Discover Materials continues to roll out materials science outreach

Despite continued COVID constraints across the UK, Royce outreach Partner Discover Materials has continued to have a major presence at Science Festivals and undertake some fantastic Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) outreach in schools.

As part of the Cheltenham Science Festival, Discover Materials delivered two school workshops for Key Stage 2 (KS2) and KS3 students for Cheltenham’s Science for Schools programme which runs until 13th September – teachers can sign up to the festival here

Henry Royce National Outreach Officer, Dr Chris Hamlett, based at the School of Metallurgy and Materials and the University of Birmingham, produced an engaging video entitled ‘Saving Humpty Dumpty’  aimed at KS2 students, and Discover Materials Ambassador Amelia-Rose Edgley produced a video for the programme entitled ‘Space Shuttle Re-entry‘ around Materials for re-entry for KS3 students, combining the winning combination of space travel and materials.

Discover Materials Chair Alessandro Mottura and a Discover Materials Ambassador, Alex Dickinson-Lomas have also recorded a video for “Big Bang Digital” about the well-known pudding Baked Alaska and thermal barrier coatings – increasing our understanding of why the ice cream doesn’t melt!

Chris also led a team of Discover Materials Ambassadors from three different universities at the Malvern Science in the Park event on 26th June. During the day the enthusiastic Ambassadors carried out a range of interactive activities involving smashing chocolate, tensile testing, expanding marshmallows and discussing a range of materials on the ‘Materials Show and Tell’ table  – which included the use of clip-on microscope lenses, bringing a completely different visual experience to the young people attending.

Science in schools  

Chris has recently kept up the momentum on school engagement, including running an online event for six local Birmingham schools as part of the University of Birmingham’s Discovery Day. This widening participation event offers the chance for year 10 pupils to discover the different subjects on offer within the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, many of which they may not have come across before, including materials science and engineering.

Alongside this, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) funding has been secured to produce “Science Boxes” for year 6 and 7 students at a number of Birmingham schools; these include a clip-on microscope lens and booklets introducing the students to crystals, atoms and bubbles – as well as a Materials Scavenger Hunt. This will also see a live outreach event to explain the boxes and a microscope session from Discover Materials Co-Chair Dr Mark Coleman, who is a Lecturer in Metallurgy Materials Science and Engineering at Swansea University.

Chris said:

“It’s fantastic to get involved in a mixture of Festivals and events, as it’s a particularly great way to engage a range audiences and produce high quality online content to use for our upcoming new website. I really enjoy the live, interactive school sessions too, as it’s wonderful to introduce Materials Science to the students and get their feedback on how exciting they think it is!”

The Discover Materials team, in partnership with Royce, is in the final stages of building a new Discover Materials website aimed at school students, teachers and families to help them to understand MSE and where it can be used in the classroom, at home and, more importantly, in the syllabus, by providing a blend of resources and signposting to high quality content already available online.