It's no wonder that coding is more fashionable today than ever before. The ability to program is undoubtedly one of the most important skills for the current generation of children to have leading into their adult lives. In 2015, 7 million job openings required the ability to code in the US (Burning Glass) and it is known that the best way to learn is to start early. A coding camp is a great way to introduce the next generation to the most important skill of the future. While popular culture can often make coding seem a daunting and tricky skill, that is far from the truth. Programming is a skill which everyone can learn.
Jack and I went to the Science Museum tonight to run a workshop for their 'lates' programme. We've done quite a few workshops for their 'Science Night' programme (for kids), but working with adults opens up a few more possibilities! The theme of the night was 'alcohol', so we ran a version of our 'Chocolate and Orange' caviar using Cointreau.
It's a simple but fun demonstration using two food-grade chemicals that react together to form a skin around droplets of whatever flavoured-liquids you are using. The chocolate (and orange) mixtures contain sodium alginate (an algae derivative used commonly as a thickener in foods), and the water bath contains extra calcium ions. It is common to use calcium chloride, but we've ended up in most of these workshops using calcium lactate as it doesn't have a noticeable taste, so the caviar droplets don't need rinsing afterwards, making for a much quicker walk-up workshop.
It's always a popular experiment for people to do as you can eat the product of the reaction, and tonight was no exception. We think we had well in excess of 1000 people come through over the couple of hours we were there.
Many thanks to our Tech-Camp regular, Felix who stepped in for a little while at the start to help out when we were obviously in need of some help! (We didn't realise he was coming but he thought he would drop in with some friends from Imperial College next door, and fortunately he was even wearing the Tech Camp t-shirt!)