw learnt lots along the way. Following a quick lunch, we had a talk about our chromosomes and genes. All humans have 99.9% of the same DNA, the material which makes up genes and chromosomes, all differences are in 0.1%. Onions have five times more DNA than us humans although no one is quite sure why. We even share 50% of our DNA with a banana! 

Finally, we had a brilliant and explosive lecture about the fire triangle or to be more accurate the fire tetrahedron. For fire to burn, it needs three things (heat, oxygen and fuel) although people now think it should also include the chemical chain reaction for it to burn. The show involved dry ice and lots of liquid nitrogen! They blew up and set fire to many of things including magnesium which burnt brightly inside a block of dry ice and a hydrogen filled balloon. Overall, it was a great day. 

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