The Modern Alchemist

When I was a child my mother and I used to frequent the theatre often. I saw many of the classics, Gypsy,Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the Roof, before I even knew what a classic was. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to keep up the tradition with my children being as I have so many and theatre tickets are really expensive. Whilst at the library I came across a flyer advertising The Modern Alchemist, a science event aimed at children staged in Harrogate’s glorious Royal Hall. Big bangs and fun proclaimed the flyer. The Modern Alchemist tour follows the popular 2012 Christmas Lectures held by the Royal Institution presented by University of Cambridge chemist, Dr Peter Wothers. The series, shown on BBC Four over Christmas, proved so successful that the Royal Institution and Dr Wothers teamed up with the Royal Society of Chemistry to put on a touring lecture show

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Over dinner that evening I enquired as to who fancied it. To my surprise everyone did and with children’s tickets only £5 each and the baby free I felt we could afford for everyone to go. I was a little concerned that the content would be too juvenile for such mature creatures as Felix and Jay and I also worried that they may heckle and ruin any big bang surprises. So we went with the rule of not to explain until after the performance . As it was I needn’t have worried. It was Sophie who knew the super saturated solution was used in hand warmers and no one guessed that tungsten was so heavy that one of the small ingots weighed half of Sophie. The performance was very hands on with children being asked to participate frequently. Jargon and processes were carefully explained at a level accessible to all and the performance was peppered with so many explosions no one had time to get bored.

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Afterwards the children chattered the whole way home about what they had seen and experienced. Even the aloof uber teenager was impressed and left musing about mobius strips and cheap travel. I would absolutely recommend this show. Maybe a little of what the children saw will stay with them and as they accept their noble prize they will say how the seed was planted whilst watching The Modern Alchemist at Harrogate Royal Hall.

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