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Public Engagement Grant Scheme funded projects 2006

Projects summaries from previous winning applications.

Ruth Wiltsher, Hartlepool College of Further Education

Physics in Town

A physics festival in Hartlepool Central Library during Family Learning Week, October 2006. Activities will include a portable Starlab planetarium, science story time, sessions led by a science children’s author, and a demonstration of physics experiments for a family audience by an experienced science lecturer. There will be a science quiz with answers to be found within the library and it is planned to have moon rocks and meteorites on loan from the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC). There will also be an associated lecture for secondary school pupils at Hartlepool College of Further Education in November.

Rosalind Mist

Surrey Guides go to Space

Guides in Surrey will be invited to a one-day Space Science event at the University of Surrey on 4 November 2006. At least 200 Guides and 20 leaders are expected to attend. The girls will take part in an energetic and diverse day, designed to meet the criteria for the Girlguiding UK Go For It! awards. The girls will explore the concepts and issues surrounding space science research undertaken by UK scientists. Potential activities include: build your own spectrometer, measure the changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, and observation of the Sun’s surface.

Emma Ghafur, Tiger Monkey

Take Flight! A Family Arts Day Exploring Science and Flying

Take Flight! is a workshop-day experience for families which will explore the science of flying and gravity via the arts and live experiments on 17 September 2006. Families will take part in four workshops in two hours with the aim of making science accessible and fun. Activities include: flight experiments with Dr Mark Caddy and Dr Krysia Sosin, making machines that defy gravity, an interactive history of flight and its pioneers, a gravity launch pad for younger children, and a mini science sculpture park.

Shaunagh Lavery, Heworth Grange Comprehensive School

The Physics Factor

Taking place at Heworth Grange Comprehensive School on a Saturday morning in July, The Physics Factor is a series of three hands-on workshops for 250 people. Activities will include: the wave machine, food physics and motion in the ocean.

Pamela Crowe, Unlimited Theatre

The Real World Application of Teleportation

A tour of 12 40-minute performance lectures to UK theatres explaining the real world application of teleportation made possible through the entanglement of particles at a quantum level. Besides the scientific content we will explore the social, political and philosophical implications for the arrival of this new technology. The lectures will support an associated show, Tangle, and will be written and delivered by Prof Vlatko Vedral and Jon Spooner.

Christopher Parkin, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford

Radio Marconi

A day of activities, talks and trails on 27 May 2006 to coincide with the special exhibition on Marconi. The day will celebrate the achievements of Guglielmo Marconi and make links with an exhibition of objects and memorabilia recently received by the museum. The aim of the day will be to promote enjoyment and understanding of the museum’s collection related to radio and telecommunications and to engage a younger audience with activities and ideas related to the physics involved in, and the social and historical background behind, being a successful scientist and pioneer.

Alom Shaha will be a multimedia report on the work of Dr Tara Shears, a particle physicist at the University of Liverpool who is about to start building a new detector for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Alom will visit the lab and film interviews with scientists, including Dr Shears, to get a first-hand report on progress as well as an explanation of the physics behind the work and its importance and relevance in general. Original text, video, photographs and graphics will all be used on the site to provide a detailed but accessible report on some of the most exciting physics research being done by UK scientists as well as showing the human face behind it. The site will also facilitate discussion between experts and the public via discussion boards and a live web chat with the scientists.

Samantha Smidt, The Open University

"Are we nearly there yet? Engaging with the physics of transport"

This portable workshop will enable children and their parents to engage with and investigate some of the fundamental physics behind everyday and familiar transport including cars, boats, parachutes and hot air balloons. A range of practical materials is provided which can be used to produce simple vehicles. Challenges and information about the underlying physical principles will be produced on sheets and handouts. A facilitator (a physicist) will be on hand, not only to help construct the vehicles, but also to discuss the science in context – by asking questions about the environment and safety, for example. The workshop is planned to take place at the Science Museum in London as well as venues in Swansea, Liverpool, Bolton and East London.

Bryan Lipscombe

How Solar Hot Water Systems Work

This project will create a portable interactive exhibit about how solar hot water systems work. It will complement an existing ‘how solar electricity works’ exhibit and will illustrate the different principles at work. The exhibit will comprise interactive panels to demonstrate the science alongside a working quarter size solar hot water panel.

Dr Ashley Green, The Open University

The Physics of ExoMars

This project involves the design and production of three pull-up display panels featuring the sensors and instruments currently being developed at the Open University, the University of Oxford and elsewhere for use on the ESA ExoMars lander and rover scheduled to land on Mars in 2013. The panels will be displayed alongside hands-on Mars Rover activities at the following events over this summer: Cheltenham Science Festival, Royal International Air Tattoo, Farnborough International Airshow, and Imagineering Fair.

James Hough, Institute of Gravitational Research, University of Glasgow

LISA - Giant in Space

LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) will be the largest man-made structure in the universe and this project will publicise the exciting new physics and technologies associated with it. 10,000 postcards will be produced with facts about LISA and gravitational wave astronomy. The postcards will also include a response element that allows people to get in contact with scientists for additional information or request public talks for specific venues.

Alexander St John Murphy, University of Edinburgh

Particle Physics in the Universe Today

2006 marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the neutrino. They now provide the best evidence for physics beyond the Standard Model and are proving to be an invaluable tool in astrophysics and cosmology. This project will deliver an afternoon of fun, exciting and thought-provoking physics-related activities followed by a public lecture showing particle physics in action. Held on 21 August 2006 at the University of St Andrews, the activities will take full advantage of the presence of many of the world’s leading researchers in particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology who will be attending Scottish Universities Summer School in Physics at St Andrews.

Barbara Tigar, SETPOINT Lancashire

Fabulous Physics Day

On 30 November 2006, 200 Key Stage 2 pupils will be introduced to the wonder and awe of physics through a series of practical and interactive workshops designed to illustrate contemporary physics. A key element of the project is the involvement of undergraduate and postgraduate SEAs from Lancaster University and members of the local branch of the Institute of Physics. They will act as young, enthusiastic role models and will work in small groups to develop their communication skills by designing and delivering the workshops. A prize will be awarded to the students with the best workshop on the basis of teacher and pupil evaluations.