Social Science at Glasgow Science Centre

Social Science at Glasgow Science Centre

Let’s get physics, y'all!

Kirstin Innes finds out about Social Science, an evening of fun, games, science and silliness for grown-ups

There are certain ‘childish’ ways of being that we’re encouraged to leave behind when we grow up. Throwing tantrums in the street, for example, or scratching yourself there in public. Unfortunately, just simply playing, and indulging a wide-eyed sense of discovery tend also to be dropped, in favour of paying bills, say. And know what? It’s just. Not. FAIR.

Fortunately, the nice people at Glasgow Science Centre have come up with a way to let you indulge your inner kiddiwink.

‘We’ve been running a lot of events for corporations and businesses, and noticed that the participants love to come and play with the exhibits, look into all the toys and demonstrations we’ve got,’ says Ian Wilson of the Science Centre. ‘When we’re open to the public, though, we have a lot of families come in, and the adults tend to stand back and let the kids get into everything. So, we thought we’d try out an evening that we can make appealing to adults: they can come into the centre, have a glass of wine, and really enjoy playing.’

It’s a model that has been run with considerable success at London’s Science Museum: open up the whole building, exhibits, demonstrations and all, after hours between 6–9pm, offer people coming after work a drink and a buffet dinner, and showcase a series of demonstrations and hands-on events, as well as allowing grown-ups first shot at the exhibits. Scottish Ballet will kick things off with a few short excerpts from their upcoming production of The Nutcracker, there will be optional fact-finding shows demonstrating the amazing properties of substances like liquid nitrogen, and then the messy stuff begins.

‘The Glasgow Science Centre isn’t a museum,’ says Wilson. ‘We don’t say ‘don’t touch this’; we say ‘do touch this’. We’ve got a hands-on policy. All the floors will be open, you can go an play with the gyroscopes, or try out the harp with invisible strings. And we thought it might be fun to introduce an element of, ah, friendly competition to the evening…’

Ah yes. The custard run.

‘The custard run! Alright, here comes the science bit. Custard is a fixatropic liquid: a liquid with a solid suspended in it. If you move slowly through it, the liquid separates, but if you run quickly, it stays together – so technically it ought to be possible to run through a paddling pool of custard without getting your feet wet: we’re inviting people to try that theory out for themselves.’

It’s a very diverse programme for one evening. How did Wilson and his team decide which elements to put on?

‘Well, we simply consulted the periodic table!’

Was that a science joke?

‘Yes. It was. Sorry.’

Social Science, Glasgow Science Centre, Fri 27 Nov, 6–9pm. Tickets £8.25 including refreshments, special after-screening of Disney’s A Christmas Carol 3D at the IMAX, £4.50


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