Author Archives: Emily

elements-nutrition-logo I’ve been working on an exciting creative project with the Royal Society of Chemistry over the past few months, in partnership with a lovely team of developers at Texavi. I’m very happy to say that my concepts of a game around the topic of ‘health’ have been realised in the release of a new mobile and tablet application, Elements of Nutrition!

Do you know what type of food you need to eat to help you see in the dark or help your body build strong bones and teeth? Play Elements of Nutrition to find out! In this fun and educational game for ages 6-12 years, the aim is to collect as much healthy food as you can, whilst avoiding the unhealthy snacks.

Children playing the game at the Cambridge Science Festival
Children playing the game at the Cambridge Science Festival

Elements of Nutrition was a big hit at the Cambridge Science Festival this year; the app was available to play on iPad and was popular with a wide age range of children and their parents. With facts about vitamins and minerals at the start of each level, this simple app proved to be a valuable learning tool, as well as a fun game with a ‘juicy’ element of competition.

“This app could be used to help consolidate a student’s understanding of a healthy eating topic as it revises the different food groups with examples of foods which constitute a healthy diet. The app could be used at the start of a lesson to assess prior learning and again at the end to see if the student’s knowledge has improved. It can also, of course, be used at home or any time during a lesson that a teacher feels is appropriate.” - Susan Thompson, Regional Coordinator (East), Royal Society of Chemistry, Schools and Colleges Team.
"I think the app would be really good for students with English as an additional language; in the early stages of learning English it would allow them to engage in science lessons without really needing to speak or understand much English.” - Secondary school teacher, Cambridge Science Festival.

The app is deceivingly educational as as each level you learn about why it’s important to eat food containing lots of vitamins and minerals. You then catch these types of food in your shopping trolley. The game covers both vitamins (A, C, D) and minerals (calcium, potassium and iron).

The game is currently available to download for free for iPhone, iPod and iPad, and will be soon available on Android operating systems.

I hope you enjoy playing Elements of Nutrition as much as I’ve had making it with the Strategic Innovation Team and Texavi - please feel free to download, play, share and have some educational fun! Let me know if you can beat my top score of 1460!

1 Comment

I should probably be talking about the Higgs boson today, as most people with access to the internet will hopefully now recognise the evidential possibility of its existence according to preliminary data posted by Cern yesterday. That is, if they weren't distracted by the life-changing headlines about Justin Bieber throwing a tantrum. (I won't even honour that mention with a link).

Anyway, instead of thinking about the Higgs boson I've been directing my attention towards my dissertation. The loving memory of my dissertation that I handed in on May 1st this year has sprung back into my life, as I've been asked by my former supervisor to write an essay about my research, in the hope that some lovely people will give me an award for all of my hard work. In a way my dissertation was somewhat like the Higgs boson before today: hard to find (amongst the crates of degree related folders) and difficult to understand (I presented it to my Mother to read and she didn't even understand the title). Hopefully I can remedy the latter by explaining my project, for those of you who are interested - ie. my Mother, in this post.

That drip-drop process: normal-phase column chromatography purification of my 3rd compound.

I spent six months almost solidly in the lab, from October 2011 to March 2012, working on the "Synthesis of  Norlignan Derivatives". What I did during those six months was to spend every free minute of my time (when not in lectures or eating lunch) wearing my lab coat, working out quantities of chemicals to use, mixing chemicals, monitoring reactions, hoping the reactions worked, working out why they didn't work, extracting products, weighing yields, working out which liquid chemicals (solvent systems) I should put together to separate out and purify my products, purifying my products in a long drip-drop process (normal phase column chromatography), washing thousands of vials, working out the structure of the products I had made using fancy instruments (NMR, IR, GC-MS) and finally, writing my dissertation. (Phew - I hope you got all of that!)

I was trying to make a compound with something new stuck on the side of it, that may exhibit greater anti-inflammatory properties than the same compound without that new thing stuck on the side of it (see diagram below). I won't go into too much detail about the chemistry here, but I will say that it took 5 steps and some interesting reactions to get to the end product.

My beautiful compound, or at least, what I was trying to make: (E)-1-(4-carboxyphenyl),3,-(4-hydroxyphenyl)prop-2-en-1-one.

Unfortunately the final reaction failed and I got a slightly different product than I intended. However it could still show good anti-inflammatory properties and I got a chance to show off my theoretical knowledge by explaining why I think it happened. Explaining why things went wrong is possibly my second favourite thing about chemistry experiments, the first being working out the structures of compounds (which is easily fueled by my love of nuclear magnetic resonance).

So that's my final year project dissertation, hopefully explained simply enough that my Mother understands it, but with enough science in it that I can justify posting it here! If you're a science-type and want to know more about my project, I'm always very happy to discuss it in more detail, just get in touch. My project was definitely my favourite thing about final year and probably the best piece of academic writing I've produced so far. Now I just have to explain to my Mother what my placement project was all about...anyone for a slice of zeolite?

Today I stumbled across some fascinating geometric images by Tilman Zitzmann. #38 initially caught my eye because, rather humourously, it takes me back to my inorganic chemistry lectures where we spent most of our time trying to draw the perfect cube (I personally think I've managed to master it after four years!). I really enjoy the simplicity of juxtapositional shapes and the mix between Zitzmann's digital and analogue style makes this work a breath of geometric fresh air. As I would simply be replicating his portfolio if I posted all of the images I enjoy, below are a select few of my favourites:

#38 Phantom cubes
#38 Phantom cubes
#100 Wiping
#100 Wiping
#163 The journey of the moon
#163 The journey of the moon

Zitzmann's aim is to create one geometric image a day, taking inspiration from everything around him - including, as I like to see, a lot of science related concepts. However, a lot of these illustrations remind me of different scientific ideas to those Zitzmann intended, such as I can imagine the  lines in #100 to represent striated skeletal muscle tissue cells. For me, the six 'moons' in #163 illustrate the six outer electrons orbiting a nuclei, in a simplified Bohr's representation of an oxygen atom. The halves of the central circle represent both the neutrons and protons of the nuclei and as each electron can exist in either one of two quantum spin states, this time the halves of the 'moons' represent each state (spin up or spin down).

However you see it, I'm sure the images can be interpreted in several ways. I'd be interested to find out if anyone else shares a similar viewpoint to mine, or indeed a completely different one!

References and Connections

You can view the Daily Dot's interview with Zitzmann here, and follow Geometry Daily on Tumblr, Facebook, or Zitzmann on Twitter.