Very Young Scientists: Why are soapy suds always white?

RDS Primary Science Fair runs parallel to BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition

Shane, Pauric and Colm, sixth class pupils from St Manchan’s National School, Tubber, Moate in Westmeath, decided to learn why soap bubbles always seem to be white no matter what colour dye is used in the original washing up liquid. File photograph: Getty Images

Shane, Pauric and Colm, sixth class pupils from St Manchan’s National School, Tubber, Moate in Westmeath, decided to learn why soap bubbles always seem to be white no matter what colour dye is used in the original washing up liquid. File photograph: Getty Images

 

A group of primary school students from Co Westmeath have discovered why soap suds are always white, while another group from Co Wexford have shown that exercise can improve your memory.

These are just two of the 180 research projects that will be on display during the annual RDS Primary Science Fair.

The hugely popular event runs parallel to the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition at the RDS, but increasing demand for places at the fair has encouraged the RDS to stage a second fair at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick on January 15th-16th.

The atmosphere in the RDS was electric as enthusiastic primary pupils explained their projects to anyone willing to listen.

Shane, Pauric and Colm, sixth class pupils from St Manchan’s National School, Tubber, Moate in Westmeath, decided to learn why soap bubbles always seem to be white no matter what colour dye is used in the original washing up liquid.

“We found all the dye drains away and only a few particles of dye are left so there is no colour in the bubbles,” Shane explained.

Exercising memory

Fifth class students Mia, Jennifer, Emma, Sarah, Briana and Ashley tackled the question of whether exercise improves memory.

The pupils from Bunscoil Loreto, Gorey, Co Wexford conducted tests on classmates but found they could not get consistent results. “It really depended on the person,” Mia said. Overall, they concluded exercise does help most people’s memory.

Their teacher Claire Thompson, who was participating in the fair for the first time, was “really impressed” with the event and the standard of projects. “I would definitely do it again,” she added.

Meanwhile, Colin, Ivan, Shane, Ivan, Sean, Abhainn and Ronan, a mix of fifth and sixth class pupils from Graiguenamanagh Boys’ National School, Co Kilkenny, had set out to build a motor similar to commercially produced equivalents.

Working prototype

“We made three types of motors,” said Abhainn. They learned about motor parts and how they worked, tried a number of designs and finally developed a working prototype only a few days before the fair, their teacher Jennifer Barron said.

She has brought students to the fair for the past five years and is always impressed by the pupils and their projects.

Interest in the fair has grown rapidly, RDS chief executive officer Michael Duffy said. The goal is to interest pupils in the sciences and maths and get them to stick with these subjects.

It was also about giving the teachers the “skills and confidence” to help pupils to take part in the event, he said.