Our main outreach activity
consists of a series of science workshops for primary
schools, targeting year 5 and year 6 children. For the current 2018 project, we are funded by the Royal Society and the STFC.
Description: The workshop begins with a short lecture by our robot,
followed by five activities, aimed at multiple learning
styles. The activities are centred around explaining the
concepts of chirality, properties of light and metamaterials.
These activities are:
1. Laser Rig - The children get a
chance to safely guide a laser beam, using professional
grade components that they need to assemble and position
themselves. 2. Light Piano - Light is a wave, just like sound. By
attaching 7 coloured light bulbs to 4.5V batteries, the
children construct a piano and play popular tunes on it. 3. Crystal Clear- In our research, we use laser beams to
study metamaterials. These are artificial materials, with properties
that go beyond those available in Nature. Using a set of magnetic
rods and metal balls, the children get to build a large
structure that mimics an atomic crystal lattice and they
learn of the very limited number of crystal arrangements in
Nature. 4. Metamaterials - The children learn about
chirality by looking at chiral patterns and drawing their
image in a mirror. They can create new patterns too. (sheet) 5. Light under the microscope - The children look at various objects with a microscope. In particular they examine the colours that make up pixels and can see for themselves how colour mixing works.
A short description of the workshop activities is provided in this presentation: ScienceWorkshop.pdf (2.15 MB)
Before and after our visits, children fill in this questionnaire: Pre-Activity_Evaluation.pdf (131 KB). The results of the test allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of our workshops.
Prince Edward presented Dr Valev with the Vice-Chancellor's
Award for Public Engagement with Research.
Questionnaire results for workshop held at schools:
The children engage very well with the content of the workshop. There is a clear improvement in the test results for all classes; the results "after" are 2 times higher than the results "before" the workshops.
Our workshops are clearly changing children's minds and improving their appreciation for science. We find that, whereas around 30% of children think that they could never be scientists before our workshop. Afterwards, this number diminishes dramatically!
Questionnaire results for workshops held at the University of Bath:
Here again we see the same trends. The children engage very well with the content of the workshop; they are also clearly changing their appreciation for science. The statistics are similar to those above.
However, workshops at the University of Bath seem to be more effective than workshops at the schools. At the University, the test results before and after show a larger improvement - scores increase 3 times, versus 2 times at schools. Compared to workshops on the schools, at the university, we see that for visits to schools the "Before" scores are higher. This could be because, for visits at the university, we selected schools that are further away from Bath.
Together with Adam Seedat, Alex Murphy, Lukas Ohnoutek and Emily Perry, we visited St Philips Primary School, in Melksham. We worked with 31 children, in a years 6 class.
Teacher Chris Bentley-Taylor said: "We hope you can come again next year!" A student said: "I have never used a screwdriver before! I am not allowed to use screwdrivers at home." Another student said: "Best day at school!".
Together with Aaron Ueckerman, James Fossey, Isaac Frewin and Rhys Templeman, we visited St Philips Primary School, in Melksham. We worked with 31 children, in a mixed years 5/6 class.
Teacher Tom Richmond said: "I thought the structure of the afternoon was very effective in maintaining children’s interest and developing their understanding of the topic. The robot really engaged the class and there was a great sense of wonder when it was performing. The carousel of activities worked very well; each session was purposeful and engaging; the timing worked to keep concentration levels high. The children clearly found the whole afternoon fascinating; there were plenty of gasps and exclamations about how fun the activities were. It was a well managed lesson too; there were high expectations of behaviour; the session leaders were clear in their instructions about how to use the equipment and conveyed a friendly but professional manner. As well as an excellent learning experience, it was a good opportunity for children of primary age to use equipment and resources usually unavailable in schools and have a positive interaction with university students."
Together with Aaron Ueckerman, Lukas Ohnoutek, Adam Seedat, and Alex Murphy, we visited Newtown Community Primary School, Trowbridge. We worked with 31 children, in year 6.
Assistant Headteacher Anneka Fisher said: "We feel privileged to have such a strong link with university scientists. We really appreciate everything you do and the inspiration you give our children." Teacher Rosie Amey said: "Many thanks for coming to visit us at Newtown. The children thoroughly enjoyed the session and are still talking about it at times now. I felt that the session was very accessible for all children; we have some low ability children in the class that struggle to access sessions but were able to access the activities we had on the day. The children were inspired by the activities and the leaders; many have said that they would like to study science at university, in particular- Bath University. I think the timing was just right, while rushed to set up some of the equipment, the children all had the same experiences as they moved around the room. We would love to see you back here next year and I’m sure the children now have a memory that will stay with them for a lifetime- they wear their badges every day on their school uniform."
Together with Dr Robin Jones, Dr Kristina Ruseva, James Fossey, Dr Anita Zeidler and Tomos Davies, we hosted a science workshop on light for 33, year 6 children from Paulton Junior School.
Teacher Vicky Langan said: "The children had a fantastic time! For me, as an experimented teacher, I though the whole experience was great, to see children who often find learning difficult to be engaged and say things like, “Wow, that just blew my mind,” was amazing. It also gave some of them the aspiration to want to go to university as they experienced actually being in one! The tours really supported this too! Please pass on my sincere thanks to the guides and leaders of the activities - they really helped make the day a success. In terms of the activities, I thought they worked well. The children said that they enjoyed they enjoyed all of them! There was a bit of listening and doing which worked well. I think being in a slightly bigger room may of been beneficial. We simply had a great day, it was so well organised - thank you once again!"
Together with Lukas Ohnoutek, Caroline Bertems, Dr Kristina Rusimova, Dr Nerys Shah and Miranda Bane, we hosted a science workshop on light for 31, year 5/6 children, from King's Lodge Primary, in Chipenham.
Teacher Nicky Batterton said: "This workshop was a fantastic opportunity for our children to learn more about light and colour in a way they could never have done in an ordinary school setting. It was a brilliant learning opportunity that excited and engaged the children whilst at the same time challenging them. Most of the children who thought that they could not be scientist have changed their minds and it was wonderful to see the look of amazement in their eyes. For my class in particular, the chance to learn in a university setting with REAL scientists was really inspiring. This workshop combined scientific learning with awe and wonder and we would be very happy to recommend it to other schools. We very much appreciate the hard work of all the staff involved."
Together with Dr Robin Jones, Meg Tucker, Christian Kuppe, Caroline Bertems, Dr Kristina Rusimova and Lukas Ohnoutek, we hosted a science workshop on light for 28, year 5 children from Paulton Junior School.
Teacher Kat Goucher said: "We all had a great time and the children all gained so much from the day. The activities were pitched just right and were just the right amount of time as well. The children were all engaged throughout and found it easy to get on with everyone involved. They also really enjoyed the short tour of the labs and the tour around the university itself. Many of them told me then that they would love to go to university and they would love to come to Bath!"
Together with Dr Nerys Shah, Meg Tucker, Christian Kuppe, Caroline Bertems and James Fossey, we hosted a science workshop on light for 31, year 5 children from Paulton Junior School.
Teacher Katy Burke said: "It was a very enjoyable day and the children were very interested in learning about light. It was a topic they had not covered before so they came away with lots of knew knowledge. It was great for them to take part in the different activities and see equipment that you use. They enjoyed going into the labs as it was very different to what they thought they might be like."
Together with Robin Jones, Meg Tucker, Valentin Haemmerli and James Fossey, we gave away 212 stickers to primary school children who came to visit our stand at the Bath Taps into Science festival. We also gave away many business cards to teachers who are interested in hosting our science workshops on light.
As part of the Communicating Physics unit, our students Hannah Tonry, Gurvinder Dhesi and Tomos Davies presented our research on a separate stand at the Bath Taps into Science festival. They gave away over 150 diplomas to children who visited them.
PhD student Christian Kuppe lead our team (Anastasia Efthymiadou, Caroline Bertems, Aaron Ueckermann and Charlotte Parry), who hosted a science workshop for 30 children from year 6, in Marksbury Church of England Primary School, Marksbury at the University of Bath. Georgina Glaser and David Chapman from Public Engagement at the Royal Society joined us as observers. Following the workshop, the children visited our labs.
Teacher Adele Webb said: "As a class teacher in a small primary school, it can be difficult to find the time to plan and deliver high quality science lessons. We are a small staff and therefore have limited expertise. In addition to this, we have limited resources. Therefore, it was great to bring the children out to visit the university and for them to have access to high quality science." She added: "When we returned to school, we had a discussion about some of the things we had learned and the children were really interested and had lots of questions. During the class discussion, I asked them to show me anonymously who thought they could be a scientist. I thought it might be of interest to you that the two children who did not believe that they could be scientists both have an average reading age approximately two years below their age." And she concluded: "Finally, all of the research students were fantastic - so clear in their explanations. Not only did the children feel inspired but all three members of staff left wanting to return to University to continue learning!"
Dr Kristina Rusimova, lead our team (Amanda Ho, Richard Degnan and James Fossey), who hosted a science workshop for 27 children from year 5, in Newtown Community Primary School, Trowbridge at the University of Bath. Artist Angel Greenham and Robert Cooper from Public Engagement at the University joined us as observers. Following the workshop, the children went for a lab visit.
Assistant Headteacher Anneka Clare Fisher said: "Working in an area with a huge percentage of pupil premium children, we work hard to inspire and offer children as many experiences as possible to boost their confidence, believe in themselves and gain ambitions for the future. Ventsi’s outreach programme (part of tap into science week in Bath) underpins those three core values and offers an insight into further education for our children. He brings with him a team of enthusiastic students who carefully plan and deliver a variety of engaging activities to teach the children about light and physics. Ventsi works incredibly hard to inspire young people and many of my class now hold aspirations to be a scientist at Bath University at the tender age of 11; this is brilliant! He is wholly committed to his beliefs, love of science and strives to promote this within his local community."
Lead by Joel Collins, our team consisting of Kosio Karchev, Tom Langer, Richard Degnan and David Hooper, hosted a science workshop for 26 children from year 3, in Holbrook Primary School, Trowbridge, at the University of Bath. We were also joined by artist Angel Greenham. Following the workshop, the children went for a lab visit.
Teacher and science coordinator Linda White said: "Children talk about their experience in an aspirational way gaining a belief that it could be them in the future directly as a result of the workshop. It is significant that children who are gifted and talented along with those working significantly below their age can access the activities equally; gaining from it new knowledge, a sense of excitement, questions and an enthusiasm about science. It then ripples out to the parents who, comment about the excitement with which their children talk about their experience with Photon the robot and his scientists. She added: "In fact, one parent is now looking at going back to complete further education with a view of getting a degree after our last visit." She also said: "It is essential that scientists are ‘real’ people for children and wider communities allowing the academic world to be ‘de-mystified’ and understood."
10/03/2018 - St Pauls Learning Centre, Bristol
Kicking off British Science Week, our students Hannah Tonry, Gurvinder Dhesi and Tomos Davies, who took part in the Communicating Physics unit, presented our research, as part of "Photon fun!" This event took place at St Pauls Learning Centre, in Bristol.
Together with Rebecca Purkiss, Joel Collins, Christian Kuppe, David Hooper and Philip Main, we visited King Edward's Junior School in Bath where we ran our science workshop for 56 children in two year 6 classes.
Gavin Maggs, one of the parents, sent us the following message: "As dad’s taxi yesterday I had three Year 6 11yo’s in the back of the car, all of whom were absolutely raving about the workshop, how much they had enjoyed it, and how very complicated subjects had been presented to them in ways they could understand – photons, lasers, they had a ball. I haven’t seen them that animated about science before, so please take this as feedback of the highest order."
The Science Coordinator Miss Siobhan Paul said: "We were so amazed at not only the variety of the activities which engaged our children but also the way the activities were targeted specific links to the year 6 curriculum. It was so perfectly pitched to our children’s ability. The children were entertained throughout, in what was an extended curriculum opportunity they would not receive in normal lessons. It is clear that you and your team have put in a lot of time making sure the children show progress/learning from the workshop – I really liked how links were made to the previous work station through questioning, as well as using the survey data to assess learning – this really was an incredible day for our children."
Together with Rebecca Purkiss, Miranda Bane, Joel Collins, Nerys Shah, Kristina Rusimova and David Hooper, we visited Holbrook Primary School, in Trowbridge where we ran our science workshop for 60 children in two mixed year 5 - year 6 classes.
"The workshop was fantastic and even our 'harder to reach' pupils were engaged and laughing about their learning. This is very impressive! The quality of the resources that you were able to provide the pupils with was great." said teacher Elaine Flann. For the other class, teacher Catherine Duke added: "The children had a fantastic afternoon. The workshops were perfectly pitched and kept them all fully engaged. They only wished that the afternoon could have gone on longer."
We participated in the festival with an activity on crystal lattices and the nature of metamaterials. Together with Christian Kuppe and Philip Main, we gave away 403 stickers to children who came to visit us. We also engaged with parents and alumni of the university.
"We are loving @UniofBath #bathunifest. We can't shift the little one from the crystals tent." tweeted Jolene Galbreath @Skepticracy, one of the parents.
Together with Rebecca Purkiss, Kristina Jones, Philip Main and Anastasia Efthymiadou, we visited Kington St Michael CE School, in Chippenham, where we ran our science workshop for 22 children in year 6.
"I don't usually like science but this was really great!" said one of the school girls. Teacher Laura Driscoll stated: "The children absolutely loved it and have said that it's inspired them to study science and given them a desire to learn more! As an observer, I'd say each activity was extremely well planned, resourced and delivered. The children were equally as excited to go to each of the activities. All the adults were very helpful and enthusiastic which is so important to this age children! The fact that the children were able to have a go was great - and that they were trusted to do so. All in all, we were very grateful and impressed and would love to have you back again in the future!"
Together with Photon and a team of 4 (Joel Collins, Caroline Bertems, David Hooper, Alistair Muir, Kristina Jones, Rebecca Purkiss), we spent an afternoon in Newtown Community Primary School, Trowbridge. Our workshops ran with 32 children in year 6.
Teacher Anneka Fisher said: "The children were absolutely buzzing after your workshop today and were so enthused by what they had learnt. Each adult was a natural teacher with the children and really engaged them. We cannot thankyou enough for this first hand experience that has inspired them and myself to explore science further."
Together with Photon and a team of 6 (Joel Collins, Caroline Bertems, David Hooper, Alistair Muir, Kristina Jones, Rebecca Purkiss), we spent a whole day at Oldfield Park Junior School. Our workshops ran with two classes of year 6 children (64 in total).
According to teacher Penny Jenner: "For many children, whose parents have not been to university, the University of Bath is just this thing on the hill. It is great for the scientists to go into schools and make personal contact. This way, the university seems much more accessible for all the children."
Together with Photon and a team of 6 (Joel Collins, Christian Kuppe, Caroline Bertems, David Hooper, Alistair Muir, Philip Main), we spent two mornings at St Philips Primary School. Our workshops ran with two classes of year 6 children (53 in total).
Teacher Caroline O'Neill said: "The children loved it! It was lovely to see them so engrossed in all of the activities. Compared to last year, we really liked the new activity with the microscope and think there could have been even more use of this, especially because we don't have the opportunity to use such high-tech equipment! Overall, it was a fast paced, interactive workshop, which engages the children as well as challenges their thinking. To see the wonder on their faces whilst the robot spoke to them was fantastic!"
Together with Photon and 4 PhD students (Joel Collins, Rebecca Purkiss, Anastasia Efthymiadou and Christian Kuppe), we spent a day at St Philips Primary School. Our workshops ran with two mixed classes of year 5 and year 6 children, (60 in total).
"The children loved the workshop a lot. They didn't want to go on break time. And this has never happened before!" said Charlotte Ince, who is a teacher in the school. "The sessions were exciting, stimulating and fast-paced," commented Chris Bentley Taylor, also a teacher in the school. "No prior knowledge was needed to access the exciting science, so the children could enjoy the activities straight away", added his teaching assistant.
Together with Photon and 4 PhD students (David Hooper,
Rebecca Purkiss, Caroline Bertemes and Nicola Bannister), we spent an afternoon at Paulton Junior School. Our workshop ran with a mixed class and a half of year 6 children, (34 in total). We returned on a second day in the school together with Joel Collins, Christian Kuppe, Philip Main and Dr Nerys Shah to run the workshop for another group of 34 children.
Our workshop ran with three mixed class groups of year 5 and year 6 children, (91 in total). Our teams were composed of Joel
Rebecca Purkiss and Caroline Bertemes on the first day, then Joel Collins, David Hooper, Christian Kuppe, Philip Main and Rebecca Purkiss on the second day and finally, Miranda Bane, Anastasia Efthymiadou, Rebecca Purkiss and Joel Collins on the third day.
"All of the children were fully engaged in the tasks and were active participants in their learning all afternoon. The children enjoyed the afternoon immensely, they are still talking about it a few weeks later and often spontaneously recall learning from the afternoon and make links with other areas. Thank you for an inspiring afternoon." said teacher Catharine Young.
"The children really enjoyed this." said the science teacher Juliet Hayward.
Together with Photon and 4 PhD students (Christian Kuppe, David Hooper, Joel
Rebecca Purkiss), we spent two mornings at Combe Down Primary
School. Our workshop ran with two classes of year 6 children, (60 in total).
"Unfortunately, we sometimes just don't have the
tools to stimulate some of our brightest children. Hosting
this workshop has really helped and we would jump at the
opportunity to have more." said the science teacher Caroline
Together with Photon and 4 PhD
students (Joel Collins, Christian Kuppe, Philip Main and
Rebecca Purkiss), we spent a days in Oldfield Park Junior
School. Our workshop was ran in 2 classes for a total of 60
children in year 6.
"I was very surprised that the children I expected to
disconnect very soon were some of the most engaged in all
the activities of the workshop." said one of the teachers.
Together with Photon, a
team of 5 PhD students (Joel Collins, Kerrianne Harrington,
David Hooper, Christian Kuppe, Philip Main and Rebecca
Purkiss) and Dr Nerys Shah (our Outreach Officer in the
Department of Physics), we spent two entire days in Widcombe
Junior School and engaged with 120 children. We ran 4
workshops, of 2 hours each, with all the children in year 5
and year 6 of the school.
"The kids loved it and the staff have also said lots of very
positive things about the sessions." said Katharine Hughes,
the science teacher in the school.
27/06/2017 - VKV gave a talk in the School Physicist of the Year Awards. These awards are sponsored by the Ogden Trust to celebrate the most outstanding Year 12 A-level Physics students from schools across the region. There were 14 students receiving awards and they were attending along with their families and teachers.
15-16/06/2017 - VKV participated in the "University Open Day" and gave 4 talks to 600 visitors to the Department of Physics
at the University of Bath. This event was aimed at final year high school
Purkiss and Dr Nerys Shah took some of our kit to about 15 children in the science after-school club. It was a very positive experience for the children though the structure of the activities was significantly diminished in this more relaxed setting (compared to classroom). Several children complained about the behaviour of other children.
Together with Photon, Joel Collins, Christian Kuppe,
Hajah Fatin Ameera Binti Hj Mohd Yaakub and Erwandi Haji
Harun, we spent a day on the Bath Taps into Science
festival, where 1400 primary school children came to visit.
"I changed my opinion about science today; I think it
is really cool now!" said Lex, one of the year 5 children,
from Oldfield Park Junior School.
Together with Photon and our final year students, we visited the Cubs of the 10th Bath (Combe Down) Scout Group. The robot presented a lecture on electricity to an audience of 16 cubs who were in the process of getting their science badges and were delighted to meet him.
05/12/2015 - We welcomed 50 visitors to our lab and explained current research and final year projects. This event was aimed at final year high school
12/09/2015 - Participated in the "University Open Day". I
gave talks to an audience of over 400 visitors to the Department of Physics
at the University of Bath. This event was aimed at final year high school
18/06/2015 - Participated in the "University Open Day". I
gave talks to an audience of over 400 visitors to the Department of Physics
at the University of Bath. This event was aimed at final year high school
23/04/2015 - Participated in "Let's Talk". This is an open
meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell. Our
outreach activities were held in parallel and were aimed at Senior
Management and University Staff members.
20-21/03/2015 - Participated in "Bath Taps
into Science". Bath Taps into Science is part
of British Science Week (formerly National Science and Engineering Week) at
the University of Bath. All the events run during Bath Taps into Science are
completely free. The event
consists of a large number of outreach activities with primary and secondary