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Home schooling help from Gravesend astronomer

An astronomer from Gravesend has been doing her bit to help parents and carers to both entertain and educate their children.

Melissa Brobby is one of a team of science communicators from the UK’s Institute of Physics who have been producing home-made videos of science experiments that everyone can have a go at while at home.

Astronomer Melissa Brobby, from Gravesend, with her milk carton challenge (35841248)
Astronomer Melissa Brobby, from Gravesend, with her milk carton challenge (35841248)

The series, called Do Try This at Home, is the IOP's way of supporting parents and carers throughout the Covid-19 crisis, by providing high quality, educational family fun that really puts the fizz into physics.

The IOP already works with schools to develop physics teaching, and with physics teachers to support them through their careers. Now it is to using its expertise – and the know-how of its staff – to help parents and carers to inspire and educate their children at home.

From her living room, Melissa demonstrates how to make a spinning garden sprinkler, without the need for a motor or batteries, and then explains the science that makes it work.

All the Do Try This at Home experiments are available to try on the IOP’s website, with new ones being released regularly until schools reopen to youngsters of all ages.

Each experiment is scientifically robust, but can easily be carried out at home – in the kitchen, garden, bathroom or balcony – using household materials such as rubber bands, cloths and coins.

Shot on mobile phones by the IOP demonstrators in their homes, each one is designed to be interactive and comes with step-by-step instructions and straightforward explanations of the science involved.

The IOP hopes that even parents who hated science at school will get stuck in and have a go.

Melissa said: “No matter how big, or in my case how small your space is, real science can be done and enjoyed anywhere.

“These demonstration videos are a great way to get parents, carers and their children discovering the way the world works around them. I hope the beauty and simplicity of the science behind the sprinkler will ignite the same excitement for physics in children that I felt when I was a child.”

Institute of Physics school engagement manager Dr Taj Bhutta said: “The IOP has vast experience of supporting school science and physics teachers, and we wanted to put this to good use by producing online resources that we hope will help parents to have educational fun with their children.

“We live in an expanding universe that began about 14 billion years ago. Physics applies to all of it, from a few seconds after the big bang, to the birth of the first stars, through to the formation of the Earth right up to the present day.

“Our demonstrators, who come from a wide range of backgrounds, are inviting families into their homes virtually, to see for themselves how fascinating and how much fun physics can be.

“The resources are available on our website and we are going to continue to do this, to help families, for as long as is needed.”

Visit beta.iop.org/athome

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