First term project
In the first term of their first year, each cohort writes and presents a science show for the general public that has been incredibly well received every year. The fourth cohort performed a show dedicated to their favourite areas of quantum mechanics called Amazing Quantum Worlds. Previous cohorts have performed shows entitled Oddities of Physics, Quantum Mechanics: Real Magic and Theatre of the Quantum Absurd. In the show each student is given a 5 minute slot in which they perform a demonstration talk on the given subject. The skills that the students develop in this course will go onto help them in their future careers as scientists, as it is vital that researchers can communicate their science. It is also hoped that they will discover an interest in outreach that will continue into their future careers as scientists.
Second term project
In the second term of their first year, students undertake an outreach project designed to reach an even larger audience and hone other aspects of their communication and team-working skills. This term the fourth cohort organised and undertook science busking where they developed and performed live demonstrations for the public in the street or in public spaces, helping them to come into contact with scientists and take part in hands on activities. We are currently in negotiations with the children’s entertainment website Moshi Monsters to undertake science busking with them at their live events taking place around the country. The second and third cohorts also undertook projects to produce video resources for use by school teachers and students. For their second term project the first cohort built a Rube Goldberg machine - an over-complicated machine for performing a simple task. The machine consists of different physics demonstrations triggering each other. The machine was filmed and each student filmed a short explanation of the physics behind their part of the machine. The final video and explanations is to be used as an educational resource. This project developed both communication and team-working skills in students.
Students are also regularly involved in other outreach projects, at all stages of their PhD. The projects that they become involved in vary from science busking at science and music festivals to collaborating with artists and organizing art exhibitions. It is also often possible for students to further develop their outreach work from the first and second term projects. For example, several students are adapting their contributions to the talk Quantum Mechanics: Real Magic to perform at the Green Man music festival. Students form all cohorts have also gone onto develop shows and talks for students at primary and secondary schools helping to inspire the next generation of scientists.