What is CHaOS?

CHaOS is Cambridge Hands-On Science, a voluntary student group based in Cambridge. We believe that science is fun, and relevant to everyone! CHaOS take our wide range of hands-on science experiments to a variety of venues around the country, with our enthusiastic student demonstrators explaining what each experiment shows and why it's interesting!

  • For more information about us, see the "About CHaOS" page
  • If you're a teacher and would like CHaOS to visit your school, see the Schools page
  • If you're a family see what events are near you on our on the Families page
  • If you're a student volunteer see how you can get involved on our Volunteers page
  • If your organisation might be interested in supporting CHaOS, please see our Sponsors page

Crash, Bang, Squelch! Saturday 17th March 2012

On Saturday 17th March 2012 CHaOS will take over the zoology labs of the University of Cambridge for a day for Crash, Bang, Squelch!, inviting in over 2000 visitors to see lots of exciting hands-on experiments from all areas of science.

To add to the fun, in the lecture theatre next door, there will be a series of talks, with some high powered experiments that can't be done in the hands on lab! See below for more details!

Picture of Crash, Bang, Squelch! 2011

Lots of hands-on experiments to try!

The hands-on event is open from 10am-5pm, and is absolutely free. Drop in any time, there's no need to book in advance, although in busy periods timed tickets may by issued for later in the day (we are likely to run out of tickets before the end of the day, so get here early to avoid disappointment). We'll have around 50 different experiments, each of which will be demonstrated by a friendly student volunteer!

Exciting demonstrations can be seen in our lectures!

This year we're running 7 exciting talks in addition to the hands-on activities that are part of "Crash, Bang, Squelch!" on Saturday 17th March 2012! These talks will be full of fun demonstrations that are too explosive/messy/tricky to fit into our normal hands-on sessions next door!

Each talk will last around 30-40 minutes, and is suitable for ages 8+. The talks run in the main lecture of the Zoology Department, and the directions are similar to the main "Crash, Bang, Squelch!" event. Last year these talks filled up fast, particularly towards the end of the day, and we run admission to the talks on a "first come, first served" basis.

The talks this year are:

09:45am - High voltage science: sparks and more! By Dave Ansell (also of the Naked Scientists!)
10:45am - What happens if you cut off a blood supply? By Alex Davies
11:45am - Roses are Red, Violets are Blue: a look at colour in the natural world. By Sonja Dunbar
1:00pm - The science of the atmosphere. By David Bebb
2:00pm - Sounds Like Science! By Philip Garsed
3:00pm - Living things: what's inside a cell? By Lia Chappell
4:00pm - Gases: just load of hot air? By Dave Ansell

About the speakers:

  • Dave Ansell is a CHaOS fanatic, also well known for his work with the “Naked Scientists”
  • Alex Davies is studying Biology at Clare College
  • Sonja Dunbar is a recent graduate in Plant Sciences
  • David Bebb is a recent graduate in Chemistry.
  • Philip Garsed is a PhD student in the Engineering department studying Electrical Engineering
  • Lia Chappell is a PhD student at the Sanger Institute researching the genes of Malaria parasites

2011 CHaOS Summer Roadshow Report

Now that our 2011 Summer Science Roadshow has finished, we've collated our diary, photos and visitors comments into our Summer Roadshow report.

You can read about our visits to schools, showing our exciting hands-on experiments to primary and secondary school children in Gloucestershire, Cheshire and Staffordshire. We also report on our eight events that were open to the public, where our enthusiastic team of demonstrators from the University of Cambridge explained the science behind our experiments to visitors of all ages.

CHaOS would like to thank everyone who was involved in the 2011 Roadshow including our demonstrators and all the helpful people in schools, halls and community centres. The Roadshow couldn't have run without the financial support of our sponsors:

CHaOS at PhysicsFest 2011

On Sunday 4th December, CHaOS will be taking part in PhysicsFest 2011 at Claydon High School in Ipswich. As well as all our usual exciting hands-on experiments, there's going to be great talks from Dave Ansell and Maximilian Bock and lots more! The event will be running from 2pm - 5pm and we can't wait to see you there!

CHaOS at the Cherry Hinton Festival

On Saturday 17th September 2011 CHaOS took part in the Cherry Hinton Festival, which takes place about two miles outside the city centre of Cambridge.

CHaOS seem to be remembered for our help saving some tents flying away: read more in the Cambridge Evening news article here.

CHaOS in a Cambridge Pub...

This autumn CHaOS president Lia Chappell took some of the best CHaOS experiments to an entirely new place: a Cambridge pub! As part of the "Skeptics in the Pub" series of talks, held each month or so in the Maypole pub, there was a great excuse to bring science experiments to an adult audience, even if it did mean covering an area in cornflour...

Read more about the Skeptics in the Pub event here
And check out the podcast here

CHaOS in many places!

CHaOS has done a few bits and pieces all over the summer, so we've gathered a few of these together here!

Aaron Barker wrote about his experiences on the CHaOS Science Roadshow in the Cambridge science magazine "BluSci" (issue 22, Michaelmas 2011). You can read his article "Away from the bench: Skeletons and Flame tornadoes" here.

Chris Lennard wrote about joining the CHaOS Science Roadshow for a week in his blog here. Chris is involved in an effort to establish a permanent science science centre in Cambridge that's being supported by a number of members of the CHaOS team. Click here to find out more about the project.

Lia Chappell gave a presentation about the CHaOS Science Roadshow at the "Making the Most of Festivals" event, in Cambridge on July 12th 2011. This was run for the National Centre for Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement. You can find out more about this event here.

Winter Roadshow - CHaOS visits to Cambridgeshire Schools in December

CHaOS visits schools in the Cambridgeshire area in early December each year- please read below and get in touch if you'd like a visit from the CHaOS Science Roadshow!

Quick links

This information is available to download as a pdf document here.
(If you’d like a visit, but you’re not in Cambridgeshire or can’t manage December, we’d still be happy to try to come to see you – but please fill in this form here instead!)

What is CHaOS?

CHaOS runs science roadshow events full of fun, hands-on science experiments in schools for children in school year 5-8 (ages 8-13). CHaOS events are run by student volunteers from the University of Cambridge, who are studying a range of science-based subjects. We believe that science is exciting and relevant for everyone, and want to spread our enthusiasm!

Microscope in school

When is the CHaOS Science Roadshow visiting schools?

The CHaOS Science Roadshow is plans to visit Cambridgeshire schools in the first week of December - just after the end of the undergraduate term, when most of our volunteers have finished their lectures and courses).

CHaOS Summer Science Roadshow 2011

    About the CHaOS Summer Roadshow

    This summer, the CHaOS Roadshow will again be heading across the country for over four weeks in July/August. As well as visiting schools, we'll be running free public events in venues in Gloucestershire, the North-East, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire.

    All events (except school visits) are free and open to the public from 12-5pm unless otherwise stated below. Drop in any time to see some exciting hands-on science experiments!

    Click here for our press release page.

Image: Map of roadshow route

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about our events, including any questions about accessibility of venues. We'd be particularly keen to hear from you if can help publicise our events in any way (newsletters, posters, newspapers, radio etc), and can give you material if you get in touch. (Click here for our press release page.)

The Roadshow Route

Tuesday 5th -Thursday 1st July: Visiting schools in Gloucestershire
Saturday 9th July: Free public event, 12-5pm
George Watson Memorial Hall, Tewkesbury
Barton Street, GL20 5PX
[Venue website]
Sunday 10th July: Free public event, 12-5pm
Subscription Rooms, Stroud
Kendrick Street, GL5 1AE
[Venue website]
Tuesday 12th-Thursday 14th July: Visiting schools in Cheshire
Saturday 16th July: Free public event, 12-5pm
Brainwave11, NETpark, Sedgefield
Thomas Wright Way, TS21 3FD
[Venue Website]
Sunday 17th July: Free public event, 12-5pm
Newcastle Upon-Tyne
Murray House, Diana Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne. NE4 6BQ
In collaboration with Newcastle Science City’s Community Science Team
Tuesday 19th -Thursday 21st July: Visiting schools in West Midlands
Saturday 23rd July: Free public event, 11-4pm
Wellingborough Museum
12 Castle Way, NN8 1XB
[Venue website]
Sunday 24th July: Free public event, 12-5pm
Rushden Community College
Hayway, Rushden, Northamptonshire NN10 6AG
[Venue website]
Tuesday 26th July: Home Education Festival, HESFES 2011
HES FES is the world's biggest gathering of home educating families.
[HESFES website]
Wednesday 27th July: Free public event, 12-5pm
Thetford (Carnegie Room)
Carnegie Room, Cage Lane, Thetford, IP24 2DS
[Venue website]
Friday 29th July: Free public event, 11-4pm
Kettering (Market Place)
Kettering Market Place and Parish Rooms, Sheep Street, Kettering
[Venue website]
Saturday & Sunday 30th-31st July: Heckington Show
The show, and CHaOS event, are open 9.30 am - 6.30 pm on Saturday 30th and 9.30 am - 5.30 pm on Sunday 31st. Day entry to the showground costs £7 for adults and £2 for children aged 5-16 (under-5s are free), with free parking. Once inside, visiting the CHaOS marquee is absolutely free.
[Show website]
Tuesday 2nd - Friday 5th August: Scout Jamboree
CamJam is a scouting jamboree held in Cambridgeshire, and will attract 1800 visitors in the week
[CamJam website]

Visit our sponsors:

Image: Logos for sponsors

CHaOS at the Cambridge Science Festival 2011

CHaOS once again enjoyed running a series of events at this year's Science Festival, which was packed out with visitors on both of the main Saturdays. On Saturday 19th March, "Crash, Bang, Squelch!? was full to its fire capacity all day, and five spectacular talks run in the lecture theatre next door were also very well attended. The following weekend, a selection of our physics experiments were out again as part of Physics Zone at the Cavendish Laboratory, with many hundreds of people coming through the door during the day. Click here to view a copy of our report.

What is "Crash, Bang, Squelch!"?
"Crash, Bang, Squelch!" is a day of hands-on science experiments that takes place in the University of Cambridge Dept of Zoology each March, and is run by the student society Cambridge Hands-On Science - more fondly known as CHaOS. On one Saturday in March we take over the large teaching labs, filling them full of fun, interactive science experiments, each of which is demonstrated by a friendly student volunteers. The first "Crash, Bang, Squelch!" took place in 1998 and we've continued to develop the event each year. We said last year that 2010 was our busiest ever event, but this was also true this year, as we opened our doors for an extra hour to let more people in! We also ran extra talks in the lecture theatre too.

Science Communication Conference 2011

Please read this for a summary of the case study presented at the British Science Association Science Commuincation Conference 2011.
These notes are available as a pdf document here.

Volunteering with CHaOS

British Science Association Science Communication Conference 2011

Presented by Lia Chappell (CHaOS President 2010-11) and David Bebb (CHaOS committee member)

Cambridge Hands-On Science (more fondly known as CHaOS) is a volunteer organisation based in
Cambridge that aims to bring fun, hands-on science experiments to children and families. CHaOS is
run entirely by student volunteers from the University of Cambridge, and expects to see over 7,000
people this year in schools and in public events. These events are run both in Cambridge itself,
where we see 2,000 people at our largest one-day event, and in areas as far apart as Devon and
Scotland during our month-long Summer Roadshow.

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