Family Fun Day: all about elements

Arrive any time between 11.00am and 4.00pm, Saturday 1 June

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Credit: Tim Mitchell
  • Enjoying gettings hands-on with science!

    Credit: Harry Harper
  • Blowing things up in the name of science!

    Credit: Paul Wilkinson
  • Type

    Family Fun Day
  • Audience

    Ages 7+


Standard £16

Concessions £10

Ri and RSC Members/Patrons £7

Ri Young Members FREE!

Event description

Get hands-on with science at this season’s Family Fun Day! In partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the periodic table, so expect a fun interactive day all about the elements!

Family Fun Day activities are suitable for 7–12-year olds though older and younger siblings also very welcome. All under 18-year olds must be accompanied by an adult. Ri Young Members enjoy Family Fun Days for free, but don't forget to book tickets before taking part on the day. 

All activities and talks run throughout the day, so you do not need to arrive at 11.00am. There is sometimes a queue when we first open, so you might find it easier to arrive a little later, and you will still have time to see all the talks and try out all the activities.


Dan Plane -  A Periodic Puzzle: Finding the Pieces
11.20am, 1.15pm, 3.15pm; 30mins
When Dmitri Mendeleev first created his periodic table he had to leave gaps for undiscovered elements. Dan has a periodic table, and like Mendeleev’s, it’s got some gaps. Dan’s got the missing pieces of the puzzle, and with your help, he’ll be testing them to try and figure out what elements belong where on the table, along the way he’ll tell some of the stories behind the elements and the people behind them. In this interactive show, the audience will help test properties such as melting point, reactivity, and just maybe, flammability!

Sarah Haigh -  Carbon: the greatest element in the world?
12.15pm and 2.15pm; 30mins
Carbon is an amazing element, from dazzling diamonds to the graphite in your pencil, but what is it that makes it so special? Join Sarah Haigh to explore this amazing element, which is not only one of the most abundant on earth, but also makes up almost 20% of your body. As a pure substance, diamond shows amazing variety ranging from super hard diamond, to the two-dimensional ‘wonder material’ graphene. Combined with other elements like oxygen and hydrogen, carbon produces thousands of other amazing compounds including almost all plastics and rubbers. Sarah will take us on a whistle stop tour of everything that makes Carbon such a useful element. You’ll never look at a pencil in the same way again!



Activities at this season's Family Fun Day are all exploring the wonderul world of the period table, in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Watch crystals be made of bismuth metal in front of your eyes, explore the weird world of magnetism and Lenz's Law, burn pure hydrogen in the palm of your hand, hunt for the odd elements in the human body and even find some rogue radioactivity hiding in normal everyday items. This is just a taste of what is on offer; there will be a building full of hands-on science for you to explore on the day. 

With the Royal Society of Chemistry, explore a variety of activities and games celebrating 150 years of the periodic table and the wider applications in chemistry. Do you know which elements are essential in your diet? Find out which chemistry careers match your skill set, and contribute to a giant arts and crafts periodic table.

As well as activities from the Ri and the Royal Society of Chemistry, we are happy to welcome along The Royal Veterinary College, Chelsea Physic Garden, The Geological Society, and UCL Department of Cognitive Neuroscience.

We can't think of a better way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the periodic table!


Sarah Haigh is Professor of Materials Characterisation at the University of Manchester. She currently juggles (in no particular order) the UK’s largest electron microscopy centre, a research team of 13 students, teaching crystallography, advanced atom bothering and raising a small baby. 

Dan Plane is a Science in Schools presenter for the Royal Institution and has worked in education for nearly 20 years. He's been a science communicator for the last eight years and his interest in all areas of science is ever growing. Dan is all about getting everyone, kids and adults alike, to explore the past, present, and future of science, and is especially proud to be a part of the rich history of science communication here at the Ri.


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email:

Carers can receive a free ticket to an event by emailing

Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop. 

Become a member

Benefit from free and better than half-price tickets, special offers and access to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES ticket ballot.

Join todayGo

Upcoming Events

View all events