How Vikings washed and soap made from conkers as pupils experiment 

Carrickmannon children take part in major science event

MAKING soap from conkers was part of a local school’s participation in a major science event last week.

Pupils at Carrickmannon Primary took part in the annual ESB Science Blast 2024 at the Waterfront Hall last week.

ESB Science Blast is an opportunity to encourage children’s natural curiosity, and a fun and interactive way to engage in STEM skills. 

P6 and 7 pupils had the opportunity to investigate the science behind a simple question.

School vice-principal, Rachel McCoy, said the event is one of the ‘highlights of our school calendar’.

“The children plan and carry out a scientific investigation, which they can then bring to the exhibition for judging,” she said.

“This year’s experiment was entitled ‘Are you Cleaner than a Viking?’ which was a great way to link our science investigation to our knowledge on the Vikings.

The children’s investigation came from their time at school learning about Viking times.

“The idea came to us as we learnt about the way of life in Viking times and how they made their own clothes and food using natural resources,” said Mrs McCoy.

“The children asked about Viking cleanliness and that is how our experiment was brought to fruition. The pupils researched how Vikings made soap for washing and our ‘conker soap’ was born.

“The making of the soap required the children to write and follow instructions using online videos which allowed for the infusion of ICT and Literacy skills.

“We then had to consider how we would fairly test a range of materials using both Viking detergent and modern detergent.

“Numeracy skills were applied as the pupils had to measure accurate strips of material and ensure the natural dirt stains used were all the exact same size.”

The pupils made predictions and gave supporting reasons and explanations before embarking on the experiment. 

Strict controls were in place with the only variable being the detergent used. The children recorded their results in a table and reflected on these.

“The pupils also made their own Viking soap using conkers, flax seed and lemon,” said Mrs McCoy.

“It was far superior when cleaning our hands,” explained Mrs McCoy. “The pupils explained this due to the exfoliating effect of the flax seed.

It was wonderful for the pupils to be able to showcase all of their hard work at the Science Blast and they even had the opportunity to be filmed for TV.

“The judges awarded our pupils 10/10 for their effort, teamwork and their scientific method! We are immensely proud of our children for their hard work.”

The Vice Principal said there are ‘fantastic’ TV shows which are inspiring workshops which elevate the importance of science and STEM.

|There were two fantastic shows for the children including one by ‘Mark, the Science Guy’ and one by ‘StrongWomen in Science’, she said.

“These were inspiring workshops which elevated the importance of Science and STEM learning and promoted the vast opportunities for employment in this area. 

“It is events like the Science Blast which encourage curiosity, creativity and an attitude of discovery.

“We hope lots of our children pursue their love of science in the future,” she added.