Imperial College London

Science and music come together to inspire school pupils


Mike Poyser from the Royal Albert Hall at a workshop

Workshop leader Mike Poyser from the Royal Albert Hall

Young people across London had the opportunity to learn about the sounds of the universe in a series of workshops combining science and music.

At four different secondary schools across London, Imperial College London students and a tuba playing physicist from the Royal Albert Hall came together to open pupils’ eyes, and ears, to the sounds of space.

We aimed to create new, fun and engaging ways for school children to learn about physics thanks to the medium of music. Dr Roberto Trotta Reader in Astrophysics

The workshops, which were organised jointly by Imperial and the Royal Albert Hall, included a variety of interactive activities designed to enlighten and inspire the pupils, such as using a slinky spring to demonstrate soundwaves and a tuning fork to show that sound travels through solids. Pupils compared the speed of sound in air (around 340m/s) to the speed of a car, a bullet train, and Usain Bolt.

The pupils also had the opportunity to try their hand at ‘DJ-ing’ with sounds of the universe, such as the sound from a black hole or cosmic microwave background radiation. Combining the sounds, the pupils were able to create their own intergalactic tunes.

Dr Roberto Trotta, Reader in Astrophysics at Imperial who co-developed the workshops said: “With this cross-disciplinary workshop we aimed to create new, fun and engaging ways for school children to learn about physics thanks to the medium of music and sounds.

“We focused on the Sounds of Space as an unexpected and spectacular way of talking about the physics of sound waves, as well as about the nature of the cosmos. The workshops were designed to be interactive, surprising and to mix music, astrophysics and DJ-ing in a memorable, action-packed series of activities.”

The Sounds of Space workshops were devised as part of an ongoing collaboration between Imperial’s Outreach team and the Education unit at the Royal Albert Hall. Royal Albert Hall Space poster

Current Imperial physics student Hannah, who volunteered at the workshops, said: “I think the universe is just the most incredible thing. Hopefully these workshops will open pupils’ eyes to how cool the universe actually is.”

Dr Trotta added: “We hope to support pupils and their teachers in their learning of some fundamental notions in the physics curriculum, but more importantly to spark and nurture a life-long passion for science. The most important lesson is that both music and science are fun, accessible and important elements in all of our lives.”


Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications and Public Affairs

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Strategy-share-the-wonder, Space, Students, Education, Public-engagement, Outreach
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