Finishing touches

In order to keep the audience from running away during Act I, our Conversations on Victorian Chemistry performance promises cupcakes. And why not. It is National Chemistry Week after all, and we are having the performance on Mole Day, it makes sense to have a Periodic Table of Cupcakes.

Somewhat historical periodic table of cupcakes place mat.

I made a place mat for the cupcakes. The elements are depicted by an image which represents when the element was discovered (before Mendeleev, during the period covered in our play, or after the death of Marie Curie). The images will be covered by the cupcake, so feasters won’t know which time period their element comes from until they take it. Also, since we have six volunteer bakers, they won’t know which flavor their cupcake is. Therein lies the excitement of discovering their element/cupcake.

The costumes fit

We had our first (and last) dress rehearsal for the play lecture in costume. I think everyone knows their lines (because we are reading from our scripts lab notebooks). The visuals look good, the lighting is fine, the sight lines are … so-so. Everyone on the team is excited to share their geeky excitement for the Periodic Table on Mole Day, when we present “Conversations on Victorian Chemistry.”

Clockwise from bottom left: Marie Curie, Suzanne Morgan, Dmitri Mendeleev, and Sara Morgan

All abuzz about the Periodic Table

Tomorrow we do our first (and final) dress rehearsal for the play (uhh lecture with costumes) “Conversations on Victorian Chemistry”, which will be held Wednesday at the Morgan-Manning House (in Brockport, for the 2-3 out of state visitors to my website). In addition to the performance, we are showcasing some chemistry demonstrations. Piezoelectricity played a significant role in Marie Curie’s discovery of radioactivity and we have made some piezoelectric crystals out of cream of tartar. After following the suggestions in this Collin’s Lab video, I just went into our stockroom and found some potassium sodium tartrate (aka Rochelle’s salt) to recrystallize.

Left-hand side are some Rochelle salt crystals. Right hand side is the voltage generated by tapping the hard-to-see crystal in my 3D printed vise.

(and if you are wondering what the connection is with the title, the thing that makes your smartphone vibrate is probably one of these.)

Props for Conversations…

My upcoming play “Conversations on Victorian Chemistry” features a couple of the instruments that were used to discover elements and their properties. One of those instruments is the spectroscope. Imagine how excited I was to see a papercraft DIY spectrometer in the most recent issue of Make Magazine!

After the play, we’ll be showcasing a few DIY science projects. Audience members will be able to take home the instructions and try out their hand as citizen scientists! Can’t wait? Then head over to PublicLab and check out the project. (And if you’re that interested, you should probably subscribe to Make magazine.)

Gearing up for Conversations…

One of my goals for celebrating the 150th anniversary of the periodic table was to put on a play. Yeah, ambitious. I’m now calling it a lecture in costume to keep from stressing out too much. In any case, I am 12 days away from the premier of Conversations on Victorian Chemistry. More to come.

The Victorian era was rich with chemical discoveries, not least of which was the development of the iconic periodic table. In this program, we will hear from Dimitri Mendeleev, the chemist recognized as the father of periodic law, and Marie Curie, who discovered two new elements and devoted her life to the study of radioactivity, a concept wholeheartedly rejected by Mendeleev. Conversations on Victorian Chemistry is presented in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the periodic table.  In addition to chemistry-themed refreshments, we will showcase some 21st-century activities that demonstrate the tools used by these Victorian scientists.