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And what the schools have to say. . .

Moira Barr, headteacher, Pinwherry Primary School, South Ayrshire: "We had Dr Bunhead's Magical Chemistry Cookbook and it was very successful, so much so that a lot of the children told me they were asking Santa for chemistry sets for Christmas.

"Like a lot of primary schools, we don't have access to a science lab and although the children probably didn't understand the principles of the experiments they were seeing, it made them want to find out more about science and the magic of it.

"The show was just one surprise after another and so well organised and presented by, I understand, the person who had originally designed it - for use by a friend of his who was a school teacher."

Adrian Ruis, depute headteacher, Royal High Primary School, Edinburgh: "Most recently, we had the Living Skeleton show for P4 and P5 because we felt knowing about the 'body bits' would be a nice lead into the sex education part of the curriculum and also fit into the local education authority's personal safety programme for P6s.

"The show looked very exciting and was well received, with certain reservations about the presenter who didn't seem entirely happy being in charge of such a large group of children, although 60 was the number specified on the information sheet.

"We've also had the sound and music show Serpents and Synthesisers which, in terms of the range of instruments we were shown and the sounds they made, was brilliant. But it was presented by a university professor whose explanations were geared somewhat over the heads of our 10-year-old pupils. . . and even the staff."

Jacqueline Sullivan, principal teacher of physics, Whitburn Academy, West Lothian: "We decided to book the StarLab and Space Show because space physics is part of Standard grade. We invited some of the older children from the primary school and some of our senior pupils as well, which meant the show had to be pitched at three different levels.

"I don't think the lecturer was too happy about that at first, because she didn't know in advance, but she did really well.

"The kids enjoyed it. They saw experiments that you couldn't do in the classroom, using liquid nitrogen, for instance - they like seeing things being destroyed! - and freezing ice poles instantly.

"The lecturer made a figure out of marshmallows and put it in a vacuum where it floated around, getting bigger and bigger. There is quite a lot of arranging to do when the show comes to your school."

Elaine Eyre, science teacher, Joan of Arc secondary school (special needs), Glasgow: "We have 80 pupils here, aged 11 to 19, who have moderate learning difficulties and really enjoy and benefit from hands-on work.

"Two years ago we took a group of boys to the Science Festival Olympiad at Jordanhill, where they took part in a MadLab workshop and got to make their own electronic gadgets, using soldering irons. It was an activity which fitted in perfectly with the science and technology part of the 5 to 14 curriculum.

"They enjoyed that so much that, last year, we got MadLab to come to us. Normally they would only send one person along with the show, but I pointed out that we were special needs, so we got two and, during the course of one afternoon, 20 of our third and fourth-year pupils each made a working electronic loop puzzle or similar gadget."

Ian Hanton, Clovenstone Community Education Centre, Edinburgh: "We get a lot of primary school age kids in on a Wednesday afternoon because the schools in this area have a half-day then. We like to lay on the kinds of activities that they wouldn't normally have access to and the volunteer committee that draws up the pro-gramme thought the Mudflap workshop on flight and weather science, where you get to make and take home your own glider, kite or whatever, sounded good.

"It went down quite well, but I think the general feeling was that we should have gone for something where there was less emphasis on the school curriculum and more on fun and informality."

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