Outreach

I will be posting links to activities and outreach opportunities as part of the East Midlands Branch of the Institute of Physics (IoP) and Outreach Coordinator for Loughborough Physics Department. For undergraduates – this is a good opportunity to get involved in science communication (or to play with some cool toys). Ideas are always welcome!

IoP I’m a Physicist Brownie/Guide Badge

brownie badges

The East Midlands branch of the IoP launched the ‘I’m a Physicist’ girlguiding badge in Nottinghamshire in January 2019. Over 25,000 badges have since been completed, and a map of groups that took part is available here.


Previous Outreach Activities

Athena STEM Online Workshop – renewable energy in farming: solar powered watering system, 2021

Videos outlining components of an offgrid self-built watering system. Included use of Arduino, solar power, water pumps, 3D printing.

Ford Fund Residential Course – Wind Power Workshop, 2018, 2019

1-2 hour workshop, where groups of students were set a challenge:

1) Construct a working Homopolar motor

2) Build a mini wind-turbine using a motor, blue tack, and some paper/card.

STEM Community Day at Loughborough, 

“Each year, Loughborough University hosts a ‘Community Day’ event where Loughborough locals are invited on campus to take part in various ‘science based’ activities.”

As part of this we have had light painting, nitrogen ice cream, painting with ferrofluid, electrodough and superconducting train demos running.

3 Minute Wonder

Come watch as early career researchers try to explain their research in just 3 minutes. With nothing more than a single slide and any props they bring along, there’s usually a cash prize up for grabs.


Observatory visits as part of brownie/scout/girl guides (etc) badges

If you are a Beaver/Scouts/Guides/Brownies leader in the Loughborough area that want access to the observatory as part of your groups ‘Space Badge’ please contact me.

Ongoing: Anyone interested in physics/science outreach can get involved and there are several events throughout the year where you can help out, such as:

– UCAS visits and open days

– Observatory open evenings

– National Science and Engineering Week (including Community Day)

– The Big Bang Fair

– Science workshops

– Nottingham Light Night.

Currently available demos

1.  Electrodough kit

Use electrically conductive playdough (flour+salt+lemon juice+oil+water+food colouring) to create colourful and imaginative circuits. A useful activity to teach basic aspects of electricity (positive and negative terminals to a battery; LEDs; switches; resistance), or just to while away some time.

2. Superconducting Train Demo

Watch the floating train effortlessly glide around a magnetic track. Coupled with a ferrofluid flask this is a useful demo to help explain:

– The use of liquid nitrogen

– Permanent magnets

– Superconductors

– Magnetic fields and flux pinning

– The difference between ferromagnetism and diamagnetism

– The Maglev concept for high speed train travel

– The use of superconducting magnets at CERN

3. Ferrofluids

A black *goop* consisting of iron nanoparticles coated in a surfactant and suspended in oil. This enables 3D visualisation of magnetic fields.

Ferrofluid example

4. The Peltier Powered Cloud Chamber

A diffusion cloud chamber that allows you to see the emission of alpha and beta particles from some weak radioactive sources. Rather than use dry ice to keep the base cold, two Peltier cells coupled together are used to reach temperatures as low as -30 C. This is a useful demo to help explain:

– Radioactivity

– Supersaturation

– Cloud formation

– The difference between alpha and beta particle emission

– The effect of a magnetic field on charged particles

– The Peltier and effect and Peltier cells

5. The Two Balloons

You have two identical balloons that have been inflated to different sizes and connected by a tube that is currently clamped (i.e. no air flow between them). What happens to the smaller balloon when you unclamp the tube? A great demo to explain:

– Elasticity

– Air pressure

– Hysteresis

6. iPhone Microscope

Constructed from the lens from a laser pointer and some adjustable perspex slabs… A great way to demonstrate:

– The lens equation

– Microscopy

7. The Homopolar Motor

Constructed from a battery, magnet and some spare wire (or paperclips), this is a great way to demonstrate:

– The Lorentz Force (left hand rule)

– Where physics ‘ends’ and engineering ‘begins’…

Research Lectures

When a lab just won’t cut it: experiments in a beamline

Time: 13th December 2017, 2-3pm

Place: U0.05, Loughborough University

New Directions in Energy Research or a Magnetic Quirk?

Time: 26th March 2014, 4-5pm

Place: W.003, Loughborough University

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