Fun things to do at home – or at school!

There are three activity sheets for you to download – “Water Electrolysis”, “Chlorophyll Extraction from Leaves” and “Make Your Own Spectroscope.”  Each activity sheet includes a brief summary of the activity, an Introduction that puts the activity in context, full instructions for the activity, and a Theory section that explains some of the science.  There is also an outline of how the activity sheet relates to the UK Science Curriculum (Key Stage 3 to A-Level).  There are links to relevant BBC Bitesize webpages for further information.

All these activities can be done using everyday equipment, but are also suitable for use in schools.  Young children will need to be supervised closely, and may need help (e.g. with using scissors).  The Introduction and Theory sections are most suitable for ages 13 upwards – the Theory sections include some A-Level concepts.

Download the Activity Sheets by clicking on the links below:
Water Electrolysis: This activity demonstrates using electricity to split water to form hydrogen gas.  This activity  can be done at home but you will need two short lengths of wire, and if you have crocodile clips these will help to make the connections.
Chlorophyll Extraction from Leaves: This activity uses everyday chemicals and kitchen utensils to demonstrate the extraction of chlorophyll (the light-absorbing molecule needed for photosynthesis) from leaves.  Using a torch, you can then see the photo-luminescence (fluorescence; i.e. emitted light) of the chlorophyll when it is removed from the leaf.
Make Your Own Spectroscope: This activity uses everyday objects and tools to make a spectroscope that splits white light into its constituent colours.  You will need to print the template.


Dr Anna Hankin – Photo-electrochemical Reactor Prototype: Device design is an important factor and was addressed in a recent project ‘Solar Fuel Generators’ under the EPSRC Pathways to Impact Award at Imperial College London. An interdisciplinary collaboration between the departments of Chemical Engineering and Physics yielded a versatile reactor with an integrated triple junction solar cell photo-cathode, hematite photo-anode and an optical setup that allows double-sided illumination under real sunlight. Dr Anna Hankin presents this research at the SolarFuel16 – nanoGe conference in Berlin.#

Reisner Lab – Artificial Photosynthesis (in LEGO): Video made by the Reisner lab at the University of Cambridge. SFN funding helped to produce this video.

Solar Fuels: A very short video by the Solar Fuels Institute about why solar fuels research is so important.

An Introduction to Solar Fuels: Video made by the Reisner lab at the University of Cambridge.  This 5 minute film introduces the concept of solar fuels, why it’s important, and some of the research done at Cambridge.

Prof Antoni Llobet – Molecular Dyes and Catalysts for Artificial Photosynthesis: Prof. A. Llobet’s research group at ICIQ in Spain focuses on artificial photosynthesis, which uses sunlight to convert CO2 and water into fuel. They work in the development of light harvesting molecules, proton reduction catalysts and water oxidation catalysts.

Prof Daniel Nocera – Solar Fuels: A Solution to the Global Energy Challenge: A one hour lecture with question and answer session.  The supply of secure, clean, sustainable energy is arguably the most important scientific and technical challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. Rising living standards of a growing world population will cause global energy consumption to double by mid-century and triple by the end of the century.  The capture and storage of solar energy at the individual level can address the challenge of secure, carbon neutral and plentiful energy.

Prof Nathan Lewis – Breaking the Wall of the Global Energy Challenge: A talk on the global energy perspective, the energy challenge, and how solar fuels presents one solution to this challenge.  Nate Lewis provides a unique occasion to understand how we all as members of the scientific, political, technological, and civil society need to cooperate in order to facilitate the one and only priority of our times: saving the planet.

Dr Anna Hankin – Webinar: Hydrogen Production Using Solar Energy: The slides from a webinar hosted by the Energy Community Knowledge Transfer Network in January 2015 (full recording available soon!).  This more technical presentation compares hydrogen production by photo-voltaic powered electrolyser systems and photoelectrochemical water splitting systems.

More content to follow soon!