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The University's annual PER Seed Fund supports a range of engagement activities - the scheme usually opens towards autumn so why not take a look at these for some inspiration and start getting your ideas ready.

Congrats to the teams in Earth Sciences, Engineering, Chemistry and Physics who all had projects funded:

 

Professor Helen Johnson, Professor of Ocean and Climate Science; and DPhil students Matthew Kemp and Roberta Wilkinson, Department of Earth Sciences

Climate Change: Science, Research and Performance

Aimed primarily at children and young people, this project explores creative responses to climate science and research through performance and music. It consists of two complementary strands: a musical theatre show about climate change aimed at children(11+), teenagers and their families, and creative climate science workshops for older teenagers. These elements will be devised and delivered by science theatre duo Geologise Theatre, in collaboration with climate researchers from the University of Oxford, coordinated by Helen Johnson, Professor of Ocean and Climate Science. The hour-long musical theatre show will tell a story about climate change, directly informed by climate science research. The workshops will connect climate change researchers from a range of disciplines with young people, who will interview these experts and devise their own creative responses to the discussions. This project aims to break down traditional barriers between arts and sciences, and between researchers and the local community. It aims to empower young people to explore new ways to engage and express themselves in relation to climate change, its impacts and solutions.

 

Dr Ali Marie, Post-Doctoral Research Assistant; Department of Engineering Science

Scientific Adventure to Unravel Mysteries of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay (dental cavities) is one of the most common diseases in the UK and the main reason for tooth loss. Expenditure on dental services is significant, for example between 2015-2016 the NHS spent £50 million only on tooth extraction, not to mention other costs. Public health research has shown that prevention programmes aid in the reduction of tooth decay, and this activity aims to explore causes of tooth decay, steps everyone may take to promote dental health and some related materials research at the University of Oxford. Our group Dr Cyril  Besnard,  Dr  Sisini  Sasidharan led  by  Professor  Alexander  Korsunsky,  research  is to tackle tooth   decay challenge   by   undertaking   a   systematic,   coordinated,   multi-scale microscopic investigation, coupled with numerical disease modelling to move towards better diagnosis, and proactive intervention and treatment of tooth decay. We  would  like to  highlight  some  basic  physical  process,  including  mechanisms  of tooth cleaning   (brushing   and   flossing)   and  biomineral   loss from  teeth, and   explore   public perceptions  of  dental  care  and  materials  research.  Using  the  format  of  a  drop-in  hands-on science festival activity, I want to develop my own and my research group’s public engagement skills  meanwhile  delivering  messages  of  science to  children  and  families,  teenagers  and adults.  These  messages  include: relevance of  research  to  daily  life,  how  science  and engineering is all around us and that anyone can be involved at many different levels, there are careers in science that are exciting and varied, and that we can develop skill sat any stage in our lives that can help make us healthier.

 

Dr Patricia Rodriguez Macia, Glasstone Research Fellow in Science; Department of Chemistry

Small, yet Mighty! / Molecular machines to power our world.

This project  explains current  Oxford  Chemistry research  into the hydrogen  economy  andenzymatic   and   microbial   fuel   cells, showing how   metalloenzymes can   be   exploited   in biotechnological  applications to  provide new  routes  for  renewable  energy  technologies that contribute towards a more sustainable future. The  newly  elected  Glasstone  Research  Fellow,Dr Patricia  Rodriguez  Macia,  and  two  Oxford Chemistry  students,  supported  by  Chemistry  ‘Ambassadors’  and  the  Chemistry  Teaching Laboratory team, will co-develop and deliver at leastfour1-hour workshop targeted at 14-16 year olds. The design of this ‘blended’ workshop combining interactive/hands-on practical work and an online Q&A will allow it to be delivered in Oxford Colleges and/or Oxfordshire Schools during May-June 2022,and the workshop will become a staple of the Department’s engagement programme beyond the funding term. Those  engaging  with  the  workshops  will  gain  a  greater  understanding  of  Oxford  Chemistry research, its relevance to their everyday lives and the future potential of this area of research in solving the energy crisis and limiting climate instability. As a result of participating, those involved in  this  project will  be  more  positive  about  the  role  of  scientists  and  science  in  providing  viable solutions to the climate crisis.

 

Dr Suzie Sheehy, Royal Society University Research Fellowand  DPhil student Laurence Wroe; Department of Physics

Funky-Shaped Drums and Particle Accelerators

You may be hard-pressed to find a link between drums and particle accelerators. The underlying physics of these seemingly disparate instruments, however, is identical: our accelerator physics research to design a component that is able simultaneously accelerate and control a beam of particles in a particle accelerator is analogous to asking “if we build a drum that isn’t circular but instead more funky-shaped, what will it sound like?” This project will develop and pilot a workshop for 11-14 year-old school children to investigate the link between music, drums and particle accelerators. Students will be encouraged to play and undertake experiments with different funky-shaped drums and Chladni plates and help us with our cutting-edge physics research! We also hope to hold a concert in Oxford where the student scan perform to their families using the funky-shaped drums and explain the underlying physics. The aim of our project is to broaden student’s knowledge of what actually counts as science, build their science capital, and encourage an uptake in post-16 STEM study.

 

 

Click here to see all of the projects funded through the seed fund in 2021-22.

 

If you could like any support or guidance for a PER idea click here to get in touch.