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Schools - Daresbury Laboratory

One of 4 UK STFC sites, the Laboratory is part of Sci-Tech Daresbury, one of two national science and innovation campuses, which supports scientists, researchers and industry by providing a collaborative and innovative environment to perform cutting-edge research. Daresbury Laboratory is renowned for its world leading scientific research in fields such as accelerator science, bio-medicine, physics, chemistry, materials, engineering and computational science.

Daresbury Laboratory has an active outreach programme which informs people of all ages about how science impacts their everyday lives and inspires the next generation of researchers.

A key part of STFC’s mission is to share our exciting work with schools and the public, and we are dedicated to encouraging young people to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. All events run by the Daresbury Public Engagement team are free of charge but must be booked and confirmed in advance.

For information on anything regarding our work with schools, please email the team below.

Phill Day Public Engagement Manager
Wendy Cotterill Senior Public Engagement Officer
Gemma Reed Public Engagement Officer

You can contact the team here


The STFC Big Data Hunt Challenge Target Age KS2
The main curriculum links of this exercise are relevant to ages 8 to 11.  The basic exercise fits the attainment targets for younger pupils, but the extensions are more suited to older pupils. 

Activities included :

  • Data bucket challenge
  • Square Kilometre Array or Ghia (astronomy) themed Bee-bot workshop
  • Computational Chemistry workshop using soap, oil and water

Key messages:

  • Computer programs (algorithms) are sets of instructions
  • Computer programs need to be clear and specific
  • Computer programs should be as simple as possible to avoid errors

Curriculum links:

  • Understand what algorithms are, how they are implemented as programs on digital devices, and that programs execute by following a sequence of instructions
  • Write and test simple programs
  • Use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs
  • Design and write programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts
  • Use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs; work with variables and various forms of input and output; generate appropriate inputs and predicted outputs to test programs
  • Use logical reasoning to explain how a simple algorithm works and to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs

Big Telescopes and Exoplanets: Target Age KS2 to KS4
The exoplanets exercise can be differentiated for use with both younger and elder pupils, teaching both graph and analysis skills alongside inspiring science content. 


  • Planetarium
  • Infra-red camera activity
  • Meteorites
  • Exoplanet workshop

Key messages:

  • Inspiring Space science and Big Telescopes from the very large to the very small scale
  • Valuing space science and technology for its economic, social and cultural contribution of to society
  • That Space and Big Telescope activities can be cross curricular

Curriculum Links:

  • Patterns in tables and graphs can be used to identify anomalous data that require further consideration.
  • Conclusions must be limited by, and not go beyond, the data available
  • We are still finding out about things and developing our scientific knowledge.
  • There are some questions that we cannot answer, maybe because we do not have enough repeatable, reproducible and valid evidence

Arduino Workshop : Target age KS2 to KS4
An Arduino is a programmable circuit board. Users can write code on their computer in a language similar to Scratch and upload it to the Arduino for their projects.
After an introduction to Arduinos and programming, your students will work in pairs or groups to build and code a light sensor. There is no prior preparation required from the teachers for this workshop, as the Daresbury PE Team will look after everything on the day.

Curriculum links:

  • taking measurements, using a range of scientific equipment, with increasing accuracy and precision, taking repeat readings when appropriate
  • design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts
  • use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs; work with variables and various forms of input and output
  • use logical reasoning to explain how some simple algorithms work and to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs

Mobile planetarium : Target age KS2 upwards

Children can voyage around the Solar System and learn about the other planets, or view the night sky and see the many different constellations

Fantastic Plastics Lecture : Target age KS4

A 1-hour demonstration lecture for GCSE covering polymers - and enterprise - from Professor Averil MacDonald.

Possibly the most successful GCSE lecture in the UK is coming again to Daresbury Laboratory on Thursday 14th November 2019 at 1.30 pm.

What's the link between disposable nappies and flat screen TVs, between hair gel and saving the environment? This lecture looks at the often surprising things that Plastics can do and questions whether plastics are as bad as they are painted in the media. And how can you use all this to make a Million?

The lecture is designed to match the Science National Curriculum at Key Stage 4 and bring in elements of Enterprise. The show lasts 1 hour and includes loads of interesting demonstrations. It is FREE courtesy of Manchester Polymer Group, a local society of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and The Worshipful Company of Horners  in conjunction with All About STEM

Professor Averil Macdonald is internationally acknowledged for innovative science communication and was awarded an OBE in the 2015 Birthday Honours in recognition of her work supporting women in science and engaging the public with science. For this talk the audience to date already exceeds 110,000.

  • WHEN: 1.30pm Thursday 14th November 2019
  • WHERE: Merrison Lecture Theatre, Daresbury laboratory, Keckwick Lane, Daresbury, Warrington WA4 4AD
  • WHO: Year 10/11 students, you can include students from KS3 if you believe that they will benefit from the lecture.

Please contact the team with any questions regarding the above workshops and talks.

Particle and Accelerator Physics Masterclass

Located in Cheshire on the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus, STFC Daresbury Laboratory is a world-renowned centre of excellence specialising in particle accelerator technology.  The laboratory is part of many international collaborations which include close links with CERN, and works to exploit and push the cutting edge of particle accelerator technology.  This technology underpins research in particle physics, and enables the construction of accelerator-based light sources which are the research tool for many other scientific fields such as condensed matter and semiconductor physics, chemistry and catalysis, materials science, protein crystallography and drug development.

The Cockcroft Institute at Daresbury Laboratory is an international centre for accelerator R&D, and it will host the Laboratory’s next annual Particle Physics Masterclass between March 3rd and March 5th, 2020. It is a fabulous opportunity for A-Level and GCSE students with an interest in physics to get a real insight into the technologies which underpin 21st century particle accelerators, and to see how these machines are used to push the boundaries of scientific technique and knowledge.  Staff from the Institute will lead this masterclass which combines lectures, demonstrations and hands-on practical sessions. The aim is to give an overview of basic accelerator technology and how this has been used to deliver recent projects such as ALICE accelerator (Accelerators and Lasers in Combined Experiments) and the currently under construction CLARA, a state-of-the-art tuneable laser light known as a free-electron laser (FEL). 

This years’ programme will include:

  • A history of the Daresbury Laboratory, the Cockcroft Institute and the accelerator facilities it has hosted, including a guided tour of a particle accelerator.
  • A ‘Particle physics and the LHC’ lecture delivered by the University of Manchester.
  • An exercise in identifying particle beam collision results from the LHC.
  • A lecture on magnetic fields and the purpose and design of accelerator magnets.
  • Demonstrations of vacuum, electrostatic acceleration and superconductivity – all critical enabling technologies in modern accelerators.
  • Opportunities to discuss careers in science and engineering with our current staff, students and apprentices.
  • A quiz (with prizes) on the material covered during the class.

The class runs from 09:30 until 16:00, with a lunch break (see notes below) where Cockcroft Institute staff will be present – this is a great opportunity for students to talk to real physicists and engineers about what they do.  Prior to the class, we will send participating schools a classroom preparatory exercise supported by a PowerPoint presentation in which students can estimate the electron beam energy in the CLARA accelerator using a few simple measurements.

For further information or booking, please email Wendy Cotterill or call on 01925 603408.

Note to teachers:

  • The masterclass is aimed primarily at sixth form students and high-achieving year 11 students.
  • Attendance is limited to a maximum of 80 students per day.  These students are split into 4 groups for practical reasons, with a maximum of 20 students in each group.
  • Lunch will not be provided. Facilities to purchase lunch on site are limited and will be busy with staff so we politely request that all students bring packed lunches.

Please note the programme is subject to change.


Nuclear Physics Masterclass

Located in Cheshire on the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus, the STFC Daresbury Laboratory is a world-renowned centre of research excellence and the home to the Nuclear Physics Group. The major role of the Nuclear Physics Group is to support and contribute to the UK's Nuclear Physics research programme supported by the STFC

The broad aim of Nuclear Physics research is to study the properties and structure of nuclei, and the mechanisms involved in their creation. This poses questions about the limits of nuclear stability, the fundamental physical processes which governed the formation of light nuclei in the first moments after the Big Bang, and the subsequent synthesis of heavier nuclei within stars.

Nuclear Physics research provides technologies which are transferable to wider applications, benefiting society in a range of areas including medicine, power production and security. Research in this field comprises the design and research and development of detector systems, experimental work which is carried out at specific overseas facilities, data analysis, and a complementary theoretical programme.

The Nuclear Physics masterclass programme will include:

  • An introduction to Daresbury Laboratory by Professor John Simpson (Head of Nuclear Physics at Daresbury Laboratory).
  • Gamma-rays: Imaging the invisible - the latest research being carried out by the University of Liverpool to revolutionise gamma-ray imaging - Dr Laura Harkness Brennan (University of Liverpool).
  • Binding Blocks - a nuclear physics outreach project covering Nuclear fusion, Nuclear fission, Nuclear astrophysics, Nuclear physics in medicine and Exotic nuclei, pupils help build an eight metre long 3D nuclear chart of all isotopes made completely out of lego™ (York University).
  • Gamma-ray detection – pupils will be identifying the spectra from several “unknown” source of gamma radiation (Liverpool University).
  • Simulation of radiation detection activity - pupils will simulate realistic radioactive source and record the energy deposited in a NaI scintillator and Germanium detector (Daresbury Laboratory).
  • The Nuclear energy industry – “The facts behind the fuss” - An engaging lecture by Dr John Roberts (Manchester University)
  • The Nuclear Physics Quiz

The day starts at 09:30 and runs until 15:45 – this is a great opportunity for students to talk to real physicists about what they do.

For proposed dates and further information or booking, please email Gemma Reed or call on 01925 603 828.

 Note to teachers:

  • The masterclass is aimed primarily at sixth form students, though high-achieving year 11 students may also benefit

Please note the programme is subject to change.

Other ways to interact with Daresbury

As well as the workshops and masterclasses listed above, schools can also interact with Daresbury Laboratory by attending one of our school access days, where students can listen to a lecture from one of our scientists and try lots of hands on experiments which demonstrate fundamental scientific principles.

We also work with industry partners by hosting events such as Epic Steps, the IET Faraday Challenge Day, First Lego League, and EDT Go4SET to name but a few.

For further information on upcoming events or opportunities please contact our Public Engagement Team.

Work experience placements at Daresbury Laboratory

Daresbury Laboratory is able to offer work experience placements in a number of different areas of discipline including design, engineering and technology. Due to the popularity of placements and the available resources of the scientists, students can now only be taken during the months April-August.

More information regarding the scheme and the application process is available here.

Daresbury Laboratory 360 tour

Please note, if the 360 tour fails to load then please refresh the web page by pressing F5.

Follow Daresbury Laboratory on social media

Last updated: 03 March 2021


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