Saturday 18th March was an event we had been looking forward to for a while – the Southampton University Science and Engineering Festival (SOTSEF). SOTSEF is Southampton University’s grand finale to UK Science Week and draws large crowds to the university, with a wide range of activities for all ages.
Together, we planned a series of demonstrations and activities with Argon, from creating crystals to driving reactions using “tweezers”. Using the iOS version of the app (soon to be released on the app store!) as well as the standard Mac version, three of us were able to introduce our virtual chemistry lab to several hundred people.
We learnt a lot about how the app works, and how to introduce it to people. In particular, we found that although the audience may not have understood the mathematics behind adding gaussians, they were able to understand the effect they had on the system easily. We were also able to identify a few bugs with the Windows version of the app, and hope to have those fixed soon! Again, a big thanks to our audience for the amazing feedback, we will definitely implement a few of your ideas in future.
Our next event is a big one – Cheltenham Science Festival! The exact dates are yet to be determined, but we already have plans to ensure that the app will be better than ever. We hope to see you there!
On the 21st of February we took Argon out on the road for the first time with a stall at Winchester Science Centre. As part of the half term event, Southampton students and staff were invited to present ways of engaging their research with the public.
Four of us went along with iPads and laptops in hand, showcasing the world of molecular dynamics in an interactive way. With an incredibly varied audience, we were able to understand how different aspects of the app came across. The younger members of the audience particularly enjoyed the voice activated elements, while those older were interested in how you could design your own potential.
The wide range of people at the event led to some pretty interesting encounters. For instance, explaining the basics of cell membranes to someone for ten minutes, before realising they were a Professor of Pathology! Despite stiff competition from ‘Mirror Madness’ and a giant Newton’s cradle, we found that we were constantly surrounded by people who were interested in the app. Getting all of their feedback was great, and we will definitely take it forward for development in the future.