BlueDot Festival: Bringing chemical engineering closer to home
Simplifying chemical engineering principles in a way that you can explain them to children (and most adults) is a challenge; Stuart Moon from BakerHicks' Salford Quays office took this on at this year’s BlueDot Festival.
Stuart, who is a Chartered Engineer with the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and on the committee for the Manchester Members Group, organised a group of 12 working engineers and chemical engineering students from the University of Manchester to man the IChemE stand and present to the festival goers.
The BlueDot festival, held at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, aims to bring science to life by combining science, music, art and culture within one festival. This year festival goers were treated to performances by headliners The Chemical Brothers, The Flaming Lips and Future Islands, plus talks from leading scientists such as Richard Dawkins.
Amongst all this Stuart and his team brought the complex and diverse world of projects they work on in the office closer to home with a theme of ‘Chemical Engineering in your kitchen’. They demonstrated how a hot-air popcorn maker is like a fluidised bed; showed the science of non-Newtonian fluids, cross-linking polymers with slime and compared it to dough and bread making; kitchen towel, sponges and t-shirts were used as water filters; and household fluids were used to make a density column. By showing the stand visitors something that was familiar to them and explaining the underlying scientific principle, the team aimed to make them think more about how things are made.
The idea was a big hit, the team even had to send for more supplies after just one day! Crowds of children gathered at the stand, eager to make their own slime or eat the popcorn the team had ‘fluidised’. Whilst some may well have just been there for the toys and treats, the team are confident there were a few budding engineers amongst them who were hopefully inspired enough to go into chemical engineering in the future.
Find out more about the BlueDot Festival.