Trick leaves students with heads in the clouds

Science technician Bob Thompson creates a cloud in a classroom at Millfield Science and Performing Arts College, Thornton
Science technician Bob Thompson creates a cloud in a classroom at Millfield Science and Performing Arts College, Thornton
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When these pupils had their heads in the clouds during classes, teachers couldn’t have been happier...

For young scientists from Millfield Science and Performing Arts College were mesmerised as they created clouds in their classrooms to see particle physics in action.

The science class was inspired following a school trip to the CERN large hadron collider in Switzerland.

And when physics teacher Chris Cox saw an experiment to build a cloud chamber, on a visit to the Institute of Physics, he was keen to bring the “relatively simple” device back to his classroom.

Year 11 pupil Liam Wallbank said: “We used dry ice to cool a plastic cuboid to very low temperatures, and placed a welding rod in the middle.

“The welding rod contained thorium, an actinide on the Periodic Table, which decays radioactively.

“Under an intense white light we were able to see the trail left behind by the decaying matter and further develop our knowledge of radiation and its values. The experiment was very enjoyable.”

The Thornton school bought the specialist equipment using its £10,000 cash prize won through the 2015 Young Engineers challenge, run by The Gazette and sponsored by Cuadrilla Resources and Centrica.

Senior science technician Bob Thompson said: “We are very fortunate to be able to do this experiment, it is not something we would normally do because of the cost.

“We were, however, able to have the additional benefit of using the remaining dry ice, and ran several impromptu fun demonstrations to our younger students who were mesmerized.

“It is our intention to offer the equipment to other schools on the Fylde coast, significantly reducing the cost of this experiment.”