Sharing an enthusiasm for science with the local community

The Holborn Community Association (HCA) is dedicated to creating a thriving and inclusive local community in Holborn through the creation of spaces and opportunities for individuals to build their skills, confidence, and overall well-being. 

Carpmaels has had a long association with Holborn and we have been a proud supporter of HCA for several years now, having initially worked with them to spring clean and re-decorate their old Bedford House building, followed by running a maths booster club for 10 and 11 year olds.  Each year Carpmaels is involved in the HCA Fun Palace, an annual event which sees local organisations running a range of activities designed to give people of all ages the chance to learn a new skill. We have also previously been involved in HCA’s Street Engineers programme, which involved hosting virtual creative engineering sessions for 7-11 year olds.

Most recently, Carpmaels volunteers have been getting involved in the HCA After School STEM and Arts Clubs.  The STEM club aims to help children apply their scientific understanding practically through STEM activities such as slime making, designing paper aeroplanes, and building models of our solar system. The Arts Club aims to encourage children to think creatively through various art projects such as creating ‘positivity posters’ for the local community and designing their own flags and emblems.

Associate Sarah Mitchell has been responsible for setting up and co-ordinating the Carpmaels volunteer group:

“I have worked closely with Shamoli, projects co-ordinator at HCA, to setup and coordinate the Carpmaels volunteer group, draft the volunteer rotas, communicate expectations, and gather feedback from both Shamoli and the Carpmaels volunteers so that we can keep improving how we work together. I created and planned a ‘Slime Time’ session providing materials and instructions for the children to make multiple pots of different coloured glittery slimes while also understanding the basics of polymerising. I’ve also helped with various other sessions, initially with a focus on virtual den building and more recently with a session on the colour spectrum and how different pigments interact.

“I absolutely love being involved in the STEM and ARTs clubs at HCA, the children are always so excited to be there and really engage with the activities, their enthusiasm is infectious. They are not intimidated by the volunteers at all which means I have had some incredibly entertaining conversations while they natter away to me about what’s happening at school/home/with their friends. Where else would I get the opportunity to discuss whether a unicorn with a rainbow tail is better than a unicorn with a glittery tail? Or help someone make the character ‘Venom’ out of pipe cleaners because there is ‘nothing else worth making’? It’s certainly a refreshing break from the day job and it really helps to ground me and remind me that there is so much going on outside of the boundary of my own little life bubble.”

Paralegal Maushami Kabra has been involved in the HCA Street Engineers initiative and After School STEM Club:

“I first got involved with the virtual Street Engineers programme earlier this year. The programme involved the children being set a brief to design a safe pedestrian footbridge, for example, in a busy urban area like Holborn and put their pencils to paper and think like an ‘engineer’ to design a practical structure. As an online volunteer, I found that once a round of ice-breaker games were done and everyone was warmed up (including us!) the children were soon excited to discuss their ideas.  Whether the children had practical or more creative abstract ideas, it was still impressive to see each child present their solutions to problems to volunteers like ourselves who they had not met before. 

“We were finally able to meet the children in-person at the After School STEM Club. We ran a session on making slime and explained what happens when contact lens solution is mixed with glue mixtures. In another session I took part in, the children got to make their own ‘whirlybirds’ and ‘ring wing gliders’ which provided endless fun as well as a practical demonstration of the different forces involved.  It was brilliant to see the children identify each of the forces, as well as come up with their own improvements to design their paper ‘aircrafts’ to fly faster or slower. That session ended with a paper plane flying competition!

“I am grateful that the Club is there as a space to connect and share our enthusiasm of science with children from the local community. I had a brilliant Chemistry teacher at school who taught the importance of STEM subjects in the wider world of work and industry, and I’m so pleased to be able to get involved and share my enthusiasm of science with future generations.”

Technical Assistant David Thompson recently got involved with the After School STEM Club:

“I decided to get involved with the Club because I wanted to take part in more volunteering work in my spare time. Growing up, I helped out at various youth groups in my local community. I somewhat naively assumed that there wouldn’t be similar volunteering opportunities in central London, so I was glad to sign up when I found out about the Club.

“During my first After School STEM Club, we explored capillary action by setting up a “rainbow caterpillar” and watching how water dyed with food colouring would travel from one glass to another by passing through a paper towel draped between the glasses. Another STEM activity I helped out with involved the ‘Bee Bot’ app, which was used to introduce the kids to coding and programming.

“Personally, I really enjoy spending time helping out at the Club. The kids love taking part in the activities and get along well with each other. Their energy is infectious and really puts you in a good mood after a day’s work. It’s also a great feeling to be able to volunteer time back to the local community.”


1st Dec 2021

Latest resources

Discover IP podcast: Resolving disputes

The Carpmaels & Ransford podcast…

Read more

Discover IP podcast: A life in IP

The Carpmaels & Ransford podcast…

Read more