On Tuesday 15 December 2020, Discover Materials hosted a live virtual outreach event aiming to introduce the field of materials science to secondary school students. More than 30 UK schools registered for the event, and an additional 50 school students from over ten different countries signed up independently.
The live event was the culmination of a two-week ‘Discover Materials this Winter’ campaign, which included a new series of YouTube videos being posted to the Discover Materials channel, as well as a competition to design a seasonal decoration from recycled or sustainable materials.
On the day, the Discover Materials team hosted a variety of live sessions, including an interactive microscopy workshop led by Dr Mark Coleman from Swansea University, a talk about Fusion power from Dr Ed Pickering and Dr Aneeqa Khan from the University of Manchester, a materials science question and answer panel hosted by Erin McNeill from the University of Leeds, and a materials science quiz led by Dr Anna Ploszajski.
The day also featured pre-recorded content, including a talk from Professor Rachel Oliver of the University of Cambridge taking students ‘Inside an LED’, and Dr Chris Holland from the University of Sheffield presenting on ‘Silky Science’.
The afternoon featured a live panel Q&A session, hosted by Erin McNeil from the University of Leeds and featuring recent graduates Chris Morris (from the University of Sheffield) and Monique Latty (from Swansea University), Dr Han Zhang from Queen Mary University and Ella Podmore from McLaren. The day was rounded off by two more talks: one from the Birmingham Battery Bunch, led by Lizzie Driscoll, and a demonstration about how to create an infinity mirror, from the University of Manchester’s Dr Naomi Curati.
Comments from participants praised the ‘polished delivery’ and ‘lively Q&A session’, as well as the ‘varied programme’. Dr Chris Hamlett, Royce National Outreach Officer and organiser of the Discover Materials this Winter event, said,
“Discover Materials is an inter-university group which, supported by the Henry Royce Institute, aims to promote the uptake of Materials Science degrees among UK students. We were really pleased with the way that the schools and students engaged with this event, which introduced participants to a range of materials science topics and applications. We hope to run more events like this in 2021.”