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We are delighted to publish a guest blog here today, from visitor to the shop, Lindsay Armstrong..

here is her article – thanks Lindsay

There are plenty of interactive science magic tricks to amaze and amuse you at the temporary 3-2-1-Ignition* Pop-Up Shop currently open in Nottingham’s Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. Designed to appeal to all ages, the ‘magic’ tricks include an optical illusion of two differently coloured boomerangs where one appears to be larger than the other when held side by side, but are actually the same size when placed on top of each other. This demonstrates that our brains can interpret visual images differently from reality and shows that we can’t always believe what we see.

The 3-2-1-Ignition* Pop-Up Shop is a collaborative project set up and managed by Ignite*, a not-for-profit company specialising in creative educational programmes, with support from a host of other partners including local universities and colleges, the NHS and various science councils. The idea of the Pop-Up Shop is to bring science into the community and debunk the myth that science is something that only happens in research labs, or on TV programmes. Science is happening all the time in our daily lives, mostly without us even realising it, and where better to demonstrate this than in the heart of a bustling city centre shopping arcade. The concept of Pop-Up Shops is not new, but the 3-2-1-Ignition* Pop-Up Shop is the first of its kind in the world in terms of making everyday science accessible to all in an interactive, fun and easy-to-understand environment.

Another trick for families to try involves adding an Alka-Seltzer tablet to some water in a small plastic container, popping the lid on, shaking it vigorously for a few seconds and shortly afterwards a loud bang pierces the air and water shoots out of the container amid much surprise followed by a round of cheers. The science at work here relies on the fact that Alka-Seltzer has effervescent properties, which in plain English means the escape of gas (in this case carbon dioxide) from a liquid. As the Alka-Seltzer dissolves in the water, carbon dioxide escapes and builds up pressure inside the plastic container which eventually blows the lid off,  blasting water upwards and outwards showering anyone in the vicinity. A similar effect can be observed when opening champagne or a bottle of fizzy drink although hopefully the lid doesn’t get blown off too often on these occasions.

In addition to the magic tricks, the shop is filled with other displays and demonstrations on all manner of interesting topics. An artistic representation of the circulatory system proves to be a huge hit with youngsters. Modelled on a larger-than-life marble run, blood cells (think marbles) are dropped into a human body at one end, passing through a variety of red and blue tubes depicting the arteries and veins, and eventually popping out at the other end tinkling musically over a xylophone – perhaps symbolising the sound that heartstrings make? In the centre of the shop, a model of the solar system dangles tantalisingly overhead while the walls contain amazing “Did you know?” facts such as the human body contains enough carbon to fill 9000 pencils and that the face-powder of choice among Victorian women contained enough arsenic to render many of its users as widows! What happens to a marshmallow when it’s put into a vacuum is a must-see.

A Tree of Knowledge in one corner acts as the visitor’s book and people are encouraged to leave their comments written on cardboard leaves which are then attached to the tree. A particularly engaging comment left by a 5-year reads, “That was awesome,” which says it all. The shop is evidently capturing the delight and imagination of budding young scientists and anyone who may have a curiosity in the science that goes on around them on a daily basis; but be quick if you want to marvel at the scientific magic of the 3-2-1-Ignition* Pop-Up shop as this temporary experiment will disappear before your very eyes on 10th November.

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