2015 Successful Projects

STFC Public Engagement Large Award

Dr Rob Appleby
University of Manchester

‘Tactile Collider: an interactive event for the blind and partially sighted’

1 September 2016 to 31 August 2018

Rob Appleby

(Credit: The University of Manchester)

This first-of-a-kind project aims to communicate the science, the excitement and develop an interest in the particle physics, the LHC and the Higgs boson to a large and previously untargeted demographic group. The main target audiences are: children (aged 10-18) and adults who are blind and visually impaired (collectively VI), along with their carers and teachers; an audience not considered in established particle and accelerator physics public engagement activities but who make up 2M of the UK's population.

The programme of activities is focused on the LHC and the recent discovery of the Higgs boson and is directly relevant to the particle and accelerator physics agenda of STFC. The timely project will be delivered with the specialist skills and experience of the university staff, professional science communicators and specialist organisations.

The core of the project is the development of the Tactile Collider event, consisting of a specially designed interactive talk coupled with tactile exhibits based on particle and accelerator physics components and unique audio descriptions. The experience will be related to existing LHC and Higgs talks in scientific content but significantly adapted in terms of delivery to the audience. Specially created tactile components related to detectors and accelerators will be integrated with the talk, and an assistive reader (used by most VI people) and braille brochure developed.

This exhibit will tour many of sight-related schools in the United Kingdom and the material will be used at science festival and Pi: Platform for Investigation events. The latter events will also reach the general public, providing education on the unique needs of blind and partially sighted people.

Dr Nathalie Pettorelli
Zoological Society of London

‘Soapbox Science - bringing science and technology to the art community’

1 September 2016 to 31 August 2018

Nathalie Pettorelli

(Credit: ZSL)

This project aims to achieve wider participation for public engagement of science by bringing STFC science to a new audience of people who do not have the opportunity/funds/time/inclination to go to their local university's open lab event but who do enjoy visiting their local art festival.

It will do so using the proven Soapbox Science approach of a no-frills, grass-roots outreach initiative which invites active research scientists to stand on wooden soapboxes to strike up dialogue with the passing public on their cutting-edge scientific work.

Participating scientists will benefit from training in innovative methods in science communication, and opportunities for them to collaborate with established artists and art students while developing strategies to engage their audience. The project will also help promote the visibility of these scientists who are active in UK-based, STFC-related research in traditional and non-traditional media outlets, boosting their profiles and careers.

Importantly, the proposed activities will provide opportunities for a diverse pool of children in the audience to engage with scientific concepts, develop an interest in research and show them how to break down the stereotypical thought that 'science and art don't mix'. Altogether, this will help make a real difference to the perception and role of science by the public.

Professor Gail Cardew
Royal Institution of Great Britain

‘Accelerators for humanity’

1 May 2016 to 31 October 2016

Gail Cardew

(Credit: Royal Institution)

The project is intended to raise the profile of how particle accelerators are transforming lives through their uses in medicine and industry.

'Accelerators for Humanity' will deliver a curated programme of live events and digital video resources.

The project will capture the dedication of particle accelerator researchers in STFC-funded facilities and highlight the varied ways in which their work is impacting on our lives in areas such as medicine, food safety and nuclear power.

STFC-funded researcher, Suzie Sheehy will deliver a public talk about her work designing accelerators and their potential future applications in areas such as the treatment of cancer. This along with the expert panel discussion will be made available as a permanent digital resource.

The Royal Institution will also produce a series of short films exploring the human stories of particle accelerator researchers working in STFC-funded facilities:

  • an animation exploring the challenges faced in building accelerators
  • a science demo video explaining the principle by which accelerators trap and transport charged particles
  • an interactive video providing a 360 degree view inside an accelerator

Dr John Coxon
University of Southampton

‘The planeterrella: Bringing the aurora to the public’

1 April 2016 to 31 May 2017

John Coxon

(Credit: University of Southampton)

The team is aiming to enthuse people about the aurora and space weather and engage them with the exciting world-class research that is being carried out at Southampton and across the UK.

This award will enable the manufacture of a planeterella, an experiment in which artificial aurora can be generated around magnetised spheres in a vacuum chamber. This will allow the Southampton team to bring the aurora to the public and schools, providing much-needed awareness of space weather and the potential impact that it has on all of our lives.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000