Hosted at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cheshire’s Jodrell Bank, Royce returned to Bluedot 2023 for the first time following the pandemic. The festival ran from Thursday 20 July and Sunday 23 July.
Against the backdrop of the Lovell Telescope, the festival was set to be an exciting (and muddy) showcase of music, science, and entertainment.
45 volunteers comprising PhD candidates, research associates and academic staff from across Royce, the University of Manchester’s Department of Materials, and the Discover Materials network persisted through the wet weather to deliver outreach activities.
Royce’s Marvellous Materials stand included a variety of activities all focused on how the varying properties of materials make them suitable for very different purposes. The stand welcomed over 1500 visitors over the course of the festival.
For the younger age group, Discover Materials’ Charpy Impact Test compared the tensile strengths of a range of chocolate bars, showing which was most resilient.
The University of Manchester’s Department of Materials occupied their own table in the stand, for a microscopy demonstration. The stand allowed visitors to get a close-up look at a host of butterfly wings and insect armour alongside other objects with interesting material structures, in order to better understand how their structures gave them colour. Alongside this, visitors were able to create their own patterns on fabric using colourful chemicals which then disappeared upon exposure to heat!
The NAME group demonstrated the basic principles of materials science in novel ways. From a Lego Atomic Force Microscope to an activity that converted light waves into sound, MIDAS researchers facilitated an exploration of the core principles and methodologies used in materials science, encouraging visitors to use their imaginations and ask questions.
Volunteer researchers from MIDAS and Lightform also joined the stand, leading an activity that focused on the properties of metals and allowed for visitors to explore the makeup of these metals at the microscopic level, bend metal bars, and experiment with Nitinol wire, which changes shape at different temperatures. All of the activities showed the differences in the properties of an array of metals and encouraged visitors to think about the suitability of each metal for it’s standard purpose.
Royce’s Outreach Officer, Alice La Porta said:
“This year’s stand featured a fantastic range of outreach activities focusing on the characteristics of advanced materials that we encounter in our daily lives. Our volunteers talked with the public about the properties of materials, explaining the field in an accessible and engaging way. Over the weekend, we met hundreds of visitors at our stand to try the activities, quiz the experts and engage in fun discussions about science.”