Recently in links Category


As the deadline approaches we’re, as usual, fielding lots of queries about music. I don’t know, what are you like? Reading the rules at the last minute, tsk. :-)

These two sites are terrific sources of music that you can (mostly) use. If you pick something from these, please keep a note of the page you downloaded from and the name of the track — you’ll need to tell us that information when you upload your film.

  • Kevin MacLeod’s free music archive (which, unlike just about everywhere else which says ‘royalty-free’, actually means it).
  • Free Music Archive (everything here is free, but make sure the specific license doesn’t include a ‘no-derivatives’ clause. If you’re in any doubt, drop us a query with a link to the track you want to use).

A new climate survey began last week and everyone in the UK is invited to take part. There’s a list of four things you can do to help:

  1. Look out for aircraft trails (contrails)
  2. Watch cloud movement to record wind direction
  3. Record how hot or cold you feel, and
  4. Blow bubbles to measure wind speed and direction near the ground.

Yes, you’ve read number four correctly: blow bubbles. You don’t even have to buy a bubble blowing kit — just watch this video from Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) and learn how to make your own bubble blower cone using only a couple of sheets of paper:

OK, fun and easy, but… why? It’s not as loopy as it sounds — if you blow bubbles outdoors, the way they move can help you determine airflow patterns and speed close to the ground. The meteorologists at the Met Office and the Royal Meteorological Society have written a well-illustrated field guide to show you what to do, and explain what they hope to learn from the data you and thousands of others submit.

The results from all four activities will be published on the OPAL website. You can ask experts questions about the climate, find activities, games and the latest news, and share your weather photos.

Also: lovely idea for a film, no?


One of the things I never managed to bring into the How2 studio was a rubber-powered free-flight model aeroplane. They’re amazing things: gossamer-light, profoundly fragile, yet flying slower than seems remotely possible.

Float is a documentary film that’s in production, but while we’re waiting for it — grab yourself some plans, make a simplified version of one of these models, and put together a SciCast film of your triumphs and disasters. There might be other plans out there too — I found the ones at that link after just a few minutes’ Googling.


Arvind Gupta is an Indian science communicator who specialises in making toys from the sorts of stuff you probably have lying around the house. His website is full of terrific ideas and starting points, and his YouTube channel has hundreds of films like the one above.

Pretty much any of Gupta’s ideas could be used as starting points for SciCast films. In fact, they’re very similar to the things we used to do on CITV’s The Big Bang, which was one of the inspirations for SciCast in the first place.

Get making!


When he isn’t judging SciCast, geologist Iain Stewart manages to squeeze in a series or two for the BBC. His latest starts on BBC2 tonight, and there’s an astounding sneak preview.

Iain travels to the Naica Cave in Mexico, where he and his crew battle 50°C temperatures and 100% humidity to bring remarkable footage of the world’s largest crystals, in a deep underground cavern. It’s phenomenal stuff.

I can’t embed the video, sadly, but do check out the link. You’ll be glad you did. And remember, we do have a geology category for the SciCast Awards

[update 20th Jan: 3.5 million viewers! The highest figures for a science programme on BBC2 in four years, according to the Guardian. Fantastic news — congratulations Iain!]


Here’s a terrific source of ideas — the American Science Buddies website. They have a huge catalogue of project ideas, categorised by subject area, difficulty, how long they might take, and how much materials might cost you. There are also extensive links lists to source materials, to get you started.

Projects in the vast directory range from mucking about with yeast to making your own seismograph. There are about 700 ideas in there, so you should find something to your liking.

Great stuff.

Iain Stewart on YouTube.jpg
SciCast judge Iain Stewart is often seen on our TV screens climbing volcanoes or abseiling down fault lines. But he's a veteran of the small screen, as this clip from the late 1970s reveals.

Aw, bless!
If you've seen Gever Tulley's terrific talk at TED on 'Five dangerous things you should let your kids do' (if not: watch it here), you'll know all about the Tinkering School. It's an American summer programme that helps children build things. With power tools and soldering irons and all the rest.

The School's running again, and they're blogging daily updates. Yesterday, for example, they were making bristlebots just like the ones in this film.

Worth keeping an eye on to see what else they get up to.
A treasure-trove of supplies and ideas, this. Middlesex University have been supplying teaching resources for years, including some terrific activity packs you'll find in Maplin.

I'm particularly taken with the cardboard Stirling engine kit, the samples of stainless steel microsandwich engineering material, the single-cylinder compressed air motor, and the Baird-style electromechanical Televisor kit. Great stuff.

Middlesex University Teaching Resources web shop

I’m not sure this quite fits into the category of ‘science demonstration,’ but it sure looks like fun. And it might just spark clever ideas in some of you, so: how to make a bubble tube foam-erator.

(via Make)

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