Perhaps the earliest festival of the year, the Imperial Festival 2018 took place over the weekend of the 28th April and unsurprising was located on the grounds of Imperial College London, offering a plethora of demos and exhibitions from the numerous research departments at and related to Imperial.
Through our founding member Josh, PPL PWR is connected to Imperial and to the Advance Characterisation of Materials through his PhD, offering us the perfect opportunity to showcase the hydrogen fuel cells cars, as well as the air pollution sensor, Paul’s brand new body-heat, thermo-electric LED rig and the solar thermal tea stand.
Two full, eight-hour days lay ahead of the PPL PWR team, bravely staffed by a number of the crew in shifts, alongside a team from the CDT in Advanced Characterisation of Materials.
An improvised rainbow road was built to race the fuel cells, the air particles sensor primed, and the stylish new housing for the thermo-electric sensors unveiled on the table – everything was going to plan.
Until we began to assemble the solar thermal tube rack on the concrete floor… No, the tubes didn’t smash, but, we couldn’t peg down the stand, risking the whole display falling over!
Too risky, and with the April sun being bested by the April clouds, the solar thermal array was packed down for another day.
Over the course of the few days, we met lecturers, researchers, alumni and even a few locals. But the best participants were obviously the kids, with dozens of bright, scientifically minded and literate kids, from 5+ asking amazing questions, quickly grasping the concepts and making up crazy ideas.
As expected, the transparent hydrogen fuel cells cars and their rainbow road garnered much attention, but the surprise stand out was the popularity of Paul’s thermoelectric generators, and the body-heat-inspired competition that having multiple rigs enabled between parents and kids, siblings and friends!
After 2 days of serious use, the demos were starting to show signs of some serious abuse, with a single fuel cell car remaining and the thermoelectric rigs needing some regluing! The pollution sensor, less handled, more shown, was surviving well and the solar thermal rack seemed plenty happy in its packing!
A few repairs required before our demo day at Institute of Imagination, but another fantastic weekend and, hopefully, one or two minds inspired by science!