Doctor Hal and Sideshow Dave rocked last year’s Abu Dhabi Science Festival, and they’re back with bigger and more ambitious plans: they’re going to use chemiluminescence to light up du Forum by mixing the contents of two test tubes.
With the help of Sideshow Dave (Dave Campbell), his co-presenter and technician, Dr Hal will also be using carbon dioxide to cause a fire, burning white phosphorous in liquid oxygen and making a soda bottle explode.
“Dave and I will be singing songs – he’ll sing while breathing in helium for his voice to go high and I will breathe in sulphur hexafluoride to make my voice go low.”
Half of this year’s show is completely new. “We have lots of fantastic new experiments lined up and those that aren’t new, we are looking at them in new ways,” Dr Hal says. “It’s all dangerous. But in 18 years I have only had one experiment go wrong, but I took care of it so nobody was hurt.”
Chemistry is for everyone
When he’s not touring the world with his science antics, professor Hal Sosabowski teaches Public Understanding of Science at the University of Brighton. His aim is to put the fun back into chemistry. He explains: “Part of our show is having the witty underscore, so everyone is entertained and will remember it because they were laughing. The age limit is 6 to 80. Little youngsters see coloured fire and hear bangs and as the audience goes through the age stages, they learn more and more.”
Dr Hal first got the idea for doing scientific shows about 20 years ago, when he was a young lecturer at the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa, teaching disadvantaged students about chemistry.
“I started using spectacular demonstrations and it worked – it taught them more than I could teach them myself and they really enjoyed it,” he says. “So, I started doing it as a show, first in South Africa, then I moved to the UK and did it there. Now I am paid to do what I love all over the world – I can’t believe how lucky I am.”
Coming up Trumps
Dr Hal has also designed Trumps notes to make learning science fun. The topics include recycling, chemistry, biology and physics. “The first one was Dr Hal’s Chemistry Trumps – I loved doing all the research for them.
“I love making education fun – I don’t mean that in the normal way. Sometimes things that we learn at school are dull and there isn’t much that can be done about it. I remember doing second-order differential equations and finding them hard and uninspiring – but most things can be livened up if we know how.”
• Dr Hal – Reloaded is at du Forum on November 16 at 7.30, and November 17 and 18 at 7.15pm. For more information, visit www.abudhabisciencefestival.ae. Dr Hal’s Trumps cards can be purchased at www.drhal.co.uk
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