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2016B Successful Projects

STFC Public Engagement Small Awards

Professor Chris Allton
Swansea University

‘Oriel Science’

1st February 2017 to 31st January 2018

Professor Chris Allton

(Credit: Swansea University)

This project comprises a pop-up exhibition with the theme of “Image” which will be opening to the public on the weekend of 17-18 September 2017 at Swansea University. Oriel Science is an exhibition and outreach space designed to showcase the University’s STEM research. In addition to the gallery, Oriel Science provides workshops to schools relating to each exhibition. Their science mission is to inspire the public about the wonders of science through exhibitions on various themes inspiring visitors to explore how science and technology affect their daily lives.

Dr Anna-Maria Arnoldina van Veggel
University of Glasgow

‘The dawn of gravitational wave astronomy’

2nd February to 1st October 2017

Gravitational waves

(Credit: NASA/C.Henze)

This project is for a Gravitational Wave stand at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition, Glasgow Science Festival and other Scottish science festivals allowing the general public, including those that live in remote locations, to meet scientists that are involved in the recent discoveries surrounding gravitational waves. The team will demonstrate the key technologies involved in current state-of-the-art gravitational wave detectors and visitors will be able to participate in a number of different interactive exhibits which will allow them to learn about general relativity, interferometers, black holes and other topics in this field.

Dr. Heather Campbell
University of Surrey

‘Astronomy and Cosmology Content Development for Mobile Planetarium’

1st January 2017 to 31st December 2018

Dr Heather Campbell

(Credit: The Ogden Trust)

Heather and her team will develop content for their mobile planetarium which is based on the research undertaken at the University of Surrey. This will then be incorporated into planetarium shows by anyone in the community who wishes to use the resources. The team will focus on mobile planetaria as this will reach harder-to-reach audiences and under-represented groups. Some of the key research topics that will be incorporated include black holes, dark matter and the evolution of galaxies.

Mr. Kieran Cox
Fusion Arts

‘Drawing Invisible Particles - an investigation into cosmic rays’

10th April 2017 to 9th December 2017

Mr. Kieran Cox

(Credit: Tom Cox)

This project aims to engage the general public in the understanding of particle physics using visual arts and sculpture created by artist Tom Cox. The artwork comprises cloud chambers made from everyday materials within a large black tent. Participants will learn about the physics behind these cloud chambers, muons and cosmic rays. This project links together science with art and creates a unique experience for visitors to help them understand an area of science which they may not otherwise learn about.

Dr. David Cunnah

‘Science Storytelling’

1st March 2017 to 31st August 2017

Dr. David Cunnah

(Credit: Cardiff University)

This project is run by the Institute of Physics and will comprise a pilot series of Science Storytelling events in Wales. Stories will be delivered by scientists and storytellers and will be aimed at a non-expert audience. Wales has a long heritage of storytelling and this is very popular at Welsh festivals with which it has a strong cultural and historical connection. A number of scientists will talk about their lives and research through which Cunnah and his team would like to build a cultural association between rural locations in Wales and scientific research through the art of storytelling.

Professor Gerry Doyle
Armagh Observatory

‘Engaging Primary & Secondary School Children in Science via Public Engagement Fellows and the Armagh Observatory & Planetarium’

1st March 2017 to 28th February 2018

Professor Gerry Doyle

(Credit: Armagh Observatory)

This project builds on work undertaken by the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP) staff. The AOP contributes to developing STEM education initiatives that target students at all levels including those in underrepresented communities in order to meet the growing demand for science education. The project will involve two of STFC’s Public Engagement Fellows who will gave a series of talks to children and young adults ranging in age from 6 to 18 and assist AOP’s Education Officers to continues with these activities after the project duration ends. Two of STFC’s key astronomy research areas will be covered namely solar physics and gravitational wave astronomy.

Dr Sarah Fox
British Science Association

‘‘British Science Association AS/A-level Science Journalism competition 2017’’

8th January 2017 to 7th May 2017

Dr Sarah Fox

(Credit: Dr Sarah Fox, LinkedIn)

Sarah and her team are running a journalism competition for school children. The project will comprise a mock ‘press conference’ in which academic researchers from a range of backgrounds will give short presentations on an exciting aspect of their research. Students will have one month to write a lay-science article covering the work of one of the researchers. This project is an innovative way to engage students from a range of backgrounds in cutting edge research following on from the success of the pilot project.

Dr Dirk Froebrich
University of Kent

‘School Physicists Astronomical Research at Kent (SPARK)’

6th February 2017 to 5th February 2019

Beacon Observatory

(Credit: University of Kent)

The Beacon Observatory opened in 2015 and has supported the University of Kent’s undergraduate teaching programmes in astrophysics along with other scientific research projects. The observatory is primarily used for research in star formation and planetary science.

The team plan to involve the public in this research by offering time for schools to use the observatory. Potential projects will be developed for teachers to use in the classroom in line with the current curriculum. The project aims to help teachers and students understand the processes involved in observational astronomy and will provide access to equipment that might not otherwise be accessible.

Professor Monica Grady
Open University

‘Meteorite or Meteor-wrong?’

1st February 2017 to 31st January 2018

Professor Monica Grady

(Credit: St Peter’s School)

This project focuses on meteorite hunting and gives student a taste of what can be learned from meteorites and how they can be recognised. This is done through an online virtual reality field trip in which the student will follow an online experiment to a hot desert environment. The project gives students the chance to learn about how analysing rocks from space can help us understand the Earth along with teaching them key skills such as effective team work and communication. This engaging project will be aimed at school children between the years of 5 and 11.

Dr Tom Kirkham
STFC - Laboratories

‘Solving Problems With Machines’

1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018

Dr Tom Kirkham

(Credit: STFC)

This project aims to create teaching materials covering the Key Stage 2 Computing curriculum using a lab-working method in order to take a more practical approach to computing. Recent events have marked the anniversaries of Ada Lovelace and the ATLAS computer at STFC. The vast number of new teaching and educational resources created as a result of these events will provide the foundations upon which Tom and his team will build teaching materials to demonstrate the relationship between key STFC science and innovation in computing.

Dr Karen Masters
University of Portsmouth

‘Stargazing at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’

31st January 2017 to 30th January 2018

Dr Karen Masters

(Credit: University of Portsmouth)

This project is for an annual Stargazing event at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard which has been running each year since 2013. At the annual event the general public are invited on board the HMS Warrior and to other locations in the dockyard for astronomy activities including stargazing, talking to experts and lectures regarding astrophysics, cosmology and stargazing. The project aims to attract both those with an interest in astronomy and also those beyond this such as those who are interested in the local and naval history.

Dr Alessandro Pastore
University of York

‘Virtual Binding Blocks: from plastic to digital bricks’

1st February 2017 to 31st January 2019

Dr Alessandro Pastore

(Credit: University of York)

The Virtual Binding Blocks (VBB) project aims to create interactive material for school children and teachers to address the principles of nuclear physics and how the fundamental properties of matter lead to the development of applications. The project consists of building a 3D version of the nuclear chart using Lego bricks. This newly funded project is an expansion on this whereby the team would like to replace the plastic bricks with digital Lego bricks allowing the material to be available anywhere in the country. This will be at no cost to teachers and will better engage A-level students with nuclear physics through educational videos, a digital nuclear 3D chart and a Minecraft 3D chart.

Mrs Hollie Smith-Charles
Cheltenham Festivals

‘AstroMakers: Exploring astronomy through making’

6th February 2017 to 5th November 2017

Cheltenham Science Festival

(Credit: Cheltenham Festivals)

MakeSpace is Cheltenham Science Festival’s first interactive zone dedicated to the material world and engaging the public with the wonders of ‘making’. The project aims to enhance the range and impact of free activities within MakeSpace along with expanding another programme called “Around Town” which provides free making activities around the streets in Cheltenham. Hollie and her team aim to target a broad audience from young people to adults but they are particularly keen to target children ages 5-16 through their schools and family programme.

As part of MakeSpace, the team would like to include a series of AstroMaker stations which will engage the public in the making involved in astronomy, astrophysics and related fields through hands-on activities.

Dr Mark Telling
University of Middlesex

‘SMASHfestUK 2017: SuperVolcanoes - a free festival of science, engineering, technology, music, comedy, and arts, with something for all ages’

12th December 2016 to 11th March 2017


(Credit: SMASHfestUK)

SMASHfestUK is an innovative science festival that uses culture and entertainment to provide STEM engagement for young people in London. The 2017 theme is ‘Supervolcanoes’ and will comprise an exhibition programme aimed at 11-18 year olds. The exhibition aims to combine science with art through interactive activities, experiments, games, theatrical performances, comedy shows and storytelling.

The team plan to build an erupting cryovolcano in which the general public can take part and learn about the science involved. In addition, their Young Science Explainers Programme aims to bring young people to the festival who might not normally want to go. The project will target school children who will form a large team of young science explainers who will form a key part of the festival exhibitors and participants and will help in explaining the science and technology throughout the events.

Mr. Gregory Watson
Children's Radio UK Ltd

‘Deep Space High: Intergalactic Weather Watch’

6th February 2017 to 5th July 2017

Fun Kids

(Credit: Fun Kids)

This project is to design an audio series comprising 10 programmes for broadcast on Fun Kids. This is the UK’s only radio station designed specifically for children and families which provides supplementary digital materials and online resources. The project will focus on topics such as space weather, planets in our Solar System and extra-Solar planets. Gregory and his team aim to inspire the next generation of scientists through this innovative project along with providing early career scientists the opportunity of taking part in the delivery of this.

Prof. Carsten Welsch
University of Liverpool

‘Photons in the Classroom - Astronomy Workshops’

1st January 2017 to 31st December 2018

Prof. Carsten Welsch

(Credit: University of Liverpool)

Carsten and his team aim to engage 11-14 year old school children to undertake double/triple science at GCSE level in order to progress to science subjects at A-level and possibly a career in physics. The project aims to deliver presentations to excite them about physics and astronomy along with providing them with career options and guidance. The team will deliver workshops from Spring to Autumn 2017 and develop educational resources which will be made available online.

Last updated: 10 March 2017


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