Spectacular science from Dr Hal

A boat floating on air. Make your own glow sticks. Voice-changing gases. These were just three of the fascinating experiments performed by Dr Hal Sosabowski when he came to the Royal Alexandra and Albert School on Tuesday 17th December. Dr Hal is a Principal Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Brighton.

Dr Hal, and his two assistants brought science to life with a non-stop series of entertaining experiments in the School Chapel. Pupils aged seven to thirteen were enthralled as he mixed liquids to make glowing test tubes using the same process that is used in creating glow sticks. There was also a magical colour-changing liquid that changed from clear to dark blue and back again.

Pupils learnt about the properties of gases when Dr Hal performed experiments with Sulphur Hexachloride gas, which is 6 times heavier than air, and Helium, which is lighter than air. They watched as teacher held two balloons which were both the same size – one filled with each of the gases. When they were released, one floated right to the top of the Chapel ceiling and the other dropped to the floor. A foil boat was then placed in a glass tank that was half filled with the clear gas, Sulphur Hexachloride. The boat was lighter than the gas so it appeared to float in the air.

There was a brief moment when Dr Hal attempted to audition for the X Factor after inhaling gases. Dr Hal, who had inhaled Sulphur Hexachloride, found his voice had become very deep and his assistant, Dave, had inhaled Helium and his voice had become very high. It was comical but it is unlikely they will win a talent show with their song!

Head of Science, Sarah Leeton said “Dr Hal and his team have demonstrated the potential of science in a very entertaining way. There were some mind-blowing experiments that raised a lot of questions and pupils really wanted to know more about how they worked. The interest raised by this event is sure to raise the level of enthusiasm about science in the School.”

18th December 2013

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