BLAST Science (aka ‘Brad and Lydia’s Awesome Science Team’) bring endless ebullience, enthusiasm, energy and excitement to the study of science. HOT’s Zelly Restorick spotted their poster for a series of free workshops at The Pier Hub, located on the seafront – and felt immediately drawn to find out more about who they are and what they do.
From the first few minutes of speaking to Brad on the phone, I realised that I was encountering someone with boundless energy, multiple interests and a general fascination with and enthusiasm for life. His answer-phone message ended with the words, ‘Have a nice day’ – and he sounded like the sort of guy who meant it, sincerely.
A few days later, sitting in the coziness of Brad’s living room in the cottagey-feeling terraced house in Hastings he shares with his wife, eating a crumpet with one hand and scribbling madly with the other, I listened to a flow of ‘Brad consciousness’, sentences peppered liberally with words such as ‘awesome’, ‘fantastic’, ‘discovery’, ‘interactive’, ‘playing’, ‘exploration’, ‘fun’ and ‘excitement’. Brad clearly and without a hint of doubt, loves what he does and he wants to share this enthusiasm with anyone else who’s interested!
Brad and his business partner, Lydia, met at a school science show and discovered they shared “a vision, loaded with oomph”. Soon after, Brad had to go into hospital for cancer treatment for the second time in his young life and it was this wonderful vision he said, “that was the driving force in making me better”. In March 2013, BLAST science emerged into the world, coinciding with National Science Month.
At the moment, Brad and Lydia and other BLAST Sciencers (including both their partners) are putting on a lot of birthday parties – an interesting alternative to the clown making balloon giraffes. And they work in schools, in joyful collaboration with both teachers and students. (Any teachers, parents, students out there, who’d like to collaborate with Brad and Lydia? They love this sort of work and would like more! Spread the word!)
Ask BLAST Science to your school
If someone wanted to invite you to their school, I asked, what would they get? (Here, I’m just going to type the words I scribbled down as Brad talked to me – at a tremendous rate of knots: “Firing kids up about science… Live experiments… Zany, imaginative, fun… Both Lydia and I have teaching in our backgrounds… Kids really remember the visit… Lots of crazy stuff and surprises… Some kids remember verbatim what we tell them about science… It’s really powerful… Years later, people remember…
“As a kid, you had either an awesome or a lame science teacher. This shapes how you feel about science. What we try to do is create workshops on topics that the teachers and students are studying: recycling – making stuff, environmental science, chemical, biology, where it comes from… Pitch it in the right way and kids are really interested.
“Lydia and I are both from a science communicator background”, Brad explained. “We’re not scientists, but we haven’t lost our wonder and amazement…. We’re surrounded by amazing things even in everyday life… and this is all about people discovering and exploring these things.
“I encourage kids to figure out what they want to do. Chase the things they love to do, where they’ll get out of bed in the morning and love what they do.”
What sort of topics, other than recycling? Sound and Science of Music, Rhythm and Melody; Materials: Solids, Liquids and Gases; Stuff Is Made Of Stuff – atoms and molecules. Forces and Newton. Astronomy and Planets. The Earth and Moon System. The Hydrogen Bomb. Gases – inert and flammable; the way bubbles work. And Brad learned how to make fake blood at The Science Museum, blending chocolate spread, honey, red food colouring, which kids love to mess around with and explore; he also talked about making slime and gore, fizzing colourful potions and making snot and scabs and other things, (which delight most youngsters, whereas just the words make me feel nauseous!). I’d say that Lydia and Brad are the kind of science guides, who’d be very capable of designing and delivering a tailor-made session, if there was a subject suggested.
Brad has excellent credentials; he previously worked on ‘Punk Science’ at The Science Museum in London – an experience he said was wonderful – and at Herstmonceux Science Centre in educational outreach, where he “loved the people and enjoyed the work, especially mentoring students”, which he also does with an organisation called Egg Tooth. (An ex-Conneticutt and ex-Florida guy, he’s been a Hastings resident for a few years; he’s also a drummer in local bands, Cocktail Safari – punchy, jazzy, party band quartet playing retro mash-ups -and The Fat Tuesday Second Line – an 8 piece New Orleans style brass band.)
And BLAST Science itself, young as it is, has an excellent track record in East and West Sussex; they’ve connected with over 1,000 children and their feedback on Kallikids, a Brighton website for kids, is 5/5, which is the highest ranking possible. They also offer fabulous Science Parties, attend weekly School Science Shows and will be doing a range of shows at the Brighton Science Festival. They’d also love to collaborate with cubs and scouts, brownies and guides and home-schoolers.
“We do as much as we can to inspire the kids in the time we have with them”, beamed Brad. “We’ve certainly turned on a lot of kids’ light bulbs to explore and discover science.”
(All photos by Lydia Samuel unless stated.)
Science By The Sea: Science. The Pier. The Sea. Americano Sussex Science Dude, Brad Gross and BLAST Science offer free interactive educational engaging workshops on a wide variety of scientific subjects at The Pier Hub, White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JY on the seafront.
Winter 2014 – Spring 2015: Every second Saturday of the month [13 Dec / 10 Jan / 14 Feb / 14 Mar] from 11am til 12noon and 1pm til 2pm.
Find out more about BLAST Science here or follow them on Tweet @BlastScience or on Facebook.
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