Brownies star in science film

First Lurgan Brownies have become the most recent stars of the Royal Institution's ExpeRimental short film series. Pictured here are Faye Graham, Arwen Ross, Emily Bassett, Lucy Small, Suzannah Gardiner and Ruby McAllister

First Lurgan Brownies have become the most recent stars of the Royal Institution's ExpeRimental short film series. Pictured here are Faye Graham, Arwen Ross, Emily Bassett, Lucy Small, Suzannah Gardiner and Ruby McAllister

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The First Lurgan Brownies have become the most recent stars of the Royal Institution’s ExpeRimental short film series.

The local group tried their hand at experimenting with how to turn cream into butter and whipped cream.

Brownie leader Catherin Ross plus her daughter  Arwen Ross with Emily Bassett and Lucy Small

Brownie leader Catherin Ross plus her daughter Arwen Ross with Emily Bassett and Lucy Small

The Brownies, Making Butter video is the ninth in the series and has been released specially for British Science Week. All the films are free to watch and require only common household objects or cheap and easy to buy materials to do.

They explore how doing different things to cream results in different products, learning about how physical actions can affect the consistency of a substance. To make butter, they shake a jar of double cream that has been left out overnight. As they shake, they feel a change in consistency, and are soon left with a solid lump of butter and a little buttermilk. Whipped cream is made by simply whisking cold cream until it becomes foamy.

Through the experiments the girls learn that milk and cream are composed mainly of water and fat. The shaking and whisking causes fat globules to interact with each other. When making butter, the fat molecules break free from their globules, and join together to form butter. Whisking adds air to cream, breaking apart the fat globules. It forms protective bubbles around tiny pockets of air and changes the consistency of the cream.

ExpeRimental aims to give viewers the confidence and ideas to explore, question and test some of the fundamentals of science with children aged four to nine. The activities have been specifically designed to appeal to those families who have never considered doing science at home with their children or who do not feel confident in their abilities to do so. All the activities require only common household objects or cheap and easy to buy materials.

Catherine Ross, Brownie leader said: “I have a strong passion for the promotion of science to Key Stage 1/2 and was looking on the internet for suitable resources to use both with my own children and my Brownies and discovered the ExpeRimental series. It interested me as I had already performed similar experiments with my unit that I had devised myself and I felt that it was probably something we could do in a group setting without incurring too much expense, and would be a fun experience for the girls as well as introducing them further to the concepts of science.”

Physics teacher and filmmaker Alom Shaha, who helped developed the project, said: “ExpeRimental films encourage viewers to go several steps further than simply carrying out the activity. As well as covering basic scientific facts, ExpeRimental focuses on developing scientific skills like observation, prediction and how to conduct a fair test. Worksheets help parents to prompt their children to look more closely at what’s happening, to ask questions and to discover the answers for themselves. These films are not just about demonstrating cool scientific phenomena and providing an ‘explanation’ but about encouraging children to explore science through play.”

Brownies opens up a world of exciting challenges to girls aged seven to 10, giving them the space to try new things and make brilliant friends. Girls take part in a hugely varied weekly programme incorporating everything from stargazing, world issues and science to abseiling,

Watch the Brownies; Making Butter video and the rest of the ExpeRimental short film series at http://www.rigb.org/expeRimental. All the films are free to watch.

The second series of ExpeRimental is supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The first series was funded by the Gillespie Trust Fund.