14 January 2022. Brought to you by Chris Hamlett.

CoCoMicro Box

We ran the CoCoMicro Box project during the Summer of 2021 through which we supplied 240 primary and secondary school pupils (ages 10-12) in south Birmingham with their very own science boxes that included all of the equipment to carry out the investigations described in the CoCoMicro Booklet that we developed to introduce them to Materials Science and the structure of materials (the booklet can be downloaded here ).

CoCoMicro Booklets
The CoCoMicro Booklets

The booklet to provided the students with an introduction to materials science by helping them appreciate the world around them by thinking of what  everyday objects are actually made of via a materials scavenger hunt. The box contained a clip-on microscope lens to allow them to look at materials at x60 magnification. They were then introduced to the building blocks of materials by thinking about crystal growth and recrystallization by using the clip-on microscope lens. Crystals were introduced as arrangements of atoms and equipment was provided for the students to make bubble rafts to try to recreate ‘2D crystals’.

CoCoMicro Box
The contents of a CoCoMicro Box.

The chemistry of bubbles was then investigated by use of different ways of generating gas (using the citric acid / sodium bicarbonate reaction and by hydrolysis using a 9V battery) and by capturing these gas bubbles using surfactant solutions / washing up liquid). Finally, instructions were given for two way of making us of bubble generation by making bath bombs and fizzy rockets.

All of the equipment and chemicals needed to carry out all of the activities in the booklet along with a lab book so they could write down what they found out.

One of the teachers, with whom we worked, said “Thank you so much for organising the CoCoMicro Boxes.  The year 7s were thrilled to receive them.  The activity selection was engaging and the quality of equipment was fantastic. This has allowed the students to carry out their own investigations at home, highlighting the fact that science doesn’t just take place in labs. Hopefully this will lead to increased enthusiasm for learning science and will inspire more of students to take up careers in material science and other STEM careers.”

Packing the van 2

In order to engage the wider community we adapted the CoCoMicro Booklet and drew up an euqipment list which we

made available at the CoCoMicro Box live event in Cotteridge Park (more information on this can be found here) and ran a live, online session during September 2021.

The project was kindly supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry through their Outreach Fund Grant Scheme.