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Begbroke Science Park > News and Press > Time for Nano – Pupils Explore Nanotechnology At Begbroke Science Park
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Time for Nano – Pupils Explore Nanotechnology At Begbroke Science Park

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Pupils from Oxfordshire and Hampshire schools visited Begbroke Science Park (BSP) to attend its annual Practical Nanoscience for Schools workshop on 15th June 2016.

Over 35 Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils from Wheatley Park, Wychwood, Oxford High and Eggars School, Hampshire took time out of their normal day to explore the fascinating world of nanoscience.

The event opens the door to nanotechnology, showing students where it is already being used in their daily lives, not to mention the vast range of future applications.  Showing pupils day to day examples makes this highly complex topic much more accessible.

Pupils took part in six practical workshops, ranging from exploring the nature of hydrophobic coatings and “magic” sand, to constructing complex models of carbon nanostructures from plastic tubes. All the sessions support the school curricula, and the knowledge is relevant all the way through to A levels.

The sessions were led by DPhil and post-doctoral researchers from the Physical Sciences research groups based at Begbroke.  Engineering DPhil student Catherine Fan, leading the session on Hydrophobic Coatings said, “What was great about the activity was that we played with items that we interact with every day but they had been manipulated to have extraordinary abilities (hydrophobicity). The children were immediately engaged and fascinated as they tried to come to terms with what they were seeing. It was great to see them light up because of science. Many times science can seem hard and daunting but also magical. Many of the kids immediately thought of ways to use the water-repellent technology for clothing, glasses, car wind shields, and of course pranks!”

The activities promoted a high level of engagement from all pupils, with all their teachers saying they’d be happy to recommend the event to other schools. Lynn Doughton, Head of Science at Wychwood School stated, “What we like best about this event is the opportunity to show how subjects that are compartmentalized in the school curriculum, are so interrelated.” One of the pupil’s thoughts was, “That it changes your perception of the world around us.”

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Christiane Norenberg, Nanotechnology Business Manager at BSP said “We’re thrilled that the day has again been so well received. It is highly rewarding to show the pupils how these seemingly futuristic applications are starting to appear in consumer goods already. We aim to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, and to encourage them to think imaginatively about science and nanotechnology. It’s also an invaluable experience for our graduate students, giving them an opportunity to engage with the public to explain their work here at Begbroke.”

Begbroke Science Park also offers skills training in nanoscience for teachers. The one-day course complements the student workshop, providing teachers with all the resources to deliver nanoscience activities in their own classrooms which support the GCSE/GCE and BTEC curricula.

BSP’s Practical Nanoscience for Teachers will take place on the 13th July 2016.   This event is fully booked for this year but if you would like to enquire about the 2017 Practical Nanoscience Schools Day or any of our other schools events please contact events@begbroke.ox.ac.uk.

Joanna Grant