August Episode I: From Italian to 3D Printing to Big Bang Popcorn

Alisdair Horgen taught us the basics of Italiano per Principianti (yup, that’s Italian for Beginners) from hand gestures to arrivederci. We learnt that Italians use their hands to say many things, from “I don’t trust you” to “that seems a lie”. We also learnt the correct spelling of ciao, numbers, months, places and even had a few conversations in groups. By the end of the class, tutti abbiamo parlato italiano come siamo nati in Italia! Alisdair then deftly took us to Chess Strategy: Knights of the Chequered Table. After a brief history – did you know that chess started in India and that in communist Russia there were government funded chess schools? – we got down to the real business of learning how to up our games. The intricacies of castling, the difference between good and bad bishops, and the rule that says a pawn that attempts to ‘sneak’ past an opposing piece is forfeit, as long as the opposing player calls it out straight away!

DSC01071Jenny Zhang from Vera Chan on King Street was back with us again to show another group of people the simple techniques of making your very own Glass and Paper Jewellery! Everything from pendants to cufflinks to rings were being made all around The Mule – it was good fun too! Best of all, you could put whatever you fancy as the paper – fancy patterns, snippets from magazines or even a picture of yourself! More paper art followed with frogs, three-headed cranes and surgical stents the theme in Origami: The Ancient Papercraft. Not only did Ronan Burder teach us how to fold our own origami creations, but he showed us how these very old techniques and being applied in modern technology: from medicine, to space travel! 

Next week was National Science Week, and we welcomed back Scott Phillips from The Robots are Coming to come and remind us about how awesome 3D Printing is! He had his two trusty workhorse machines going at the front showing people first-hand exactly how the technology works. Scott also shared with us all the current and future applications – like printing an organ or even a full size house!

P1210517Asteroid Hunting with Peter Lake was a great class about Citizen Science, astronomy and of course asteroid hunting! We learnt why Citizen Science (everyone getting involved in science observation and investigation) is important and took us through a few projects in the field of astronomy. Then we learnt about asteroids, and got to help track a specific 500m wide one called (101955) 1999 RQ36 to help the OSIRIS-Rex mission. Peter McKay then presented his class, The Mind Body Connection, beginning by asking everyone to define the mind and the body: it’s harder than it seems, and the lines blur a lot as you try to pin them down! He then took us through the psychology underpinning these concepts, and showed us how intimately and ultimately entangled they are.

P1210549To end our Science Week classes, we went on a fascinating (and delicious) time journey through the history of the universe with Chris Lassig in Kitchen Cosmology. With one billion years passing every four minutes we recreated the Big Bang with popcorn, explained the expanding universe with pudding and talked about dark matter, dark energy and the collision of galaxies with rich chocolate tarts.