Past Events

Tuesday August 20th  2019

David Hall came and did some wonderful maths magic including Moebius strips, clever arrows (which way were they pointing), pyramid construction and a handy set square that fits in a pocket (hint it was a rope with knots).

Tuesday July 16th  2019

Dr Gavin Broad believes that we should all appreciate wasps more than perhaps we do.  He leads a team of curators at the Natural History Museum and is going to come and persuade us that wasps are really good guys.

Tuesday June 18th 2019

Calculators, pencils and paper as Michael Kent uses maths to produce magical results.  The magic squares you produced were splendid.

Tuesday May 21st 2019

Matt Tomkins came from Oxford to talk about illusions and how we can be fooled.  HIs current book is the ‘book of the exhibition’ for Smoke and Mirrors at the Wellcome Collection.

Tuesday April 16th 2019

Quiz Night for SAM with Louise in charge.  Well done to everyone who took part.

Tuesday March 19th 2019

You made volcanoes and smoke rings, did some secret writing and watched eggs getting into spaces that were much to small. Then she introduced a guest who created a fireball and wrote ’84’ with a burst of heat. A lively evening at No.84 and lots of things that you could try at home.  Thanks, Sasha and Michael.

Tuesday February 19th 2019

You made and used amazing table tennis ball launchers thanks to the guidance of engineer Philip Moffitt.  We’ll miss him when he moves to the north of the country.

Tuesday January 15th 2019

Paul Duncan McGarrity proved that being a nerd doesn’t stop you being very funny.  From the Normans having an early version of flat-pack for their castles to the dangers of fighting with swords even when wearing armour he made us all laugh.  Even superstitions got a mention.

Tuesday December 18th 2018

Wendy Wallis outlined how to get rubbish into the correct bins so that the best use can be made of the items we throw away. There were freebies at the end to remind us of the event.

Tuesday November 20th 2018 An amazing evening when actress Lauren Mills came and helped us all to have fun.  Building confidence and having a go came from trying to keep up with the game rules.

Tuesday October 16th 2018 Dr Joseph Fabian from the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College in London is investigating dragonfly flight.  He talked about his path into science, what it’s like working in science and then something of his current research into how dragonfly brains work to enable them to fly so well.  It turned out that he had few ambitions to be a scientist, indeed furniture maker or accountant figured in his plans growing up in Adelaide but now at the age of 26 he achieved a PhD a year ago!  He certainly made working in science seem a great career path.

Tuesday September 18th 2018 Danbee Kim has studied cuttlefish in great detail to compare brain function in a creature that is so different to us. We danced like a feeding cuttlefish, heard some songs and had the chance to listen to neurons in action as our muscles tense.

Tuesday August 21st 2018 Fun, Philosophy and … cake with Mr Bleakley.  Why did you choose the cake that you did?  When might lying be the correct thing to do?  Who did Socrates teach and how did he die?  Just some of the questions addressed in a session full of thinking and eating.

Tuesday July 17th 2018 We began learning Russian!  Impressive renditions of words and phrases in a language that was new to us all.  Some code-breaking and, to conclude, singing in Russian.  Take-away packs at the end of the evening included the alphabet, geography, quizzes and some recipes.

Tuesday June 19th 2018 Mrs Jo Randhawa showed us that knowing some simple mathematical tricks enables you to appear to be a mind reader and warned us that we can be fooled by looking at data on graphs if we don’t look carefully enough at the details.

Tuesday May 15th 2018 Philip Moffitt got us coding to help our understanding of the Internet of Things.  Next time Philip visits we’ll be finding out how BlueTooth technology works.

Tuesday April 17th 2018 Alison Bristo came and talked about her time as a volunteer at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Sabah, Borneo.  Extraordinary to find out how similar to us these primates are and to hear of the work being done to help them.

Tuesday March 20th 2018 ‘Visual and Creative Thinking’ with graphic designer Mark Whitehouse.  Managing to mix random nouns with coffee shop items opened up a whole new world of options for No.84 to supply!  Soup sandwiches, anyone?

Tuesday February 20th 2018 Phillip Moffitt got us started with the skills we need to understand the ‘internet of things’. Now I understand electrical circuits!

Tuesday 16th January 2018 Alice Sheppard shared her interests in things cosmological and shared some ideas of associated crafts.

Tuesday December 19th 2017 Dusty showed us some amazing photographs of storms but also reminded us that although we can travel to get amazing shots we can also find wonderful pictures right here at home.

Tuesday November 21st 2017 Using forensics to catch the villains who harm wildlife was Dr Brennan’s theme.

Tuesday October 17th 2017 With Phil Moffitt’s guidance we all managed to code traffic lights using BBC Microbits.

Tuesday September 19th 2017 Chris Pollard worked for a time at Whipsnade Zoo and became interested in conservation.  Evolution takes time but the habitat that animals live in can be destroyed remarkably quickly.  One of the ways we can help is to look for the FSC logo on anything made from wood – then for every tree used, two are planted.

Tuesday August 15th 2017 Richard Finnegan used his knowledge of astrophysics to show us how the things we think of as ‘facts’ can change as we get more evidence.  He also explained that having a scientific mindset can be useful in different walks of life, not just in science.  Finally we saw some lovely pictures that his brother had recently taken of insect life in Malaysia.

Tuesday July 18th 2017 Dr Allan Tucker took us from the earliest data collection to the latest.  Who knew that Florence Nightingale was the first to think of  visualising data with a pie chart?  Then there was John Snow saving people from cholera and Alan Turing laying down the groundwork for artificial intelligence.  Amazing folk.  Now it’s Google…

Tuesday June 20th 2017 Lesley Jones showed you how to create a patterned piece of felt..

Tuesday June 13th 2017 You had a chance to try preparing a body for mummification just as the ancient Egyptians did using Dr Griffin’s model mummy.  Well done for asking such interesting questions.

Tuesday May 16th 2017 Dr Fiona Gabbert shared some interesting facts about witness testimony and how she, and her colleagues, have helped the police to interview witnesses more effectively.  We were put to the test to identify the villain in the video.  How did you do?

Tuesday April 18th 2017 We were really lucky to meet Mike Breton who’s an engineer and worked on the Olympic stadium in Stratford.  If you want a job that’s different every day and needs you to make decisions and use your initiative then Mike’s work as an engineer certainly provides this.

Tuesday March 21st 2017 Dr Claire Benson is a fire and explosion scientist shared lots of really cool stories about the London Fire Brigade, explosives like nitroglycerine, coal mine fires and how the awesome Bunsen burner has increased our understanding of the Universe.

Tuesday February 21st 2017 Adam Hemsley not only studied at university but at the same time volunteered at zoos including London Zoo and Colchester Zoo.  With all the expertise and contacts he’s now started his own zoo locally.  Go and visit and see what he’s got.  Hemsley Conservation Centre.

Tuesday January 17th 2017 Fun with thermal imaging – and my forehead turned out to be the hotspot of all the items listed.  There are some pictures here on the thermal images page.

Tuesday December 20th 2016 George Brooker introduced Greek drama and the use of masks.  Lots of glitter glue and some creative scenarios.

Tuesday November 15th 2016 Dr Erica McAlister who works behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum came and talked about flies.  It just goes to show how much there is around us if only we look carefully enough.

Tuesday October 18th 2016 What fantastic rhino heads and cars you all made when Steve had explained the principles of 3D printing.

Tuesday September 20th 2016 Liam Shaw studies bacteria and came to talk about them and the antibiotics we use if they are harming us.  In particular he mentioned the problems that arise if we use antibiotics inappropriately.

Tuesday August 16th 2016 Thanks to Dr Lennox we now know that curves and triangles make for stable structures and bridges can be made from Jelly Babies and spaghetti.

Tuesday July 19th 2016 This evening’s session was a reminder that many things we use and take for granted were at some point invented.  We also learnt that inventions can be made using materials that are found in the home and that all it takes is for someone to wonder ‘What if…?’  Perseverance helps too.  At a practical level it’s important to be able to communicate the idea behind your invention and ensure that other people don’t use it without repaying you for your effort.

Tuesday June 21st 2016 Aisling and James came and talked about studying medicine.  On the practical side everyone had the opportunity to use a stethoscope, test reflexes and get a blood pressure reading.  They also described how they are taught to question patients to try and find out what’s wrong with them.

Tuesday June 14th 2016 SAM Extra: This extra event was about ancient Egypt and Kenneth Griffith showed us the stages in preparing a body for the mummification process.  Well done to those of you who extracted brains with a hook and removed other internal organs.

Tuesday May 17th 2016 Dr John Gogarty explained that whilst what we are basically is genetically determined we are also influenced by our environment.  He also talked about the difficulties of finding out how much of what we are is determined by nature v nurture and the issues of the quality of data from studies of twins.

Tuesday April 19th 2016 A murder mystery this month with four suspects.  With Sasha Singh’s guidance and using tools developed by chemists you worked out who the murderer was.  Well done.

Tuesday March 15th 2016 The artist Fitzy came and showed how apparently random scribbling can turn into something recognisable.  Some amazing pieces of instant art were generated during the evening and then everyone got a ‘Fitzy’ original to take away.  Thanks, Fitzy.

Tuesday February 16th 2016 Catie Williams is working for her PhD studying primate digestive tracts.  She showed us some different primates and gave us a diagram to follow to work out which primate we’re most like.  There was lots of information about bacteria and we not only carry lots of it around with us but we couldn’t live without it.  Finally a reminder that it’s always worth working at different subjects because you never know when you might want to make a change.

Tuesday January 19th 2016 Jess Wade told us about her life working for her PhD, outlining why she loves her work so much.  The opportunities she talked about were so exciting.  Then to round it all off she showed us how to make solar energy from raspberries.  The sun has so much energy, we just need to harness it.

Tuesday December 15th 2015 No invited speaker this month but lots of odds and ends to give you ideas of things to do: Quirkology, Hexaflexagons and the Game of Life all came into the equation.  There are links on the Web Links page to all of these.

Tuesday November 17th 2015 Professor Joe Cain from UCL came and showed us how scientists begin to work out answers from the available data.  It turned out that you were all pretty good at this too.  The message was: Test a hypothesis, look for evidence and be prepared to change your mind.  Think scientifically, and not just about science.

Tuesday October 20th 2015 Remi Gau told us something about how the brain tries to make sense of the world and sometimes gets it wrong! He has also travelled to many different countries whilst studying so if you enjoy science and travel it’s possible to combine the two.

Tuesday September 15th 2015 Marino, who worked for the ESA, gave us a guided tour, by video, around a space station.  Being weightless seemed fun.

Tuesday August 18th 2015 Fraser came to show us how he works making film trailers.  So many things to think about: Music, speech, captions, images… and being careful not to spoil the ending before you see the whole film.

Tuesday August 11th 2015 An extra SAM event when Jake McGowan-Lowe came and talked about collecting and studying bones.  He also revealed a new use for a slow cooker.  Very pleased that Paolo Viscardi was able to come too.

Tuesday July 21st 2015 This evening found mathematics everywhere.  Whether you are a sausage manufacturer or part of a Formula One Racing Team mathematics will help you make decisions that bring success.  Lots of problem solving starting with the problem that Gauss solved so quickly that his lazy mathematics teacher didn’t get a break.  Thanks to Jo for giving our brains some exercise.

Tuesday June 16th 2015 Lots of energy created at this event as you tried cycling to generate power.  It makes us realise how lucky we are to have energy at the flick of a switch and also of the importance of thinking of the future of energy supplies.

Tuesday May 19th 2015 Nancy Goodman studied chemistry and then went on to use her skills working with chocolate at Thornton’s.  We saw chocolates being made and found out that chocolate has to be checked carefully for consistent quality.  There was also a chance to try and tell the difference between different chocolate bars.  And finally there were samples for everyone.

Tuesday April 21st 2015 Peter Bleakley took us from cave paintings to post-impressionists. We were shown how colours combine, how we see colours and which colours work well together.  Finally we looked at some mathematics with mentions of a Fibonacci sequence, the golden ratio and finally creating pictures using the repetition of the original shape.

Tuesday March 17th 2015 Dr Lennox showed us how to write secret messages either using a liquid other than ink or by writing messages in code.

Tuesday February 17th 2015 Philip Moffitt talked about engineering as a career.  He pointed out that engineering is used in many areas of life so learning the skills you need to become an engineer opens many doors.  He also showed us how to make a simple torch. Philip is a Chartered Engineer and an ambassador for STEMNET.

Tuesday January 20th 2015 Finding out that random gene mutations can be beneficial, neutral or harmful using Rock Pocket Mice and marshmallow monsters as illustrations .

Tuesday December 16th 2014 Sasha used balloons and science to solve Santa’s transport issues using static electricity, baking powder and vinegar and rocket propulsion. Everyone won at least one race.

Tuesday November 18th 2014 Dr Lennox came and talked about sound and the making of music using simple items found around the house.

Tuesday October 21st 2014 Adam Holloway has had many interesting experiences in his life and last October he came and talked at No.84 about his work as an investigative journalist reporting for ITN.  He was such an interesting speaker that we’ve asked him to come back and share some of his stories with SAM.

Tuesday September 16 2014 This event will be magic.  Why?  Because we have magician Robert Teszka coming.  Is there a connection between science and magic? This is your chance to find out.

August 19th 2014 Natural selection results in some living organisms being successful and reproducing whilst others die out and so, over time, organisms adapt as their circumstances change.  Alice Porter’s talk and activities will explain what is currently known about how this process works.

July 15th 2014 ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know’. Sword fights, frog torture and buckets and buckets of wee.  Unlikely as it may seem each of these has led a scientist to a remarkable discovery.  Dr Kathryn Harkup ( came to tell us how.

June 17th 2014 In June Tim Rylands ( and Sarah Neild travelled from Bristol to show us how to use free tools available on the internet to be creative.  With 30 years of classroom experience in the UK and beyond, including 4 years in West Africa, Tim had plenty of ideas to share.  He believes that ICT is about communication more than technology … and that it should be FUN!  By the end of the session we all agreed that a great deal of fun had been had with more to come exploring the different websites at home.

May 20th 2014 Alan Peck, a science teacher, demonstrated some interesting chemical reactions.  Some of these were definitely not to be tried at home.

April 15th 2014 Dr Paolo Viscardi (, a curator at the Horniman Museum in south London, described his working life as a curator.  In addition he brought with him a collection of animal skulls and gave the audience a chance to try to match each skull with the picture of an animal.