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School Hosts RSC’s Flash Bang Show

Friday, 04 December 2015

Over 900 pupils from eighteen different schools from across the North-West, including schools from Bradford, Lancaster, Stockport, Burnley and Clitheroe, attended the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Flash Bang Show with Dr Jonathan Agger at Bolton School. The Christmas Lecture ran over the course of two sittings and the spectacular show wowed the audience with a series of short flash and bang experiments that enlightened students on the world of atoms, molecules, solids, liquids and gases and featured sudden colour change, chemical, fizzes, fireworks, flashes, welding, crashes and bangs! 

The audience were kept on the edge of their seats – many of them standing for better views – as Dr Agger of the University of Manchester’s School of Chemistry talked them through a wide range of short, dramatic experiments. He “exploded bombs”, reacting hydrogen with various gases and explained the chemical reactions as he went along. He talked about the University of Manchester’s aim to break into the top 20 of research universities and its consequent development of a space programme and experiments replicating jet engines as he launched empty pop bottles into the air by burning hydrogen in oxygen.  In a striking contrast of temperatures he worked with thermite at 3,000 degrees and then liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees, enough to freeze and splinter objects. He showed how it was possible to dip a finger into the liquid nitrogen but explained how it would become frozen if left in there for any longer than a split second. 

Dr Agger demonstrated how burning boron gives off green flames and explained this was what was used to great effect in the second Lord of the Rings film. He concluded his demonstrations by burning 4 bags of Monster Munch, which gave off an impressive orange flame which, he explained, came from the sodium or salt content of the snack and he told the audience this is how companies ascertain how many calories are in a product – roughly 100 calories in each bag of Monster Munch!

The audience left thrilled, inspired, impressed and no doubt a little wiser about Chemistry.

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The audience were enthralled by a series of explosive demonstrations

The audience were enthralled by a series of explosive demonstrations - click on the photo to enlarge it

This experiment - the burning of Monster Munch - helps determine how many calories are in a product

This experiment - the burning of Monster Munch - helps determine how many calories are in a product

Over 900 pupils attended the event from 18 schools

Over 900 pupils attended the event, held over two sittings, from 18 schools