2009 Bragg medal and prize

Ms Becky Parker

Simon Langton Grammar School

For her work to energise generations of pupils to take up the study of physics; the commitment to raise substantial sums to provide major facilities in astronomy and other branches of physics in her region; and her positive influence on physics education nationally.

Becky Parker is a truly charismatic teacher with an overwhelming enthusiasm for physics. She has played a major role in many of the most prestigious committees and organisation for physics and science in the UK, as well as leading developments in the physics curriculum, including a 2-year stint as Head of Physics Education at the IOP. However, the apex of her achievements in physics education is her work as a teacher at the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys. She has single-mindedly pushed her vision for an Astronomy centre capable of enthusing pupils in the region, which has resulted in the foundation of the Langton Star Centre for which she is Director. This facility has not only met its original aims of bringing the excitement of astronomy to a whole range of pupils – the beauty and mystery of images to primary school pupils, the thrill of taking part in astronomical research on the Faulkes telescope to 6th formers – but has incubated several equally exciting new projects in other areas of physics.

She also founded the National Cosmic Ray Grid, in which more than thirty UK schools have now signed up to do experiments with the cosmic ray flux. Integral to this is the CERN@school project to develop simple and robust detectors suitable for school use, an example of which will fly on a satellite in 2011.

She has devised methods to us the CERN Medipix chip in the Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray intensity Detector (LUCID) and organised the presentation of these ideas at CERN. She is currently pioneering the use of the LHC Computing Grid to link participating schools in order to analyse their data.