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Science Open Day: working for a green future

Posted on 17/02/2010

Budding scientist making a fossil

Royal Holloway, University of London is welcoming visitors of all ages to its Science Open Day on 27 February 2010 from 10am to 4pm. Showcasing many aspects of the extensive research and outreach of the College’s science departments, there will be free talks, workshops and hands-on sessions based on the theme ‘Working for a Green Future’.

Eight different academic departments have organised programmes of activities, allowing visitors the opportunity to explore the latest developments in science across the campus.

Dr Darren Baskill will kick off the keynote speeches with his talk ‘Xtreme Astronomy’ where he will lead the audience through an account of where X-rays come from. The second keynote event will be a talk from broadcaster, writer, and academic Dr John Emsley, showing how science can help us feed a population of nine billion people. The final talk of the day will be from popular speaker Dr Roger Key, former education officer for Natural England, on hunting for bugs in Antarctica. There will also be a series of ‘university challenge’ contests where eight local school teams compete to win a substantial prize for school science equipment.

The astronomy theme runs right through the day, with planetarium shows, and workshops from both the Museum of the History of Science (Oxford) and the Royal Observatory (Greenwich) on the long history of astronomy. Visitors will have the opportunity to make constellation cards or a working astrolabe.

This year the College will also be hosting a wide range of displays and activities from local and national organisations working together to improve the local environment through encouraging higher levels of recycling and composting, and supporting schools and colleges wishing to launch communal gardens and wildlife areas. The Fairyland Trust return to run their fun and theatrical ‘Fairy Jewels’ workshops where families can make fairy jewellery, mostly using natural or recycled materials while learning about rare British beetles, and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species will be onsite to help families create their own simple ideal beetle habitats.

Elsewhere, you can make model viruses and DNA in the School of Biological Sciences and learn how X-box games, Lego robotics and CGI films are made in the Department of Computer Science. At the Department of Earth Sciences, find out how we measure earthquakes using seismometers and geophones, pan for gold, and follow the story of life’s evolution through a fossil challenge.

Watch an expert flintknapper in action making stone tools in the Department of Geography and discover what life was like for people in Britain 15,000 years ago, when mammoths roamed the land and glaciers still covered the north of the country. Break codes and learn how to send secret messages in the Department of Mathematics or sign up to ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ for a chance to be a TV presenter or to work behind the camera.

At the Department of Psychology, take part in interactive demonstrations for investigating attention and awareness, and test your ability to recognise emotions. Visitors to the Department of Physics will be greeted with a host of captivating activities, including the opportunity to build a model roller coaster, watch objects magnetically levitating and draw patterns with the harmonograph.

Dean of Science, Professor Philip Beesley commented, "I am delighted to see the exciting programme for our Science Open Day, our best ever. The day provides a superb opportunity to enjoy the fun and excitement of science and its relevance to so many major issues such as global warming."

Dr Emm Barnes, Science Outreach Officer, who is co-ordinating the event said, "We are delighted this year to be further expanding our range of workshops and talks, with more on offer for teenagers and adults alongside the very popular primary trail. We hope that the day will inspire visitors to keep studying science, and to try to protect and improve our local environment."

For further information on the programme visit:


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