Last Saturday saw hundreds of children and adults streaming through the rain-swept entrance of the University of Cambridge’s Fun Lab marquee on Parker’s Piece in the heart of the city.
The Fun Lab certainly lived up to its name and it was fantastic to see so many young people and their families enjoying the hands-on activities"
The event was part of the Big Weekend, a three-day free festival organised by Cambridge City Council with events that included welcoming the Olympic Torch Relay. Departments from across the University, the Medical Research Council, ARM, and Napp Pharmaceuticals came together to offer hands-on activities for all ages, from make your own fossil to skull and skeleton snap.
Run by the University’s Public Engagement Team, all activities in the Fun Lab were free, offering entertainment and an opportunity to learn for all the family. Napp sponsored the Fun Lab and offered chromatography to separate the dyes in felt pens and paper ’brain’ hats among other activities.
The make your own ’fossil’ event, offered by the Sedgwick Museum, gave children an interactive opportunity to learn about how fossils form. Although the real-life process takes millions of years, this version sped things up by using plasticine and plaster of Paris, leaving the children with their own fossil creations to take home. Some fossils were far from traditional, including Lego men. Fossil making was described by parents as a big hit and great fun.
Cambridge University’s Sport Department provided three activities relating to Olympic and Paralympic sports in preparation for the Torch arriving that evening and the upcoming Games. Wobble boards, a batak wall and a vertical jump focused on sporting attributes such as balance, reaction time and explosive leg power inviting children to put themselves to the test and burn off some excess energy. The Millennium Mathematics Project complemented the sports activities with leaflets showcasing their online learning resources as part of the ’Maths and Sport’ project.