Fire­balls and ex­plo­sions thrill


A tour­ing science show will bring big bangs, ex­plo­sions, fire­balls, and smoke rings to Palmer­ston North crowds.

Dr Michelle Dickinson, known as ‘Nanogirl’, is stop­ping by Palmer­ston North as part of her sci­en­tific tour around the coun­try.

Dickinson has a doc­tor­ate in ma­te­ri­als engi­neer­ing, spe­cial­is­ing in nanome­chan­i­cal fail­ure, the study how tiny things - 100,000x smaller than the width of a hu­man hair - break.

Lit­tle Bang, Big Bang will take place at the Re­gent on Broad­way on Thurs­day.

Dickinson said the show was about demon­strat­ing science and engi­neer­ing prin­ci­ples in a fun way to kids.

An ar­ray of ex­plo­sions and fire­balls will be on dis­play, as well as the com­bus­tion of dif­fer­ent gases.

‘‘One of the def­i­nite high­lights is when we cre­ate huge air vor­tices - ef­fec­tively gi­ant smoke rings - over the au­di­ences’ heads,’’ Dickinson said.

Dickinson is pro­pelled across the stage by a jet-pow­ered trol­ley, known as the Thrust Ma­chine, which is pow­ered by two fire ex­tin­guish­ers.

‘‘This is a re­ally hands-on show - the whole au­di­ence takes part in one ex­per­i­ment, and we have seven chil­dren from the au­di­ence up on stage dur­ing the show to help us with science ex­per­i­ments.’’

Dickinson said as a child, she was cu­ri­ous about the world around her and would take things apart to see how they worked. She knew engi­neer­ing and science would be a nat­u­ral fit for her.

She said she was pas­sion­ate about science and the tour was about en­sur­ing New Zealan­ders had ac­cess to science ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘One of my goals is to chal­lenge the stereo­types around engi­neer­ing and science. I re­ally be­lieve that science is ev­ery­where - and for ev­ery­one - and that’s what this project is all about. It’s also a huge amount of fun.’’

Nanogirl is tour­ing through­out the coun­try from Ro­torua to Christchurch be­tween De­cem­ber 2-17.


Michelle Dickinson, known as ‘Nanogirl’, is bring­ing her science, tech­nol­ogy and engi­neer­ing tour to Palmer­ston North.

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