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Public Engagement Grant Scheme funded projects 2007

Projects summaries from previous winning applications

Anna Lacey, Naked Scientists

Kitchen Science

The Naked Scientists will produce a suite of 20 interactive experiments which listeners to the weekly radio show and podcast can try at home during the broadcast. The experiments will make use of simple household ingredients and apparatus to convey physics concepts in a fun and interesting way. One experiment will be inserted into the programme each week and listeners will be challenged to be the first through on the telephone with the correct observation or explanation. 

Eilish McLoughlin, Dublin City University

Busking Physics

Busking is an established activity on Grafton Street, the main pedestrian shopping street in Dublin. On Saturday 12 May 2007 between 11am and 3pm, a team of 20 physicists will set up a busking pitch full of suitable demonstrations for showing physics to the passing public. Puzzles and demos will be given out to audience members to take home to share with their friends and families.

Eric Wooding, University of the Third Age (U3A)

Particles and the Universe

At 2pm on 27 February 2007 Prof Peter Kalmus will present a lecture, Particles and the Universe, at Bedales School in Petersfield. The lecture will explore how large accelerator experiments recreate the conditions of the early universe. The lecture is open to members of U3A, the general public and students from local schools.

John Davey, Cambridge University

CHaOS Summer Science Roadshow 2007

Cambridge Hands-On Science (CHaOS) has an annual tour of hands-on experiments which visits schools, festivals and other public venues. Appearances at public venues are free and open to the general public on a drop-in basis. The 2007 tour will take place during July with venues to be confirmed. For further information visit the CHaOS Science website

Jacinta Browne, Dublin Institute of Technology

Physics Makes You Better!

The Medical Ultrasound Group will develop a portable medical physics laboratory together with a series of activities designed to allow students to undertake medical physics experiments. The portable lab will include hands-on medical imaging (ultrasound and x-rays simulated by light), and physiological measurement experiments. The portable lab and workshop will be presented at selected schools in Dublin and available to the public at the School of Physics in the Dublin Institute of Technology during Science Week in November 2007.

Jim Al-Khalili, University of Surrey


Flatlanders is an innovative science, art and faith project that looks at the mutual search for the nature of our existence. A two-screen video art installation, Flatlanders will show the fleeting image of an artist’s impression of a Higgs boson combined with images that challenge time and space as we know it. The installation will take place during October 2007 at St Mary the Virgin Church, Oxford and will be accompanied by a debate.

Chris Bowdery, Institute of Physics Lancashire and Cumbria Branch

Galactic Gig

Galactic Gig is a 35-minute drama written and performed by members of the Lancashire and Cumbria branch. A visiting extraterrestrial being arrives on Earth knowing nothing about sound and music as his planet has no atmosphere. He meets two students, one studying physics and doing a project on the planets and the other doing music. Using the alien’s spaceship, they all go on a tour of the solar system to learn about the planets and music. The show is followed by the opportunity for the audience to explore some hands-on experiments. Galactic Gig will be presented to at least four primary schools in Lancashire during 2007.

Steve Harris, Science Shops Wales

Wind Energy – Explore, Create and Understand

During National Science and Engineering Week 2007 (9-18 March 2007), Science Shops Wales will run three workshops looking at the issues surrounding wind energy for communities in south-east Wales at the Glamorgan Gates Centre in Merthyr Tydfil. The workshops aim to provide factual knowledge of wind energy with an introduction to its history and current status as a renewable energy resource, whilst demonstrating the science behind wind capture and electricity production.

Shaunagh Lavery, Heworth Grange Comprehensive School, Gateshead

Astronomy for Scouts

Heworth Grange’s physics department will support local Scouts working towards their astronomy badges with three workshops. Scout group leaders will be given a resource pack filled with activities, games and presentations for extension work and for use with other Scouts in the future. Each of the workshops will be aimed at a different age group within the scouting movement:
Beaver Scouts (6-8) – Stars and how we see them
Cub Scouts (8-10) – The solar system
Scouts (11-14) – The night sky.

Caroline Molyneux, Balshaws High School, Lancashire

Science Blows Your Mind

On 22 January 2007, 300 pupils from the Leyland and Bolton areas will attend the New Year Lectures Up North, or NYLUN at Bolton Arena. The day’s event is dedicated to improving attainment and achievement by raising aspirations. Some of the best scientists and engineers in the country will be speaking and interacting with the students during interactive lectures and workshops.

Amy Parkinson, Science City York

The Big Bungee Experiment

York College and Science City York will conduct a full scale version of the popular ‘bungee jumper’ experiment conducted on many school physics courses. A commercial bungee jumping firm will be booked for two days to enable students, families and members of the public to demonstrate Hooke’s Law and investigate the accuracy of modelling processes. The project will take place during September 2007 whilst the BA Festival of Science is in York.

Peter Ford, University of Bath

Promoting Physics within Cornwall and the Scilly Isles

Cornwall and the Scilly Isles are among the most disadvantaged areas with the EU and recognised as an ‘Objective 1’ area. Promoting Physics within Cornwall and the Scilly Isles aims to enable two experienced physicists (Dr Peter Ford and Dr Vincent Smith) with an excellent track record in communicating the subject to visit as many venues as possible in these areas. They will give their acclaimed joint ‘Einstein Lecture’ alongside their liquid nitrogen demonstrations and other talks as appropriate for each audience and venue. The tour will take place during the second quarter of 2007.

Dan Hannard, Woodkirk High Specialist Science School

Ask a Physicist

Morely FM community radio station will broadcast from Woodkirk High Specialist Science School to Morely, Tingley and beyond for two weeks during July 2007. During this time, there will be a daily slot where members of the school science club answer physics questions posed by the listeners. In addition there will be a ‘Physics in the News’ segment which will introduce listeners to cutting edge physics and encourage discussion of any social, ethical or moral issues that might arise. Listen in online at

Nigel Moore

How Big Are Your (Carbon) Footprints?

Visitors to the West Midland Show in Shropshire on 23 and 24 June 2007 will be able to calculate their carbon footprints and find out more about the future of renewable energy sources. Having experimented with a small wind turbine, a PV panel and solar heating system, visitors will be able to work out their own ‘next steps’ in reducing their carbon footprints with the help of a variety of resources.

Simon Skelling, Kirklees Metropolitan Council Community History Service

Eye to Eye

During National Science and Engineering Week 2007 (9-18 March) local schools and families will be invited to take part in a series of events at the Dewsbury Museum. The events will explore the physics of light and how we see the world. Activities will include looking at how light wave are reflected by the mirrors in a periscope, how an ophthalmoscope uses light to allow us to see inside the human eye, and how shadows are created. Huddersfield Astronomical Society will also be demonstrating a solar viewing telescope. The museum will also be hosting ‘Dewsbury Men of Science’ – an exhibition highlighting the discoveries and impact of local scientists.

Barry Knowles, United Villages Learning Net

Family Learning in the Community – Physics is all around us

Magna Science Centre’s outreach team are working with the Learning Net to introduce new families to science through a series of workshops on kitchen science. The workshops will be hosted by local primary schools and will be held during the early evening to encourage parental involvement.

Debbie Rogers, Derbyshire Setpoint

Fluids, Phase Changes and Traffic Jams

Ever wondered why you suddenly come to a standstill when driving on a busy motorway, only to find that the traffic starts flowing again just 10 minutes later with no sign of what caused the hold up? Fluids, Phase Changes and Traffic Jams uses the laws of physics to show how changes in the speed and density of traffic can lead to spontaneous traffic jams and how the counter-intuitive action of reducing your speed can actually help you get to your destination faster. The talk is interactive with members of the audience playing the part of traffic on a simulated road. The first presentations of this talk will take place during National Science and Engineering Week (9-18 March 2007) at a selection of rural Derbyshire schools.

Ali Mozaffari, Imperial College

Imperial College Physics Society Outreach Programme 2007

This year’s outreach programme will culminate during National Science and Engineering Week (9-18 March 2007) with a big day of physics held at the physics department of Imperial College. The day will consist of lectures, seminars, lab tours and demonstrations aimed at showing pupils from local schools what studying physics at university is really like.

Dr Lynn Nickerson, Didcot Girls’ School

Reflections on Sound and Light

The school’s science club is working with a filmmaker to make a short film about sound and light. The film’s format, style, content and script will all be determined by the pupils. The film will be made with high production values to enable it to be shown to a public audience at Science Oxford in autumn 2007.

Nicholas Rattenbury, Jodrell Bank Observatory

The Jodcast

The Jodcast is a free monthly podcast produced by astronomers at the Jodrell Bank Observatory. It is available from the Jodcast website and includes interviews with leading researchers as well as news and current events in astronomy and space science. In order to increase the number of listeners to the Jodcast, a CD Rom of the best bits of the shows recorded so far will be produced and distributed to schools. In addition, banners will be produced to advertise the Jodcast within Jodrell Bank Observatory.