Science Week at Irchester: The Squashed Tomato Challenge and Professor Tim!

To celebrate Science week Irchester School has been very busy! this blog we will tell you about the Squashed Tomato Challenge and Professor Tim’s Science Show, more to come later about what we got up to in class, and the time capsule homework bags!

Firstly, Lab_13 went to Wollaston secondary school for the Squashed Tomato Challenge. We went to examine the other entries from Higham Ferrer’s Junior School, Wollaston Secondary and Irchester Primary School. What is the squashed tomato challenge? You may ask, well it is a challenge where some farmers in Nepal need help finding a new way to get their tomatoes down a mountain.

We gave a presentation about why the charity Practical Action created their inventions and about the problems, situations, solutions and about the farmers in Nepal. The best farming ground is on the mountain slopes, but they have to get the tomatoes and other crops down the mountain to market while they are still fresh. Practical Action have installed giant aerial ropeways, that the farmers can load up with crops which then wizz down the zip wire in minutes rather than hours.

The teams from all the different schools set up their ideas for the squashed tomato challenge [they were really cool]. Some of us in the committee judged and the rest were busking and showing the other schools some different experiments.  We also set up our own model of the real ropeway. We voted and found out the winners, who were a team from Higham Ferrer’s Primary School.


On Thursday in Science Week, we had 2 scientists come in – Professor Tim and Doctor Johnny – to perform an assembly. They are from the Chemistry Department of Bristol University. They spoke to us about what kinds of gas are in the air, and gave us some examples by using all kinds of equipment: rubber gloves, dry ice, liquid nitrogen, balloons etc. One of the things he did was he filled a balloon with hydrogen and set it alight using a match, causing it to burst into flames and create a loud bang. He then explained the difference between hydrogen and helium, which is that hydrogen floats and explodes, but helium floats and doesn’t explode.

good explosion

Shaking up 2 unknown chemicals, the Professor showed us that after they were fully shaken up, they would transform colours, into red and blue. They then changed back into their original colour after a little while. He told us that this reaction is reversible. The exploding balloon was irreversible because it can’t change back to unexploded!

After around 15 minutes of different experiments, a handful of dry ice was placed into a rubber glove, to show us how much it would expand. In the space of about 10 minutes, the glove was approximately the size of a large football! This happened because the dry ice is solid carbon dioxide which expanded into a gas in the warm room. After the show, Professor Tim came to the lab and we showed him around.

good vapour


About lab13network

Lab_13 is a space in a school managed by pupils for pupils to conduct their own research and experiments driven by their curiosity, imagination and enthusiasm, and under the watchful supervision of a Scientist in Residence (not a teacher!!).
This entry was posted in Irchester, Lab13. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s