10am - 5pm, Saturday 16th March


What is Crash, Bang, Squelch?
Crash, Bang, Squelch! is a day of hands-on science experiments held in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge as part of the annual Cambridge Science Festival. The event is run by student society Cambridge Hands-On Science (fondly known as CHaOS) and aims to show children and their families that science can be interactive, exciting and fun! We take over the department teaching lab and fill it with cool experiments, each of which is demonstrated by a friendly and enthusiastic student volunteer. The first Crash, Bang, Squelch! was run in 1998, and since then it’s become bigger every year, with 2013 being the busiest yet; we were full to capacity all day! The full programme of 7 lectures again proved to be popular with our visitors.

What can visitors expect?
We have over 60 different experiments, covering all aspects of science; biology and the human body, chemistry and geology, and physics and engineering. Each experiment is staffed by a student volunteer who will explain the science behind the fun demonstration. We work really hard to make sure that our demonstrations and explanations are tailored to fit the child and their family, giving each of our visitors a unique interactive experience!

New for 2013!
An experiment to test sugar concentration in fake blood samples using a blood glucose meter, and learn about the different types of diabetes. A demonstration about different blood groups and why it is important to match blood for transfusion. An experiment to demostrate how urinalysis tests

are used to diagnose diseases such as urinary tract infections and kidney stones. A set of mind-bending prism goggles to show how well our brains can adapt to new sensory inputs. We also hosted a visiting computer science experiment demostrating programming using a Raspberry Pi microcomputer.

CHaOS talks at Crash, Bang, Squelch!
We ran seven talks for the second time in 2013. The talks were again very well attended, and inbetween the crashes and bangs, there was a lot of opportunities for the audience to participate! David Bebb, a veteran of CHaOS, who works for the Cambridge Science Centre, gave a talk entitled Water: the weird and wonderful wet stuff. Nunu Tao and Raghd Rostom, undergraduate Natural Sciences students, investigated the proteins, DNA and other strange and exciting things found inside cells. Sonja Dunbar, a biochemistry PhD student and broadcaster for the online science magazine SciCam, gave an interactive talk about food chains. Lia Chappell, a PhD student at the Sanger Institute and president of the Cambridge University Outreach Network, gave two talks: Are we alone? and Parasites: unwelcome visitors in your body, using possibly the largest microscope slide ever seen in the Zoology Department! Lia Chappell and Philip Garsed, a PhD student in the Engineering Department, gave a talk about cryptography and explained the fundamentals of the internet using paper aeroplanes. Will Benfold, an undergraduate studying physics at Downing College, gave a talk including tornadoes and a giant capacitor!

What did our visitors think?
160 groups of visitors filled out a questionnaire about Crash, Bang, Squelch! Here’s what they told us: The event was: 76%


The experiments were: 93%

We learnt: 86%


We stayed for: 33%
30 min 1h



“The kids love the big bangs and anything gooey.” “We learned so much!” We really liked the enthusiasm of most of the demonstrators and their ability to relate explanations to different ages and abilities.” “More sand please – so a person can float in it! And more fire!” “It’s fantastic. Very enjoyable, thank you!”


of respondents said they would come again

“We thought it was excellent and will be back in future years as our child gets older.” “The variety and number of experiments is great and is pitched at the right level for ages of kids.” “We would like to thank CHaOS for such a fantastic event!” “Can we re-book now for next year?”


of families had been to the event in a previous year

The CHaOS committee would like to thank:
The University of Cambridge Department of Zoology for allowing us to use their lab and lecture theatres. Neal Maskell, Nanna Evers, Ian Goldstone and Susie Wan in the Department of Zoology for all their help and support in the run up to and during the event. Tarun Kumar in the Department of Zoology and Harry Druiff in the Department of Physics for their help with experiments. Neil Stanford for electrical safety testing all the CHaOS equipment. The Cambridge Science Festival team for all of their help with organisation and publicity. The Science Festival stewards who helped us keep visitors moving smoothly and their numbers steady throughout the day. All of the student volunteers who gave up their time to be part of the event. Everyone who came as a visitor!

Crash, Bang, Squelch! 2013 was kindly sponsored by: