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Exploding Pumpkins Turn Kids to Chemistry

Originally Published 19 March 2003

The University of Warwick are using exploding pumpkins to interest kids in chemistry. Over 70 pupils from the Midlands will take in part in a "Mystery Challenge" and watch pumpkins explode to capture the fun of chemistry at the Salters' Festival of Chemistry at the University of Warwick on 25th March. Each school will be represented by a team of four 11-13 year olds.

During the morning the teams from 18 schools will take part in a competitive, hands-on activity that involves correctly solving a puzzle using forensic science and scientific supporting evidence. In the afternoon, they will compete in a "University Challenge" - to make a chemical stopwatch using only simple materials. This will be followed by a fun lecture, by Dr Stefan Bon, from the Department of Chemistry, involving lots of bangs and crashes and exploding pumpkins.

Dr. Rob Deeth, from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick, said: "The hands-on opportunities provided at the Festival will show how much fun chemistry can be. We recognise the value of getting pupils involved in science at an early age and showing them that it is worthwhile and interesting. Hopefully, we are helping to develop the scientists of the future, which has obvious implications for the economy."

The day will end with a prize-giving at which the winning teams will be awarded cash prizes for their schools, and individual prizes for each team member.

The Salters' initiative shows young people how interesting chemistry can be by providing the opportunity for students to experiment with 'hands-on' chemistry, where there may be limited opportunity within the curriculum. Pfizer Ltd, AstraZeneca plc and Elementis have helped fund the Festival.

For more information please contact:
Dr. Rob Deeth, Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 523 187,

E-mail: or Jenny Murray, Assistant Press Officer, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 574255, Mobile: 07876 217740