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Curiosity for Nanotechnology

Nano Schools Day

On June 19 2013 Begbroke Science Park welcomed forty-four Year 8 pupils, from four local Oxfordshire schools, to take part in our ever-popular annual Nano Schools Day. The aim of the day was for students from Sibford, Wychwood, Kingham Hill and Our Lady’s Abingdon School to explore and appreciate the idea of Nano Science and its application in everyday products.

The Nano Schools Day is designed to make this complex topic accessible to students by highlighting Nanotechnology in their daily lives and its uses within innovation and technology. The students were fully engaged throughout the day having the opportunity to participate in a range of practical experiments such as exploring the nature of hydrophobic coatings, magic sand and discovering how small a nanometre actually is! The pupils also used a compact handheld Dino-Lite digital microscope to take a closer look at cantilevers used for scanning probe microscopy.

Begbroke Science Park plays an important role in the University in helping to set up relationships between University academics and industry to encourage creativity and innovation in research, which is then turned into commercial reality. The Maths, Physics and Life Sciences division at Oxford University plays a role in training the next generation of leading scientists. Dr Vanessa Cheel, Outreach and Access Officer at the MPLS division, leading activities on the day, encouraged students to pursue a career in science and to continue science at further education. ‘Pupils don’t have to decide what area they want to specialise in right away and throughout their career can change disciplines as well as having time for a family.’

Alan Wallis, Physics teacher from Sibford School and first time visitor to Begbroke, expressed how applied and manageable the six bite size activities were, ‘Getting our pupils focused for short time periods on a variety of hands-on experiments is great.’ Teachers were also very interested in further activities that could be taken back to school or brought to them through the University. Lynn Doughton from Wychwood School commented that, ‘all the activity leaders were infectious in their enthusiasm.’

As Professor Peter Dobson OBE, Academic Director of Begbroke Science Park, commented on the importance of the day, ‘Putting across the huge opportunities that Nanotechnology offers is always a challenge, but it is very rewarding and stimulating to share new ideas with young people. Many of the applications that would have seemed to be very futuristic are currently in consumer goods and also being produced locally. We want our next generation of scientists and engineers to think imaginatively and apply nanotechnology in new ways.’

Don’t miss out on our Nano Teachers Day event, a follow on from the Nano Schools Day, held on site this July 18th. If you would like further information please contact us on events@begbroke.ox.ac.uk or call 01865 309625 to book a space today!

nano-schools-day-2013

Ben Roeves