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Public Engagement Grant Scheme funded projects 2012

Projects summaries from previous winning applications.

Karen Ashworth, Manor Field School

Faster, Higher, Stronger…But How Do We Know?

On Friday 26 June 2012, families in Burgess Hill will have the opportunity to take part in an evening of hands on activities exploring the accuracy of measurement in sporting events, with particular focus on the Olympics. Participants will make measurements using an array of instruments ranging from methods used in the early days of the Olympics up to the modern high tech equipment used today. Timed to coincide with the Olympics, the event will take place at Manor Field primary school and expects to engage over 500 people from the local community.

Susan Brumpton, The Making Place

The Astronomy Parade @ the Small World Festival

At Small World Spring festival 2012 the Making Place will team up with the Travelling Observatory with the aim of inspiring and engaging 300 festival-goers with astronomy and astrophysics. Visitors will be able to make observations of the sun, moon and stars, build models of the solar system and make solar system themed costumes for a grand parade through the festival site. The workshops and observations will be facilitated by astrophysicist Elisa Krauss who will be stimulating discussion and answering questions about the solar system.

Helen Chomczuk, Edinburgh International Science Festival

Science Busking Carts

In Spring 2012 science buskers will take to the streets of Edinburgh City Centre with Busking Bikes armed with a range of activities and eye catching demonstrations. Their aim is to engage and inspire a wide range of people with simple physics tricks in an informal setting. Activities will include dipping balloon animals in liquid nitrogen, making fireproof balloons and sublimating dry ice. The buskers will be appearing during Edinburgh International Science Festival on 24/25/30 March and 1/7/8 April 2012.

Emma Dennis, Exmoor National Park Authority

Exmoor Dark Sky Discovery

The Exmoor National Park Authority will be running an event for the public aimed at raising awareness of astronomy and the role that Exmoor's international dark sky status contributes to and enhances night sky observation. The event is open to people of all ages and backgrounds and will consist of presentations from the Tiverton Astronomy Society, guided night sky observation (weather permitting), a planetarium and various hands on activities. This event will happen before the end of March 2012 (exact date to be confirmed). 

Avril Gibson, Northern Learning Trust

‘Mid-winter Festival of Light and Shadow’ Creative Theatre of Science

In January and February 2012 the local community of the Meadowell Estate, North Tyneside will work alongside experienced shadow puppet makers to produce a shadow puppet performance exploring the nature of light. Workshops leading up to the performance, will see adults and children investigating the properties of light through such mediums as puppet and lantern making, storytelling, poetry and music. The performance will weave the ideas explored about light in the workshops together, in a way that will engage an audience of both adults and children. The performance will take place in the Meadows Community Centre in February 2012 and it is expected that an audience of 60 -120 people will attend, with a similar number being involved in the periphery activities.

Pat Glenday, Kilchoan Learning Centre

How Physics Shapes Our Lives in West Ardnamurchan

Adults in West Ardnamurchan will be taking part in a series of four workshops, each exploring a different physics topic linked to key features of the local environment. Topics explored will be optics and the nature of light using Stephenson’s lighthouse, gravity and forces using the tides at Sanna beach, energy and electricity with local renewable energy sources and the history of the universe and star formation using the night sky. The workshops will be facilitated by a local physics teacher and will consist of discussions and simple experiments demonstrating some of these concepts in action.

Allan Hopkins, The Warwick School

Science Circus at The Warwick

On Saturday 23 June 2012 the Warwick School will host a day for the local community involving practical, hands-on and fun science demonstrations aimed at engaging participants of all ages and backgrounds. Student Ambassadors from the University of Surrey will be on hand to facilitate the activities and resources and support will be provided by the South East Physics Network. Several 1 hour lectures exploring the physics of light and the nature of forces will take place along with Laboratory based workshops. The project aims to attract 1000 people.

Natalie Kay-Thatcher

Jiggling Atoms

Jiggling Atoms will engage and inspire artists and regular attendees of art exhibitions with the visualisation of physics concepts at a week long exhibition in early May 2012. The exhibition will take place at a gallery in East London and the physics focus is centred on six videos of Richard Feynman from the BBC archive series ‘Fun to Imagine’. There will be workshops attended by several artists and physicists to discuss how the concepts explored in these videos can be visualised. In response to these discussions the artists will go on to create six exhibits linked to the physics in the videos. There will be talks, comedy and the chance for visitors to make their own Feynman diagram print in a workshop facilitated by particle physicist Abigail Schlageter. 

Clare McLoughlin, Phys-CHIC!

Phys-CHIC! Science can take you anywhere

From January to April 2012, a group of physics and maths students, studying at Aberystwyth University, will visit schools and youth groups in and around Aberystwyth. The aim is to inform and inspiring young people about the wide range of exciting careers that can follow a physics degree. There will be a focus on the more unusual applications of a physics degree such as rollercoaster design, cosmetic science, renewable energy and electronics through a series of interactive workshops. The aim is to reach an audience of around 1,500 young people.  

James Millen, University College London

The Quantum Workshop

The Quantum Workshop will be visiting various science festivals and museums across the country throughout 2012, demonstrating a unique exhibit that levitates tiny glass spheres using laser beams. The project has been awarded £10,000 from the Beacon Innovation Seed to build the device, which will be used to introduce the public to modern research, particularly quantum mechanics. The workshop is targeted at adults, however, will be accessible to children, and there will be experts on hand to discuss the experiment along with an interactive lecture. 

Larissa Paver, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

Physics on the Foreshore

‘Physics on the Foreshore’ aims to engage summer holiday visitors to Porthcurno valley, particularly families with children, about physics and the amazing contribution it makes to our everyday lives. From 7 to 10 August 2012, 16 volunteer science communicators will be physics ‘busking’ at a marquee adjacent to the beach car-parks from 10am to 4pm. There will be a variety of simple physics tricks for visitors to try out with encouragement from the volunteers to think about the physics involved. As a free public event mid-week, it is anticipated the volunteers will reach at least 600 holidaymakers per day.

Jill Turner, High Peak Community Arts

Travelling Light in Hope

Visitors to Peak District Walking Festival festival in Hope Valley, in April 2012 will have the chance to engage with the wonders of optics, in a yurt based 360 degree camera obscura. Participants can take part in interactive workshops where they will experiment with focal length, reflection and refraction of light. The physics involved will be explained in a fun and engaging manner and led by an experienced and professional film-maker. There will be approximately seven sessions during the day, each holding 10 people.

Tom Whyntie, Imperial College

Adventures in Space and Storytime: Finding the Theatre in Physics

Three workshops in the North East, London and Oxford will encourage a total of 25 - 30 physicists to develop their communication skills through working with a professional theatre director, Delyth Jones. The workshops will take place in March and April 2012 and each workshop aims to produce a number of five minute performances based on the physicists research. The participants will be encouraged to develop these pieces and present them at local Bright Clubs, Café Scientifiques and other events where researchers engage with the public. Ideas from these workshops will be used to produce an hour-long show entitled Dark-Matters, which will be shown at science festivals around the country and a theatre in London.

Naomi Wyles, Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre

Backpacks for the Jodrell Bank Planet Path

The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre will put together 10 physics-themes backpacks to accompany their Planet Path. The backpacks will use a range of hands on activities to highlight temperature, density, gravity and weather variation between planets in our solar system. The backpacks are targeted at families and can be borrowed for their journey along the Planet Path to enrich their experience. Alongside the activities there will be further information about the different planets looking at different aspects of physics. The backpacks will be introduced in February half term and evaluated to improve the packs for further use.

Zoe Young, Education Through Expeditions (ETE)

Polar Physics Day

On 14 March 2011, ETE’s Educational Outreach Team and Plymouth University physics students will run a Polar Physics Day for the local community in Plymouth. Participants will be able to take part in a variety of hands on workshops which will highlight the ways in which polar explorers, and scientists, apply physics and carry out further research. Workshops will explore a number of themes, one of which involves using popcorn to investigate the physics of neutrinos, and relating this to the Ice Cube Project – an Antarctica based project searching for high energy neutrinos. The day will be held at a local community venue and is targeted at young people and families with children. There will also be an inspiring keynote speech will be made by Dr Antony Jinman, Polar Explorer, Public Speaker and CEO of Education Through Expeditions.

Joyce Branagh

Bridges – a play for younger children and their families

Rachel Red and Billy Blue are both building things – but with different materials in their respective colour. Each knows different skills to the other and different approaches to building – they inadvertently discuss the physical properties of the materials they are using and the physical forces at work. They are competing to be the first to build a bridge across the river in their home town, but who will be the first to succeed? There will be a free showcase of Bridges to around 200 children and families on Thursday 18 October at the M6 Theatre in Rochdale.

Ghazala Butt

Salaam Activity Week

Salaam Activity Week (SAW) is an annual, week-long summer camp commencing on 27 August which aims to inspire up to 75 underprivileged children, aged 5-15, by engaging them with fun, educational activities. This year’s theme – Islam and Science – will be explored through a series of hands-on workshops provided by interactive science groups Mad Science and The Imagineering Foundation. Topics such as forces, space and aerodynamics will be explored among many others.

Tina Crimp, Techniquest

South Wales Physics Roadshow

In summer 2012, two presenters from Techniquest in Cardiff will demonstrate several mini-exhibits and perform short busking shows at three shopping centres in socially and economically deprived areas of South Wales. The mini-exhibits will demonstrate various principles of physics such as light, sound, forces, materials and electricity in a fun and interactive way. The roadshow will be free to the public and is designed to reach families who otherwise might not have access to STEM activities. By the end of the roadshow it is expected these activities will have reached over 2000 people.

Andrew Gardiner

Implementation of a Small Lecture Facility

A small lecture room will be built at Seething Observatory in rural Norfolk, the home of the Norwich Astronomical Society (NAS). This room will allow for more targeted delivery and personal interaction between volunteers and visiting members of the public than the current lecture theatre. The new room will be designed to support regular public open evenings and other public engagement activities of the NAS.

Richard Hornby

Physics of Music

As part of Whitby Folk Week (18 to 24 August), there will be a series of three fun and informative workshops exploring the relationship between physics and music. Each workshop will focus on a particular instrument family (strings, wind/brass, electronic music and recorded media) and 30 participants – largely made up of independent adults and families – will carry out collaborative experiments investigating wave phenomena. Upon completion of the workshops in Whitby, it is anticipated that these workshops will be repeated at similar music orientated events.

Douglas Hunter, Equal Arts

The Physics of Bubbles

In September 2012, a series of bubble workshops will engage a group of older people, a group of primary age school children and the general public in Newcastle. Each group will take part in separate workshops investigating the physics behind bubbles, and then they will come together for a large outdoor workshop in Newcastle City Centre which will form the basis of a short film. This will be further shared with the general public through placing the video on YouTube. The workshops will take place from Wednesday 12 September.

Scot Owen, Techniquest Glyndŵr

Putting Communities First with Astronomy

In the October 2012 half-term holidays, there will be two free stargazing events for communities in and around Wrexham. One event will take place at Plas Madoc Leisure Centre and the other will take place at Queensway Sports Complex. Both events will consist of interactive planetarium shows delivered in Techniquest Glyndŵr’s two 360° inflatable domes followed by live stargazing (weather permitting). There will also be science busking taking place to entertain waiting members of the public. It is anticipated that each event will be attended by 100 -150 people.

Shama Rahman

The Science Stories

Secret Garden Party, Wilderness Festival and the London based arts venue Richmix will each play host to a two hour long exploration of contemporary physics combining physical theatre, film, art, comedy and music over the summer 2012. ‘The Science Stories’ will bring physicists, artists, comedians, film makers and actors together to interpret concepts such as quantum mechanics, chaos theory, multiverses and space exploration in an entertaining way for over 2000 people.

Aidan Robson

Particle Physics for Fife, Perthshire and Kinross

On Wednesday 29 August 2012, the University of St Andrews will invite an adult audience of around 250 to attend a programme of talks and activities that will see visitors engaging with scientists at the forefront of the CERN physics programme. Hands-on experiments and displays will be provided by the Particle Physics for Scottish Schools project and the University of Glasgow Experimental Particle Physics group. Central to the activities will be a lecture given by a well-known UK particle physicist. This event is part of a public engagement day organised as part of the 69th Scottish University’s Summer School in Physics.