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UEA chemist hopes for positive ‘reaction’ during Malaysia trip

This week, a University of East Anglia (UEA) scientist has travelled to Malaysia with his ‘Kitchen Chemistry’ science show, to inspire children and encourage them to study and pursue scientific careers.

Dr Stephen Ashworth, a lecturer from the School of Chemistry at UEA has taken his dramatic ‘Kitchen Chemistry’ science show to nine schools in Malaysia, which uses everyday materials and simple equipment to demonstrate basic chemical principles.

He flew out to begin his trip on Saturday 21 April and will be visiting schools in Kuala Lumpur, Kutching, Miri and Kota Kinabalu this week.

His aim is to increase interest in science, specifically chemistry, among secondary school children and encourage them to consider sciences courses in further and higher education.

‘Kitchen Chemistry’ was first developed in 2010 and is a series of demonstrations such as burning fuel in air, known and the ‘whoosh bottle’ because of the characteristic noise it makes. The experiment ‘exploding custard’ which extracts the energy from a sample of cornflour is also included.  

Students also receive information about INTO UEA which offers academic preparation courses and English language programmes designed specifically for international students. These courses help prepare students for entry to University in the UK and for living and studying in a university environment.  

This trip is part of a number of outreach events which Dr Ashworth takes part in across the UK, and further afield in South Africa, Mauritius and Mozambique.

Dr Ashworth, said: “Many people see science as inaccessible and something which can only be studied by the most intelligent students. Science is all around us and carrying out everyday tasks draws on scientific principles. This is something I hope these shows bring to life.

“My audiences can connect with these practical demonstrations because they involve familiar items to produce spectacular visual effects. I combine the experiments with theatre as much as possible so it might even be termed edutainment.

“For the majority of the audiences here in Malaysia, the show is different from anything they have ever seen before. They have no idea what to expect, but soon engage and respond to the unexpected results that I produce.

“When I travel to schools across the world I always find children react really positively and want to know more, nothing can be more satisfying than that.”