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Pupils explore nanotechnology at begbroke science park

Pupils from Oxfordshire and North London schools visited Begbroke Science Park today to attend its annual Practical Nanoscience for Schools workshop.

More than forty Year 8 and 9 pupils from Wheatley Park, Wychwood, Our Lady’s Abingdon and Hendon schools 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 nano structures 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. Materials scientist Gregory Rogers, leading the session on carbon nanotubes said, "It is a real challenge to explain such complex ideas simply and in such a short space of time but it is good fun, and the students really enjoyed making the carbon buckyballs".

The activities promoted a high level of engagement from all pupils, with all their teachers saying they would be happy to recommend the event to other schools. 

Christiane Norenberg, Nanotechnology Business Manager at Begbroke said, “We are 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.

Final places for the Practical Nanoscience for Teachers event on 15 July are going fast. To book places email events@begbroke.ox.ac.uk or book online at www.begbroke.ox.ac.uk If you would like to enquire about the 2016 Practical Nanoscience Schools Day or any of our other schools events please contact events@begbroke.ox.ac.uk