March 23, 2015, by Emma Thorne

10-year-old Italian PTOV fan meets her idols

Since launching their hit YouTube channel in 2008, the team behind the Periodic Table of Videos (PTOV) has become an internet sensation and developed a global following of millions.

And earlier today (Monday March 23) they were given the chance to bring chemistry to life for one of their youngest fans face-to-face, after she travelled from her home in Italy with her family to meet her idols.

Ten-year-old Sofia Pesaresi, who lives in Osimo near Ancona, was first introduced to the PTOV by dad Leonardo, a tech consultant and science buff, who enjoys watching online lectures by Walter Lewin at MIT and was searching for new chemistry-related content.

The first ever video she saw showed Nottingham chemistry students recreating the periodic table of elements with cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of Nottingham professor and PTOV star Sir Martyn Poliakoff. From that moment, she was hooked.

Leonardo said: “Sofia was impressed by how the students were so devoted to their teacher and she asked me to see another one and then another, like picking cherries — mercury, sodium, calcium, fluorine, magnesium and so on. She loves watching the experiments but she also likes the ‘human’ feel of the video, the laughs after an explosion and, of course, the calm lecturing of Sir Martyn.

“I sincerely hope the videos will inspire Sofia to study science when she is older and it is my secret desire that she could attend a good university like Nottingham in the future. Of course, it is too early to say but if parents are bows and children are arrows then videos like the Periodic Table of Videos are like a strong wind blowing in a good direction.”

Sofia added: “It will be a pleasure to see in reality the places and people I saw in the videos. I will bring home memories for my school friends and some photos too. My science teacher won’t believe me but she will surely believe the photos!”

Sofia’s devotion led to the decision by Leonardo and mum Nilva, a wildlife photographer, to incorporate a visit to Nottingham’s School of Chemistry into their family holiday to the UK, accompanied also by Sofia’s good friend Diletta.

Sir Martyn said: “I was delighted to meet Sofia and her friend Diletta. They were delighted to see the luminescence experiment that we set up for them. I was particularly touched by a tile which Sofia designed and specially made for me to celebrate Sodium, my favourite element.”

The family were also planning to visit the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, the Royal Observatory of Greenwich and the National Gallery in London during their short stay.

Posted in Science