Schools - Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

The STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), near Didcot in Oxfordshire, is home to many of the UK’s most advanced research facilities and supports work in a range of areas including space science and astronomy, particle physics, nanotechnology and developing new materials.

RAL employs nearly 1,200 people and every year around 10,000 scientists and engineers use the Laboratory's facilities to advance their research.

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 RAL 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.

Thank You
STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Public Engagement Team
Sophy Palmer, Lauren Mowberry, Vicky Stowell, Jo Lewis and Rebecca Matthews

Please note registration of interest opens the term before an event. This is due to many events being oversubscribed. Once the registration of interest closes, places are then allocated at random.

Dates for the Diary

Work Experience September 2019 Applications for our work experience programme will open at the start of September, and be open until the end of December. Work experience, or work shadowing, at the laboratory is a fantastic opportunity for students to find out what life is like as a scientist, engineer or computer scientist. All students wishing to visit the lab on work experience or work shadowing in the 2019-20 academic year must have applied by 31 December 2019. More information about work experience can be found on our website - the application form will be linked from here in September.
Particle Physics Masterclass February/March 2020
Date TBC
KS5 students
The National Particle Physics Masterclass is a popular series of one day events for sixth form students and their teachers, run by particle physics researchers at various institutes all over the country, and have proved stimulating and informative for thousands of students and hundreds of schools. These classes provide excellent support for the material on Particle Physics which is in many 16+ curricula. The Masterclasses at RAL provide the chance to hear talks by leading Particle Physicists from RAL and CERN, tour one of our accelerators and use data from the Large Hadron Collider to find a Higgs Boson. Programmes, photos and some lectures from previous years can be found on the RAL Masterclass website.

To register your interest in the Particle Physics Masterclass, please visit Eventbrite. Registration of interest closes on 7 November 2019, and places will be allocated and confirmed on 9 November 2019.
Apollo @50 Monday 15 July - Saturday 20 July 2019 We will be running celebration days for Key Stage 2,3 and 5, to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landings in 1969. They will be a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of this amazing event - pupils will take part in a carousel of hands-on activities and get the chance to hold bits of the moon brought back by the Apollo Astronauts. The day will finish with a space show.

This July is the 50th anniversary of the 1969 moon landing. To celebrate we are hosting a week of events centred around this momentous and historic day. Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first two people on the moon. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo lunar module on July 20th 1969. Three men were sent into space, leaving Michael Collins to pilot the spacecraft and orbit the moon. Neil Armstrong made history when he was the first person to step foot on the moon, shortly followed by Buzz Aldrin. Their mission was to bring lunar material back to Planet Earth, where it could be studied and tested by scientists back here on the ground. Apollo 11 was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in America on July the 16th 1969 as part of NASA's Apollo programme. The nation was hooked on the thought of sending man to space and the possibility of a successful mission. Due to the mission’s huge following and popularity, it was decided that the mission would be broadcast live on TV. Neil Armstrong described the mission as "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Registration of interest has closed. To be added to our waiting list, please send us an email.
Engineering Your Future Thursday 4 July 2019 Engineering Your Future is a careers event to help students find out more about different careers available to them if they choose to progress with work or study in the field of engineering. It is co-hosted by Diamond Light Source, Oxfordshire’s very own synchrotron, and there will be an exclusive tour of Diamond during the day for all students and teachers. We are delighted to have scientists and engineers from our external partners at this event, who will be running a series of interactive workshops. There will also be an opportunity to speak to people from other organizations that support maths, science and engineering over a lunch time networking fair. Lunch is provided.

Please note registration for this event has closed. To be added to our waiting list, please send us an email.
Exploring Engineering Tuesday 14 May 2019 In celebration of the Year of Engineering, the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is hosting "Exploring Engineering", an event aimed at Key Stage 3 students in Year 8 or 9. The students will have the opportunity to visit the ISIS experimental hall and will learn about the incredible engineering that goes on at the facility through talks, demonstrations and a series of hands-on activities and workshops. It is rare that Key Stage 3 students can enter the experimental hall, so do make the most of this opportunity!

Schools can bring a maximum of 12 students, and lunch will be provided for all participants.

Please note registration for this event has closed. To be added to our waiting list, please send us an email.
MRC Festival Friday 21 June 2019 We will be celebrating the MRC Festival of Medical Research Open Day on site at the Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) on Friday 21 June 2019. This event, for Key Stage 3 students in Years 8 and 9, will run from 10:00 – 13:00.

The RCaH is a fascinating science facility for scientists who work on the Harwell Campus, near Didcot in Oxfordshire. It provides a unique environment for researchers in the life and physical sciences, enabling them to work at the interface between traditional science disciplines and use the major facilities on the Harwell Campus such as ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and Diamond Light Source.

The MRC Festival of Medical Research Open Day at the RCaH will give you an opportunity to participate in a variety of different activities. As a working lab, these may change, but will include several of the following:
 
  • Growing crystals: See how we study proteins by trying your hand at crystallizing a protein
  • All about ice-cream!: Handle 3D prints of ice-cream magnified a hundred times and see what makes it taste so good, then test some of our liquid nitrogen ice-cream for yourself
  • Tour of the ISIS Neutron and Muon Facility - it's unusual that we can arrange tours of this particle accelerator for KS3 students, so do make the most of this opportunity
  • Laser science: Visit our lasers to find out how we use them to understand the world around us
  • DNA extraction: Learn how to extract DNA from strawberries in this hands-on activity
  • 4D science: Run your own synchrotron-style experiment with an interactive display of X-ray tomography
Please note registration for this event has closed. To be added to our waiting list, please send us an email.
 

Work Experience

We run a large work experience programme at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory each year, taking (on average) around 100 students. For anyone wishing to apply, applications open at the beginning of September and close at the end of December each year. Applications are open to students in years 10, 11, 12 and 13 for placements in April through to August.

Due to the high volume of applications received, late applications will not be considered.

For more information and a link to the application form, please visit our work experience page.

 

 

Talking Science

Hosted at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, our programme of public lectures include a fascinating range of talks on a variety of different topics.

These are a great opportunity to inspire your students so we do hope that you’ll bring them along to one of our many talks. They are held on a Friday at lunchtime and again in the evening. The events are free to attend, but booking is essential.

To see our current list of talks, please visit our Talking Science webpage where you can download a copy of our brochure.

To book a Talking Science lecture, please visit Eventbrite.

 

 

Girls in Technology – Science in Your Future

The UK is on target to reach one million women working in STEM by 2020, based on the 2018 Workforce Statistics.

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) are at the forefront of efforts to increase girls’ participation in STEM. Our Science in Your Future careers day, hosted by Diamond Light Source and STFC, is just one of the many events organised to support this.

Science in Your Future gives 100 female GCSE students the opportunity to learn about the different careers available should they choose to progress with study or work in the field of science, technology, engineering and math.

The event took place during the same week as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which is a celebration of all of the inspirational women in science. The day started with a fantastic talk, by Dr Ceri Brenner, one of our laser physicists.

We were delighted to have scientists and engineers from our external partners running a series of interactive workshops at this event. The students were given the opportunity to network with other organisations that support math, science, computing and engineering.

All attendees were treated to an exclusive tour of Diamond Light Source and to engaging workshops led by ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

C is committed to fostering greater diversity within science. We recognise that equality is about more than simply complying with the law and is about creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive community. Diversity allows us to be more creative, more productive, and more innovative, but we know it does not come easily. Gender is just one part of achieving diversity. Here we focus on the role of women in STEM.

 

 

Chemistry at Work

Dates TBC: Autumn 2019

The ISIS Neutron and Muon Source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory host an annual Chemistry at Work event in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry aimed at GCSE students. The students have the opportunity to visit the ISIS experimental hall and learn about the incredible chemistry undertaken at the facility through talks, demonstrations and a series of hands-on activities. The day finishes with an exciting chemistry show. Schools can bring a maximum of 12 students, and priority is given to local schools and students who have not already visited the facility. Lunch is included.

 

 

Teacher Training (CPD) Workshops

We run a host of free workshops for teachers throughout the year on a variety of different topics. In the past we have run them on the themes of:

  • Inside the atom
  • Computing for primary schools
  • Big telescopes
  • Dark sky discovery (primary)
  • Big data and computing
  • Neutrons and biology
  • Nuclear physics

To be put on our teacher mailing list to hear about any upcoming training opportunities, please email us your details.

 

 

School Science Prize

Dates: TBC

For the School Science Prize we ask Year 9 students to write a 500 word essay entitled “Why I love science”. All participating students receive a certificate, and the final 15 students are invited to RAL for an evening celebration in December. The 15 finalists are invited to have a tour before the celebration event – and gave a two minute presentation on why they love science. Entries open in September and close in November.

For more information, visit our School Science Prize webpage.

 

 

Education Access Days

Dates TBC: Autumn 2019

Visits to STFC facilities are a fabulous opportunity to see a working laboratory that is used by teams from around the world, and to meet with the scientists and engineers who work here. Days include tours, talks and hands-on workshops that are tailored to the appropriate age group and curriculum and are a great way to inspire students with the excitement of cutting-edge research and its impact on our everyday life.

"I enjoyed the tour because it put the theory from classes into practice. We have studied ISIS quite extensively, so it was good to see it for real."
A-level student
Wycombe High School

These days are run throughout the academic year for Key Stages 2, 3 and 5.

To be put on our schools mailing list to hear about any upcoming events, please email us your details (stating whether you want to go on the primary or secondary mailing list).

 

 

Particle Physics Masterclass

Dates TBC: Feb/March 2019

The National Particle Physics Masterclass is a popular series of one day events for sixth form students and their teachers, run by particle physics researchers at various institutes all over the country. Since the inception of the programme in 1997, they have proved to be stimulating and informative for thousands of students and hundreds of schools. These classes provide excellent support for the material on Particle Physics which is in many 16+ curricula.

The National Particle Physics Masterclass is a popular series of one day events for sixth form students and their teachers, run by particle physics researchers at various institutes all over the country. Since the inception of the programme in 1997, they have proved to be stimulating and informative for thousands of students and hundreds of schools. These classes provide excellent support for the material on Particle Physics which is in many 16+ curricula.

The Masterclasses at RAL provide the chance to hear talks by leading Particle Physicists from RAL and CERN, tour one of our accelerators and carry out a computer simulation activity with staff from RAL’s prestigious Particle Physics Department. Programmes, photos and lectures from previous years can be found on the RAL Masterclass website.

As these days are very popular, the masterclass is repeated four times in one week each year.

 

 

Young Scientist of the Year Awards

To nominate a student and find out more information, please visit the Science Oxford webpage.

We are delighted to support the Young Scientist of the Year Awards which are run by Science Oxford. Oxfordshire’s secondary schools are invited to nominate their best Year 13 students in Physics, Biology and Chemistry to be recognised for their achievements in the past year. The awards ceremony is held each year at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History in October.

 

 

Ada Lovelace Challenge Day

8 October 2019

Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. To celebrate, RAL hosts a computing challenge day for teams of four students from Year 8 or 9. The day is designed to introduce students to the excitement of computing. As well as an exciting challenge, the students are given a tour of our Scientific Computing facility.

To be put on our schools mailing list to hear about any upcoming events, please email us your details.

 

 

Faraday Challenge Day at RAL

Dates: TBC

Engineering is an essential part of all of the research we do at RAL and to help showcase this we are pleased to take part in the IET’s national programme of Faraday Challenge Days. Teams of Year 8 students are given an engineering challenge and one day to solve it. For more information please see our Faraday Challenge webpage.

 

 

Engineering Your Future

4 July 2019

Engineering Your Future is a careers event to help key stage 5 students find out more about different careers available to them if they choose to progress with work or study in the field of engineering. It is co-hosted by Diamond Light Source, Oxfordshire’s very own synchrotron, and includes an exclusive tour of Diamond during the day for all students and teachers.

We are delighted to have scientists and engineers from our external partners at these events, who run a series of interactive workshops. There is also the opportunity to speak to people from other organizations that support maths, science, computing and engineering over a lunch time networking fair. Lunch is provided.

To be put on our schools mailing list to hear about any upcoming events, please email us your details.

Registration of interest has closed. To be added to our waiting list, please send us an email.

Last updated: 16 April 2019

UKRI

Science and Technology Facilities Council
Switchboard: +44 (0)1793 442000