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Redcoats and Aliens: Adventures in Physics at Butlins

The Institute of Physics has teamed up with Butlins, the famous family holiday company, to create a unique physics-based adventure for kids. Children use their mobile phones to help a stranded alien get home and make their own exciting journeys of scientific discovery.

Throughout the summer holidays, children visiting Butlins with their families can take part in an interactive quest to help Echo, an alien from the planet Fizzix, find the scattered parts of his damaged spaceship – called powerpads. They explore the Resort and hunt for clues to questions which they answer via text message. For example:

“Do you know why children go so fast down the waterslide? The water is moving over the smooth slide, which means there is very little of the force that normally slows you down. That force is called friction.

I have lost the friction powerpad for my spacepod. You can pick up my friction powerpad by answering this question. Rub your hands together very fast. How do they feel?”

Kids can also text their ideas for a new type of powerpad to Echo – encouraging them to think how physics can be applied in other situations: an anti-gravity powerpad could help you fly, for example.

Every child will also be given an accompanying comic book posing questions and explaining key ideas such as centripetal force and friction, which shows how physics is all around us every day. The half hour long adventure game will be free for phone users with ‘bundled’ free texts but will total no more than £1, even on the most expensive tariff.

At the end of the game, kids are encouraged to visit to get a special certificate (from the President of Fizzix) and to see if their new powerpad suggestion has been posted on Echo’s webpage. They can also download a copy of the game and find out more about physics through a host of other online activities.

This initiative is a first for a scientific society. Elizabeth Jeavans, outreach officer for the Institute of Physics explains; “What better way to get your first introduction to concepts such as velocity, friction and aerodynamics than by using go-karts, bungee trampolines and a water slide? I know plenty of scientists who’d fancy having a go at this!”

Susie Hartley | alfa
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