Undercover Chemistry


Project aims:

To pilot an activity that highlights science underpinning everyday life

That lots of people could take part in

That had a low barrier to entry for all involved


8-12 shops to take part

200 people to take part

10% of people to complete the trail

Summary of activity:

To develop a trail of 8-12 shops, each with a Molymod molecule “hidden” inside it. Each molecule was tailor made for the shop, and had an A4 info sheet alongside it which said what the molecule was and why it is important.
See below for more details.

At the launch event, people are given a treasure hunt sheet with the names of the shops taking part.
If they complete the trail, they get a free ticket to Science Oxford Live.

Took part:
M&S Food Hall: Alcohol
Modern Art Oxford: Bronze
Beaverbrooks (Jewellery): Diamond
British Heart Foundation: Aspirin
Eyesite (Optician): DEGBAC (Synthetic glass)
Apricot (Clothes): PET (used in nylon)
Art Café: Caffeine
Mayther (Stationer): Cellulose
Costa Coffee: Theobromine (Chocolate)
BHS café: Glucose

Refused: New Look; Oasis.

Evaluation approach:

Number of shops taking part

Number of shops who refuse

Number of people who take a sheet

Number of people who complete the trail

Occasional walk round of participating shops

What went well:

1. It was easy to get 10 shops on board: only 2 shops refused to take part

2. People were keen to take part

3. More people than we expected completed the trail

What was learned:

1. You need to talk to shops around 6 weeks in advance: more than that is too soon, later than that and they get flustered.

2. We could have printed more than 200 forms, and we should expect more than 10% completion rate. This means we may have to reassess the prizes.

3. 10 shops may be too many: 8 could be a better number.

Top tips and advice for others

1. Do it! It's easy and worthwhile

2. Giving them a tailor made molecule makes the shops feel important.

3. Keep the distances very short and keep the number of shops as low as you can without making it feel like too easy a challenge.

About this project


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Project type:

Started (approximately):

Jan 13

Ended: (approximately)

9 Mar 13

Tags for this project:

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