Public Engagement Grant Scheme funded projects 2018

Projects summaries from previous winning applications


Family Action

Project: Rock it!

Family Action is a charity committed to building stronger families and brighter lives by delivering innovative and effective services and support to many of the UK’s most vulnerable people. Thanks to funding from the Institute of Physics we will be arranging four Rock It! fundays to engage vulnerable families without prior interest in physics in a range of fun, family-friendly and hands-on rocket-themed activities (e.g. balloon, water rockets). For example, participants will explore ways rockets can go higher, faster and further, with competitions for the best designs. These inclusive fundays will take place during the 2018 summer holidays in the North West and Midlands, and will welcome both children and their parents/carers. University outreach physics staff will support community-based facilitators to choose and deliver activities that are safe, appropriate and fun for families, and scientifically accurate. Learning and good practices will be shared widely throughout Family Action’s services.

Alice Highet

Project: Playing with Time

What is the present and is the flow of time an illusion? These mind-bending questions are the catalyst for this project. The aim is to engage families and independent adults with complex ideas relating to the physics and philosophy of time, through an exhibition of playful and accessible artworks.

Artist Alice Highet will work alongside Dr Beth Bromley at the Department of Physics, Durham University to explore how fundamental theories of physics such as relativity and thermodynamics, describe the nature of time and how this relates to our experience of lived time.

From 6th- 26th October 2018 we will display an exhibition at The Oriental Museum, in Durham, encompassing 3 interactive, kinetic and optical sculptural objects, exploring the physics themes outlined above. The exhibition will be accompanied by a booklet explaining both the art and the physics, alongside a website.

The target audience is independent adults working in education and the creative industries, alongside families visiting Durham City during half term, from County Durham and the North East, with no formal science background. The estimated audience is upwards of 2500.

The Oriental Museum is an important cultural venue and a popular attraction in the North East. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the Institute of Physics engagement theme of 'Time' for 2018, alongside Durham Book Festival and the Celebrate Science Festival in Durham City, which are both well attended. This capsule exhibition has the potential to tour, with interest from galleries outside Durham City.

Smoking Apples Theatre Company

Project: Flux - Public Engagement Workshops

Smoking Apples are an award-winning theatre company currently producing a puppetry and visual theatre show called Flux, about a female physicist working in nuclear physics. The IOP public engagement grant will go towards working with teenagers in the North of Cumbria, to engage them in physics through theatrical workshops in January 2019. These will include the use of puppets, props and set from Flux, to explore a basic introduction to nuclear physics through drama and puppetry.

Smoking Apples are proud to be working with the IOP to provide the participants with relevant and accurate careers information, encouraging the next generation of young people, particularly females, to become physicists. We are also excited to be working with Kirkgate Arts in Cockermouth to host the workshops and help us to engage the local community.

We are a London based company, but we rehearse and develop our shows across England in order to reach a wider audience who may not have access to alternative types of theatre. For this project we will work with Kirkgate Arts, in Cockermouth, to deliver a series of public workshops in the area, looking at making physics accessible, through the creative vehicles of drama and puppetry.

Smoking Apples have extensive experience of running workshops in puppetry and drama. Current education projects include Spectrum Youth Theatre based at the Little Angel Theatre in London, and Shadow Play Puppetry Workshops, a series of workshops for people living with Dementia as part of Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival.

Jessamyn Fairfield, National University of Ireland Galway

Project: Interactions: Using the Performing Arts to Explore Nanoscience

Interactions will feature a multimedia dance theatre piece combined with short science lectures to explore nanomaterials and nanoelectronics. California-based interdisciplinary choreographer Deidre Cavazzi will choreograph the piece with local Galway students in collaboration with Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, School of Physics, NUI Galway. The performances will utilize multimedia components, including projections and props, to create an immersive theatrical environment at the O’Donoghue Centre in NUI Galway, and a Q&A session with scientists, artists and performers will follow each performance.

Telegraph Museum Porthcurno

Project: Time-lab

From the picturesque coastal village of Porthcurno, Cornwall, the Telegraph Museum will relocate some of its exhibits and experts to the town of Penzance to deliver a pop-up Time-Lab during the October school holidays (21st – 27th). Using the museum’s excellent resources for demonstrating the science of time and motion, they will illustrate some of the physics underlying modern communications, including timekeeping right up to modern day GPS systems. This will include astronomical motions, relativity, pendulums, and the effects of gravitational and frictional forces. There will be exciting dramatic hands-on experiments and demonstrations led by expert staff and volunteers from the museum, who will enable school-aged children, and their families, to experience the wonder and relevance of physics in an informal, fun and interactive environment, outside the structured school approach.

There will be focussed sessions for groups of home educated young people and community groups, such as cubs and scouts. The rest will be open to the public, marketed directly in the town during the festival as well as beforehand through school and community channels. We hope to reach around 450 younger people and families directly, and around 20,000 online.

The museum’s experts will be trained to become supportive explainers, able to pitch the physics concepts at appropriate levels for this age group. Time Lab will be video-recorded and made available on the museum’s website and via social media.