Tag Archives: Blue Fusion

Blue Fusion, the 2009 edition

One of the first Hursley-related things I wrote about here and on the eightbar blog back in 2006 was how much I enjoy helping with our annual schools event for National Science and Engineering Week in the UK – Blue Fusion (the event website has gone AWOL at the moment but here’s a link to the press release).

This year was no exception, and referring back to my old blog entries it turns out that this is now the fifth year that I’ve been a volunteer. Unfortunately I only had room in my schedule to spend one day helping this time around, so I chose to host a school for the day rather than spending all day on a single activity (that way, I got to see all of the different things we had on offer).

So, yesterday I had the pleasure of hosting six intelligent and polite students from Malvern St James School and their teachers – they had travelled a fair distance to come to the event, but despite the early start I think they did really well.

I won’t go into too much detail and spoil the fun for people who might read this but have not yet taken part in this week’s event, but I think we had some great activities on offer. I twittered our way through a few of them. My own personal favourite was a remote surgery activity. You can’t see much in this image (it was a dark room) but the students basically had a “body” inside a box with some remote cameras to guide their hands around and had to identify organs and foreign objects.

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There was also some interesting application of visual technology / tangible interfaces – a genetics exercise using LEGO bricks and a camera which identified gene strands, and an energy planning exercise which used Reactivision-style markers to identify where power stations had been placed on a map (sort of similar to what we built in SLorpedo at Hackday a couple of years ago). We also had some logic puzzles to solve, built a, err… “typhoon-proof” (ahem) tower, simulated a computer processor, and commanded a colony of ants in a battle for survival against the other school teams.

Things I learned

  1. Facebook (not Bebo) is now where it’s at.
  2. If a tornado is coming, get out of the way or into a safe room.
  3. Girls are much better than boys at listening to multiple streams of conversation (actually I think I worked this out a long time ago!).

A now, some notes just for my team…

Here are links to a few of the other things we talked about during the day:

And most importantly, here’s the evidence that we started off in first place 🙂 and I think you were an awesome team throughout. Well done, it was brilliant spending the day with you.

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Science at work – Blue Fusion 2008

I’ve previously written about the annual Blue Fusion event that we run as part of National Science and Engineering Week at IBM’s Hursley Lab in the UK. It is one of the highlights of my year… I have been volunteering to help host school groups and run activities for a number of years now and I never fail to enjoy the time I spend on it.

Blue Fusion HostAs a volunteer, you get to choose to either host a school for the day and stay with a single group, or host an activity and see the various different teams that come around during the day. Both options have their own advantages. Yesterday I took a wonderful group around all day, so I had an opportunity to get to know the students, and also to see the whole range of activities that my colleagues have invented. Today, I spent all day on a single activity and got to meet all of the groups (well, to be fair, half of the groups, since there are two “instances” of this activity and someone else is hosting the other one). Being with one group all day definitely has the advantage of getting to know the students well and being part of the team. Seeing all the different groups though, you get to see how the teams interact and behave, which is a whole separate stream of interest.

(side note: you also get a nice badge and a t-shirt)

No monkeys this year… but we do got rubber ducks, which is a bonus.

As usual, the activities are a great mix of practical and computer-based tasks. Without giving too much away… one involves an articulated biomechanical arm (plus the aforementioned rubber ducks), and learning about muscle groups. There are some game-based activities too… the DTMF telephone game I ran today, an activity where the students have to run a taxi company, remote-controlled cars delivering medicine around a 3D body maze… it’s all great fun. The feedback we had yesterday was really good and it’s great to see the students enjoying themselves.