Lancaster University: Lancaster Physics supporting science festival for schoolchildren

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A science festival for schoolchildren is being organised by Lancaster Physics PhD student Jamie Dumayne.

The Newtown Science Festival will take place at Newtown High School, Powys, Wales, on Saturday September 17.

It is being supported by Lancaster Physics which is also sending the department’s own mobile planetarium, LUniverse, accompanied by Dr Julie Wardlow.

The free event for children aged 7 to 16 will bring together various science organisations, covering areas such as hydrogen cars, vertical farms and astronomy.

Jamie, who attended a nearby school in Wales, said he wanted to encourage children from rural backgrounds into science.

“There was always the sense that you have to move to a big city which may put off people from rural areas from pursing science as a career.

“I had a teacher who started teaching an astronomy GCSE in his own time and I was part of a group that got to try it. But he taught in a way that showed it was possible to do astronomy in rural Wales without having to be in the big city and without fancy equipment.

“That’s why I’m bringing together a diverse group of exhibitors, to show children from rural backgrounds that it is possible for them to pursue careers in science. I’ve also tried to make as many of the activities as possible available in Welsh.”

The festival will include an exhibition room, with activities including an exhibit from Lancaster Physics using a cloud chamber to teach about background cosmic radiation.

Children will also get the opportunity to build a keyboard using an Arduino electronics platform plus a demonstration of cameras to be used by ExoMars, the next European Space Agency rover to go to Mars.

Dr Julie Wardlow will be in attendance with Lancaster’s mobile planetarium, LUniverse, as well as Dr Andrew Blake, Freya Metcalfe and Dr Agnieszka Nowak from the Physics Department.

Dr Wardlow said: “It’s a privilege to support Jamie’s dream of bringing the excitement of cutting-edge science to the people of Newton in a fun and accessible way. The whole LUniverse team is looking forward to showcasing the wonders of the night sky at the event, and to exploring the other activities and exhibits that Jamie has planned for the science festival.”

There is also support from other universities including Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Chester, Wrexham Glyndwr and Swansea plus sponsorship from local businesses.

The event is being funded by the Royal Astronomical Society and Lancaster Physics department.

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