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The Department of Chemistry has been awarded a grant from the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Outreach Fund to help attract a new generation of young people to study chemistry and continue a successful Science Together pilot collaboration.

The new funding will support a collaboration with the Oxfordshire Play Association (OPA), to bring Oxford’s ‘Creative Chemistry Tent’ to community events across Oxfordshire in 2023.

The tent will offer Chemistry-inspired play opportunities for families visiting OPA community days, as well as information about a new Chemistry at Home resource developed by the Department of Chemistry. Scientists from the Department will also be involved in showcasing some of Oxford’s latest Chemistry research.

The Department of Chemistry’s Educational Outreach Officer, Saskia O’Sullivan, first teamed up with the OPA last year as part of the University’s Science Together programme.

Saskia facilitated a project involving OPA and researchers from the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University, which culminated in a report, 'Why play is important in Oxfordshire', and supporting infographic, aimed at regional and national policymakers, on the importance of play for children in Oxfordshire.

Commenting on the grant, Chemistry’s Head of Department, Professor Mark Brouard, said: ‘I am delighted that this wonderful initiative has received funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry, enabling the Department to bring the amazing work of our researchers out into the community. It is especially exciting that this project will work with so many young people in Oxfordshire, who represent future researchers in our highly creative discipline.’

Saskia O’Sullivan, the Department of Chemistry’s Educational Outreach Officer, said: ‘We know that play, and time for creativity, is vital for the well-being of young children and has wider benefits for the community. Chemistry, as a discipline, involves a great deal of creativity and is a subject for the curious. We are delighted, therefore, to receive funding from the RSC to promote scientific curiosity and play with local families through our Creative Chemistry Tent, as well as to promote our ‘Chemistry at Home’ resources.’

Martin Gillett, Manager of the Oxfordshire Play Association said: ‘The Oxfordshire Play Association (OPA) are delighted that the University of Oxford’s Creative Chemistry Tent will be joining them for their annual programme of free community play and activity days in 2023.

‘These events promote physical and mental health and wellbeing via play, and are delivered using the ethos of National Playday. In the last 10 years OPA has delivered almost 130 of these events across Oxfordshire, with over 145,000 children, young people and families in attendance. The events offer both free entrance and free activities, to ensure inclusion for all.

‘Science is an excellent medium to help children play whilst being underpinned by an education element, showing that play and learning together can be fun! The team from Oxford University will also be providing ‘Chemistry at Home’ resources, ensuring that the play and learning will continue after the event.’

A spokesperson for the Royal Society of Chemistry said: ‘The RSC are looking forward to hearing how the project unfolds and the reaction that will be seen from the audience.’

A series of new Science Together collaborations are underway with community groups from across Oxfordshire, for the 2022/23 academic year.