Getting festive with science



Festive science activities round off a year of local engagement in White City.

In what has been a challenging year, Imperial’s community, outreach and public engagement teams have been working with community partners to support local residents in White City.  Focusing on learning and engagement through science and technology, the teams at the Invention Rooms, the College’s dedicated space for innovation and the local community, have worked on a range of new initiatives this year – including science activity packs for local groups and clubs, phone tech support for the elderly and socially distanced family science workshops.

Fun home science experiences

With Christmas around the corner, 600 festive themed science activity packs have gone out to local families and community groups. The packs are targeted towards ages 6 -11 and made up of simple science activities including: building structures with straw, designing an alien to live on another planet, and measuring the speed of lava, as well as making cards and decorations for their families. Three of the activities in the packs were made with Imperial researchers including Professor Chris Jackson, who is due to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture this year.

Carmella Obinyan, Community & Maternity Champion Manager at Parkview (White City) said: "These packs will provide countless activity hours to keep young minds engaged in science activities, and shape the minds of future potential scientists from the White City community."

Lydia Gandaa, Director at Bubble Squeak Eat and After Schools Club Manager at Old Oak Community Centre said: "The science packs have helped relieve some pressure parents and carers face during these difficult times through providing fun home learning experiences. Children have fed back that they really enjoyed the range of activities in the packs, and felt they have learnt new skills which they were able to share with their peers and teachers at school."

Staying connected through phone befriending

The Business School’s flagship community initiative What the Tech!? moved online since the beginning of the first UK lockdown in March. What the Tech!? is run by volunteer staff and students at Imperial who usually provide free weekly drop-in sessions offering tech support and advice for elderly residents in two community locations around the White City Campus. Since the pandemic, older residents are now matched with a phone buddy for tech and befriending support, offering them up to two thirty-minute sessions every week via telephone or video call with a dedicated Imperial volunteer.

The programme has doubled in numbers and now has supported over 90 people over the past nine months. It includes attendees from the in-person sessions, as well as newcomers who have been referred to the programme by local organisations.

Socially distanced family science workshops

Working with researchers from Imperial’s Molecular Sciences Research Hub, the public engagement team created a series of socially-distanced family science activities for the autumn half-term, which included a mixture of workshops and a live demo event. The activities included a dye-making session, an exploration of the science behind bath bombs, a molecular science show and an atoms-and-art workshop.

During the autumn term, the team have started piloting a new Saturday Science Club for families, which will be expanded and developed in 2021 to reach even more local residents.

Christmas wreath making kits

To mark the end of the year, Imperial partnered with the Hammersmith Community Gardens Association to offer over 60 festive wreath making kits to local residents and community groups. The kits include a range of natural materials, including moss, holly and honeycombs, together with instructions and a video guide on how to make the perfect wreath.

In previous years, the wreath making workshops would have been held in The Invention Rooms, the College’s community engagement space at White City.                       

Find out more about Imperial’s work with local communities around the White City Campus.


Amna Siddiq

Amna Siddiq
Office of the President

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