Brighton Science Festival

Schools Workshops and Talks

BBC Rough Science’s Jonathan Hare and Brighton Science Festival’s Richard Robinson offer a full range of  workshops and talks, honed to perfection during the our school tours each January. They are curriculum-based and appropriate for whole classes from reception in primary schools to A level students.

They specialise in key stages 2-3, all with excellent reviews from teachers and the public.

November 2020 – February  half term 2021

Zooming Into Your Senses

Key Stage 2

Zoom has two of our five senses: it can hear and see. But it doesn’t do it as well as we do, does it? It regularly shows people too dark, or too far away – which our eyes don’t do – and when there’s more than one person speaking, it crashes. This we discovered over half term.

But rather than curse Zoom for its hopelessness, we should marvel at what gives us the edge over Artificial Intelligence. Our clever senses will be our message; Zoom will be the medium, and also a participant in the experiments! 

I will use Zoom as a laboratory specimen, compare its workings with ours, and discover why real, human intelligence is better than the artificial stuff. How clever are our senses!

On the way, we can discover how to make Zoom work better for us.

(And if you are willing, we can discuss with the older children how AI is improving, and if we should worry about that.)

Evaluations from Half Term

…”Thank you for offering what was a superb talk on the history of the earth and our origins. I was concerned that the kids wouldn’t focus on an online format but it was delivered in such an engaging way that they were drawn in and entertained all the way through. There is nothing so infectious that sparks interest and imagination than seeing someone talk about something they are really passionate and knowledgeable about.”

…”Thank you so much for enabling the science festival to happen this year. We enjoyed zoom sessions throughout the week but I have to say Planet B was fantastic. I love the way you explained everything.”

…”We absolutely loved your talk on illusions and it had a big impact on Laurie.”

For Key Stage 2


A Balanced Curriculum  (Create a mobile and learn about weights and gravity).

Angry Gulls  (learn about velocity and acceleration through a gull poo shooting gallery).

The Incredible Machine  (As you build the Incredible Machine you learn about forces, levers, pulleys etc).


 The Science Magic series:

Chemistry Kitchen Konjuring: magic tricks in the kitchen.

The Big G –  gravity magic tricks you can learn.

Sense and Sensibility visual magic, sound magic and the magic world of illusions

Are We Nearly Here Yet? – The story of the Universe, in quite a lot less than 14 billion years, taking in astronomy, geography and evolution.


Whole-school days

Several schools asked if we could just take over a day. So we did, and the results surprised everyone. As a super-special extra, we taught some of the teachers and some of the parents how to do our science magic tricks before school, then they taught the year 6 classes; then year 6 did them for year 4 (who were mightily impressed); then at going home time all the parents came and enjoyed a 45 minute funfair from all the above. The impact was astonishing.

Find out what happened when we took on an entire week HERE!

For Richard’s talks, click here;
for Jonathan’s talks, click here.

For Key Stage 3

Encouraging team work and creative thinking, the workshops can function as either a lesson or as a drop-in and run for approximately one hour.

It’s Alive!

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, we look at the science that inspired Mary Shelley to write it. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the battery had been invented and electricity was being investigated. Some startling experiments inspired the ideas that led to not only Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, but also the electric motor. We recreate some of the experiments, and the sense of wonder of the time, and also build an electro-magnet and an electric motor in which the students become part of the mechanism.

A Balanced Curriculum

A mobile-making workshop, celebrating the famous 20th century artist Alexander Calder, who invented the mobile in 1931. Calder was trained as an engineer. He would never have invented the mobile otherwise: it deals in balance and moments. So in the classes we discuss balance and moments, then they build mobiles, using the idea of the balancing objects to create original, meaningful works of art (not STEM but STEAM – that’s STEM with added Art). Creations like the ‘Balance of Power’, ‘A Balanced Diet’, the Solar System, a shark chasing a shoal of sardines etc. It’s ‘science by stealth’.

Angry Gulls

How do seagulls manage to bomb us so effectively? How do their tiny brains factor in their own forward motion and the acceleration of gravity? Did they study vectors while they were chicks? Can we design and build a delivery system of comparable accuracy? During the session the students discover the powerful blend of creative thinking and teamwork, questioning, answering, adopting, adapting, improving, experimenting, discarding and redesigning while finding the best way to drop poo on their friends’ heads. This is the physics and maths of moving bodies, also the pure engineering challenge of building them.

Capacitors, Resistors & Moog Synthesizers

This workshop explores capacitors and resistors, through the power of music – in particular the moog synthesizer. Together, the capacitor and the resistor are what makes a synthesizer synthesize. The workshop was developed over 60 sessions with 12-14 year olds. But it’ll work for anyone who would like to know a little about electronics in general and electronic music in particular.

Of All The Nerve

A Wellcome Trust supported exploration of the brain. The students each become a neuron and are wired up together to form a small brain (or ganglion). They experience thinking, practicing and learning as they attempt a simple task. They become distracted and fatigued, exactly like real neurons, and in the end they triumph. The session includes a survey of the neuron and a look at how ganglions in the eye are responsible for some optical illusions. For students 12+. 1 hour session for 26-30 people.


The Incredible Machine

(Sponsored by the Institute of Physics)
The students build a machine to send a signal around the room. Great fun, and a good test of creativity, observation, ingenuity and team-work. Explores energy, friction, mass, speed, momentum, levers, pulleys, etc. For anyone 12+. 1 hour session for groups of 30 or so, or a drop-in.

Windmill Workshop

Jonathan Hare’s workshop encourages bold thinking, planning and teamwork as they create a wind turbine powerful enough to power a radio. Best as a 1 hour session for groups of 30 or so.

Voice on a Light Beam

Jonathan Hare’s ingenious workshop shows teams of students how to transmit their voices across a room, using a simple torch beam and a tiny mirror. The mirror vibrates with the sound of the voice. The light beam therefore vibrates and the pickup translates the vibrations into sound – the voice of the speaker. A 1 hour session for groups of up to 35.

More Key Stage 3 and older workshops from Jonathan Hare are HERE