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Paddy Cullen and Nick Zani

Paddy Cullen and Nick Zani

Who is this double act?

Paddy Cullen, 23, is a chemistry graduate from Oxford University. After his graduation last summer, he and his course mate Nick Zani, 22, co-founded Explosive Science, a programme that stages awe-inspiring experiments in schools up and down the country.

How did this come about?

"At uni we volunteered to talk to schoolchildren, telling them why chemistry is a good subject to study," says Paddy. "When we finished, we had no idea what we wanted to do."

Is this a last resort?

"No. We knew towards the end of uni we wanted to work for ourselves. We saw a newspaper article on Ofsted and health and safety and how science was becoming boring - that was our lightbulb moment. It's a concern because there are a lot of science teachers who do not have degrees in science and are scared of experiments. We wanted to rectify this."

Would you want to teach science?

"I enjoy what we do, it's great fun and the kids really like the experiments. I have never had a bad day. We go into classrooms and get children to co-operate who wouldn't normally do so for the teacher. I guess, if you're not a regular teacher, you don't have to deal with behaviour problems."

Instead, you put on a spectacle?

"We have rockets, explosions and bangs," says Paddy. "But it's not a show. It's more educative than a firework show but as exciting. We make it as interactive as possible. We set experiments up in front of them while explaining what's happening; it's not a case of 'here's something I made earlier'."

Do you follow the curriculum?

"We do. I'm an education consultant for teaching maths and science and Nick does private tuition. We create revision sessions, write guides and booklets according to the syllabus."

Are you creating scientists?

"We went to one primary school the other day, and at the end of the workshop the teacher asked: 'So, who wants to be a scientist when they grow up?' Every single member of the class raised their hand. That was amazing."

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