- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
On International Women’s Day I hosted the Royal Society of Chemistry drop-in event in Parliament in the Jubilee Room. Dr Sophia Mitchell from Lab Tots was there to demonstrate a series of experiments which makes Chemistry fun using everyday household ingredients. Many MPs took part in the event including the Science Minister George Freeman MP. It is vital for children to be aware of the value of science and I was pleased to champion the involvement of women in science.
In one of the experiments you could make your own glow in the dark lava lamp. it starts with making an effervescent tablet made of sodium bicarbonate, salt, icing sugar, citric acid and cornflour. A mallet is used to hammer the tablet together and the tablet is then dropped into water with baby oil in it. The tablet reacts to the water and oil and produces carbon dioxide, creating bubbles and this creates a lava lamp effect.
In another experiment we were taught how to make polymer slime and Dr Sophia Mitchell demonstrated this using a hair dryer on the slime which changed its colour and texture. It can change colour by touching it with a warm hand.
The Minister of State for Science George Freeman MP attended the event and he was taught how to make slime.
Dr Sophia Mitchell and her partner in Lab Tots Dr Ian Gameson brought in a variety of different materials and experiments for the MPs to try.
To highlight the role of women in science I tabled a series of Early Day Motions recognizing Women in Science and calling on the government to support young people, especially young women, working in scientific fields.
The list of inspirational women included: Dorothy Hodgkin who was the only British female scientist to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry; Rosalind Franklin, she led to the discovery of the structure of DNA; Beatrix Potter was the first person to postulate in a scientific paper that lichens are symbiotic life forms; Margaret Ann Bulkley (aka James Barry) was the first British woman to become a qualified doctor but she had to do that using a male name; Elizabeth Blackwell who became the first woman to receive a Doctor of Medicine degree from an American medical school in 1849; Professor Lesley Yellowlees CBE BSc PhD FRSC FRSE who became the first female President of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Ada Lovelace who is considered to be the first computer programmer because of her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer.
Dr Jocelyn Burnell (pictured below) was not allowed to study science at school because she was a woman. She was the only girl in her class of 49 as an undergraduate. Her male supervisor at Cambridge University won the Nobel Laureate in part for her research on pulsars. She discovered pulsars.