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OU on the BBC: Rough Science 3: New Zealand - About the series

Updated Tuesday, 27th February 2007

Programme summaries from the second series of the BBC/OU's Rough Science

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Kathy Sykes and Mike Bullivant with the weighing balance Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

Programme 1 - Gold Rush
Five ingenious scientists start their epic journey on the other side of the world to hunt for gold. Kate Humble joins the team of modern day prospectors as they follow in the footsteps of the original gold pioneers on the rugged and unforgiving west coast of New Zealand's South Island.

To find gold they have to solve a series of seeming impossible challenges with only basic tools, simple materials and a few helpful household items like a bag of sugar and some old radios. The scientists’ brainpower, and muscle power, are tested to the limit as they battle with dense forest and fast flowing rivers in one of the wettest places on Earth, with over 5 metres of rain a year. The team's ultimate challenge is to make a souvenir from pure New Zealand gold.

Read Ellen McCallie's diary
Read Mike Leahy's diary
Read Kathy Sykes' diary
Read Jonathan Hare's diary
Read Mike Bullivant's diary

Programme 2 - Shakers
The scientists turned gold prospectors continue their epic search for gold in the wilds of New Zealand's South Island.

Presenter Kate Humble struggles with the team as they battle to extract enough gold to make a souvenir by the end of the series. To add to the half a gram they extracted in the first week, they adopt increasingly bizarre methods to get rich and solve science puzzles.

Read Ellen McCallie's diary 
Read Mike Leahy's diary
Read Kathy Sykes' diary

Read Jonathan Hare's diary
Read Mike Bullivant's diary

Programme 3 - Quakers
The scientists continue to look for gold in New Zealand, following in the footsteps of the original prospectors from 1860.

Ellen McCallie helps make a waterproof tent to keep Mike Bullivant and Mike Leahy dry on their overnight expedition in search of gold-bearing rock. And Kathy Sykes and Jonathan Hare make a seismograph using alarm clocks to measure earthquake activity in the area.

Read Ellen McCallie's diary
Read Mike Leahy's diary
Read Kathy Sykes' diary
Read Jonathan Hare's diary
Read Mike Bullivant's diary

Programme 4 - Ice
Presenter Kate Humble takes the Rough Scientists away from their epic quest for New Zealand gold this week, to set them one of the series’ toughest challenges yet. The team must measure the speed and melt of the Franz Josef Glacier, an awesome seven miles of ice.

In addition, the scientists have to keep themselves warm on the ice without lighting any fires, which involves building an ice lens, and generating chemical heat.

With just a basic toolkit and the island's natural resources at their disposal, the team must draw on their pooled ingenuity and scientific knowledge to complete the tasks.

Read Ellen McCallie's diary
Read Mike Leahy's diary
Read Kathy Sykes' diary
Read Jonathan Hare's diary
Read Mike Bullivant's diary

Programme 5 - Treasure Hunt
The Rough Scientists step up their search for gold. The deadline is looming for Kate Humble and the five 'Rough Scientists', who must find and extract enough gold to make a souvenir of their stay in New Zealand's south island. As the tension mounts, Kate Humble sets three tough challenges - to extract gold from rock and sand, to build an altimeter, and to use it to find buried gold from a treasure map.

Kathy heads to the beach in her hunt for gold and Mike Bullivant and Mike Leahy extract gold from rock. Jonathan and Ellen create a portable altimeter to take with them on their expedition to search for gold.

Read Ellen McCallie's diary
Read Mike Leahy's diary
Read Kathy Sykes' diary
Read Jonathan Hare's diary
Read Mike Bullivant's diary

Programme 6 - The Big Smelt
It's D-Day for the Rough Scientists who must build a furnace and bellows so they can try to smelt and form gold into souvenirs as a reminder of their six-week stay in New Zealand. To turn their powdered gold flakes into a solid nugget they have to reach a white-hot 1062ºC where gold will melt.

The team has to use science to re-discover the skills of the original prospectors who over a 150 years ago worked gold into beautiful objects on the rugged west coast of New Zealand. Will the scientists manage to make anything from the precious stash of gold that they've struggled for weeks to find? The team's scientific brains and brawn are pushed to the limit.

Read Ellen McCallie's diary
Read Mike Leahy's diary
Read Kathy Sykes' diary
Read Jonathan Hare's diary
Read Mike Bullivant's diary

Rough Science 3: New Zealand in more depth:

 

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