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27 November 2014

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You are in: Manchester > Science and Nature > Science & Technology > Science for 'dummies'

Boy in crash test

Crash course: understanding science

Science for 'dummies'

What does it feel like to be in a car accident? A group of youngsters have been lining up to be ‘crash test dummies’ on a Manchester summer school which is aimed at making science fun. Find out more:

SciTech runs a week-long ‘crash course’ every summer in both south Manchester and Amsterdam teaching children aspects of science in a fun and practical way.

This year, SciTech:07 is being held at Stamford Park Junior School in Hale where children aged between 7 and 13 have:

child with night vision goggles

SpyTech: the science of spying

  • been hurled through water ‘windscreens’ to teach them about inertia and momentum;
  • made a film of Cosgrove Hall’s Engie Benjy to learn about animation and the persistence of vision;
  • matched fingerprints on a ‘stolen car’ to learn about forensic science;
  • seen how microbes spread by using UV sensitive powder;
  • and learned how to be spies by using the latest surveillance equipment.

Practical science

SciTech was set up in 1991 and is the brainchild of Philip Rose, a former lecturer in computing who also suffers from dyslexia.

Mr Rose says he's used his 'gift' of dyslexia to develop a practical and visual style of teaching which avoids written texts. And he believes that not only is it more fun, it's more effective.

Phlip Rose

Making science fun: Philip Rose

"Pictures and sequences are a much more natural way of learning than books. Therefore the course is very practical. And the children learn because they’re really focusing on what they’re doing," he said.

Adding: "For instance, I was listening this morning to a little lad of eight years old who was explaining in detail to your TV reporter how you take a fingerprint. It was quite obvious that everything he’d been shown, and the science behind it, had really gone in.”

Mr Rose now goes into schools across Greater Manchester to demonstrate science in a practical way. The SciTech is course is for children of all abilities.

Course notes:

Boys sweeping for bugs

Spies: sweeping for bugs

The Crash Rig

A child dressed as a Crash Test Dummy sits on the rig which is then propelled down a track. The chair comes to a sudden stop. Because they do not have seat belts, the child is ejected from the seat and is plunged through a windscreen made from a falling curtain of water, onto a crash mat. The accident is recorded using a high speed (slow motion) video camera from Lake image systems. The children also have to design suitable safety structures to protect eggs in the crash test rig.

Forensic Science

The children retrieve clues from a stolen vehicle and analyse them using an array of specialised professional forensic equipment. This includes state of the art document analysis equipment which can detect the most sophisticated forgeries. The course is led by one of Greater Manchester Police's Forensic scientists.


Activities range from microscopy through to practical activities like trying to predict the consequences of unrestrained bacterial growth! Course program designed by Professor Peter Gilbert, an eminent microbiologist from Manchester University.

Boy doing animation

Engy: how animation fools the eye


With help from the Chorlton-based Cosgrove Hall studio, the children are able to manipulate the puppet from the pre-school TV programme Engie Benjy. The children learn the science behind and the technique of animation. Not only in 3D but in 2D and CGI.


Introduces children to the science and technology of the covert world of spying. ESKAN are a London based company who specialise in the acquisition of covert surveillance and counter-surveillance equipment which is used on a professional basis by industry and other significant organisations. They have kindly supplied several items which the children deploy, use and detect during the course of a day when they also learn about codes and ciphers.

last updated: 18/10/07

You are in: Manchester > Science and Nature > Science & Technology > Science for 'dummies'

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