Soapbox Science on London’s Southbank
28th May 2016 I was one of 12 women selected to participate in the Soapbox Science London event, on London’s Southbank. I had on hour to stand upon my soapbox and share my research in experimental nuclear physics with the public. To attract the interest of passers-by I conceived and constructed two demonstrations which explained the processes of nuclear fusion and fission, using Hot Wheels and LEGO. The demonstrations were performed by the younger members of the audience, while I explained the processes being demonstrated. Over the course of the hour I had a changing audience of about 30 people on average, which included a mixture of male and female, young and old. I mainly discussed how nuclei are created, what we can learn from them and their applications outside of nuclear physics. I was asked a number of questions, and had a number of discussions with members of the audience. One discussion that sticks out came from a female member of the audience: “I didn’t realise nuclear physics was a thing before today, now not only do I know nuclear physics research exists but that women can do it!”
Langley Green Primary School
23rd June 2016 I visited Langley Green Primary School to provide the “Physics of Light” workshop to 60 Year 6 pupils. This workshop involved using different components of the electromagnetic spectrum to solve a murder mystery. The students used ultraviolet torches to identify which “poisons” could have been used to kill the victim, depending on whether or not they fluoresce. Home-made night-vision cameras were used, made from old mobile phones and infrared torches, to find clues in a blackout tent. The students put scientific method into practice to record their findings and draw founded conclusions. I received great feedback from this event, with many students indicating that this event has changed their impression of science.
The Bishop of Winchester Academy
12th July 2016 I visited TBOWA to provide the “Physics of Light” workshop to 204 Year 7 students. Three workshops were provided through the course of the day. In addition to the workshop activities provided at Langley Green Primary School, the students undertook two additional activities. Lasers were provided, along with a model of the victim’s laboratory where the body was found. The students used the lasers to see if a poison dart could have been targeted at the victim from an open window or door. A chromatography experiment was also performed on “blood samples” to identify any signs of poison in the victim’s blood. Once again the students followed scientific method to record their findings and draw founded conclusions.
UTC@Harbourside Inspirational Speech
The UTC@Harbourside is a STEM College in Newhaven, which provides 14-19-year-olds with a mixture of practical and academic learning in STEM subjects. On 21st July I was invited to the first prize giving event to address the students and inspire them to continue down the path to a career in STEM. I discussed my journey into experimental nuclear physics and the opportunities it has provided me with, as well as the many career paths open to me once I complete my PhD. I had a number of students approach me after my speech to express their appreciation for my visit, and how it has encouraged them to continue working hard in their classes.
Physics demonstrations at the 1st Netley Abbey Guides Unit
14th November 2016 I was invited to the 1st Netley Abbey Guide Unit to explain my research in nuclear physics to about 20 girls aged between 10-14 years old using interactive demonstrations. I started with a demonstration of nuclear fusion and fission to explain how most nuclei are created in labs across the world, using Hot Wheels and LEGO and a couple of willing volunteers. I then used a Van De Graaff generator to explain how particle accelerators work. Starting with a simple, yet popular demonstration for static electricity I used the Van De Graaff to make the hair of another volunteer stand on end. I then connected the Van De Graaff to a plastic bowl with conductive tape, and a ping-pong ball coated in conductive spray to demonstrate how particles can be accelerated. At the end I handed out some IoP goodie bags, which included leaflets with information about taking physics at A-level.