Tomato ketchup is the humble accompaniment to many edible things. When Laurie Campbell, in year 6, set out on his research project he did not expect to identify an alternative use for this well-known condiment...

With the help of his father, Duncan, Laurie designed a research project to answer his question ‘What things in my kitchen can make coins shiny?’ He took a number of dulled two pence coins and partially immersed them in different substances found in the kitchen, including water, vinegar, orange juice and tomato ketchup. Surprisingly, they found that tomato ketchup was the best at cleaning coins!

To find out why this was the case they researched some basic chemistry including looking at the pH of tomato ketchup, acid reactions and metallic content of the coins. To display their findings at the Bath Taps into Science Festival they made a big colourful display board showing the research process and results. Their stall showcased the coins they used in the experiment for the visitors to pick up and inspect. This interactive element provided intrigue and allowed visitors to explore and ask questions.

As a result of their efforts, Laurie won the best project in the year 6 category at My Science Fair and went on to present the project at the Bath Taps Family Science Fair. Duncan described the Family Fair as interesting, fun and a bit hectic. Note: it is important to be prepared for it to be slightly chaotic when kids meet science in a confined space!

Whilst reflecting on the process, Duncan believes it is a great experience for both parents and their children. He suggests designing a project that is fun and simple; and stresses it is important to prove or disprove a theory you have thought of. Making your display board colourful and appealing with hands-on activities helps to draw the visitors in.

The Bath Taps Family Science Fair is back on the 18th March 2017. To sign up to develop and present a stand fill out the form here or just come along and soak up the science! Check out our events pages to ketch-up with all Bath Taps into Science news...

Laurie with his science project: 'What things in my kitchen can make coins shiny?'

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