The Researchers' Night is an event bringing together the public in general and researchers. It takes place once a year on the fourth Friday of September all over Europe. Its main objective is to bring us closer to the world of scientists and science in a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. The Researchers' Night offers the opportunity to discover research facilities that are not usually open to public (laboratories, research centres, museum collections, ...), use the most recent technologies and instruments under the guidance of scientists, participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, watch demonstrations and simulations, exchange ideas and party with the researchers.
Last year, for the first time, the Researchers' Night was held at the University of Jaén, Spain.
What did we do? See:
Disseminating science to bring it closer to an audience of nonscientists is not an easy task so I decided to write an entertaining play as a vehicle for disclosing science. The choice of the title for the play is not by chance: everything is made up of chemical elements. We all are Chemistry. Furthermore, 2011 was declared by the UNESCO the "International Year of Chemistry" so I thought that the best way to commemorate it was to remember both the discovery of some chemical elements and the lives of those scientists involved in this event.
The stage adaptation of the script has been carried out by Noelia Rosa, a local actress who has worked with students belonging to the theater groups from the University of Jaén “In Vitro” and “Mamadou”, brought together for the first time to commemorate this special event. (see: http://noeliarosa.blogspot.com/p/montajes-dirigidos.html). Noelia has ensured that the actors and actresses were fully identified with the characters, some of them from different countries and in different historical contexts. All this despite its unscientific education.
Thus, the story has brought alive, among other characters, Antonio de Ulloa and the Delhuyar brothers, Fausto and Juan José, the only Spanish researchers who have been credited with having discovered, respectively, platinum and tungsten, Marie Curie and her husband Pierre who discovered two radioactive elements, radium and polonium, and scientists Dimitri Mendeleev and Lothar Meyer, who, working independently, put in order all the known elements and thereby facilitated the study of their properties, leading to the establishement of Periodic Table of the Elements that we all know and study. In addition to these scientists, the French chemist Marie-Anne Pierette Paulze de Lavoisier, the Scottish Sir William Ramsay, the British Sir Humphry Davy and the German Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, Hennig Brandt and even St. Albert the Great were also characterized.
To emphasize the educational value of the play, we have developed a few questions that we think might help study the topic of the Periodic Table and that can be answered, before the performance, during and at the end of it in class. Furthermore, the Unit Scientific Culture at the University of Jaen has edited the text of the play along with the recording of the first performance in order to bring science and its characters to the classroom and enable the play to be represented and adapted to the characteristics of students in all schools who request it. Some scenes can be seen here: http://www10.ujaen.es/conocenos/organos-gobierno/vicplan/unidadculturaci...
On the other hand, some of the questions that could be done would be:
1. Who is Ana, the woman who asked Mendeleev at the beginning of representation?
2. Mendeleev visited Spain on occasion according to the story?
3. What chemical element can be found in an ancient sword?.
4. What chemical element can be found on a bracelet?.
5. What religious order belonged Saint Albert the Great?
6. What element found Saint Albert the Great?
7. What andalusian city was born Antonio de Ulloa, discoverer of platinum?
8. What brothers discovered tungsten?
9. What is the chemical symbol for tungsten?
10. How died the husband of the woman who speaks from the table, Marie Lavoisier?
11. What chemical reaction studied together?
12. How many elements discovered the English scientist Humphry Davy? Write the symbol of some of them.
13. What laboratory tool was invented by Professor Bunsen?
14. What German university investigated together Mende and Meyer?
15. What is the name of the German university in which Meyer and Mende investigated together?
16. Write the name of one of the elements discovered by Scottish scientist Ramsey
17. What two radioactive elements were discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie?
18. How many daughters had Marie Curie?
19. Who of them also won a Nobel Prize with her husband?
20. List three elements whose name has its origin in a country
21. What element has been the last to be named by IUPAC?
From its debut in the Researchers’ night, the play “YOU ARE MADE UP OF ELEMENTS” has been also performed in the main auditorium of Jaén-Spain “Infanta Leonor Theatre” and in the main auditorium of University of Jaén during the XIth Science Week with a numerous audience and an excellent critical acclaim.
Now, after this successful initiative, we hope that both Chemistry teachers and students feel encouraged to bring science and its characters, from the most famous to the least known, into the classroom by using theater as a vehicle, as we have done. There can be no better way of motivating our students to read, study, develop speaking abilities, overcome shyness, eliminate stress and inhibitions, discover the importance of teamwork, and of fostering their imagination and creativity than by turning them into the protagonists of a discovery, of its own learning process throught a theatrical performance.