The Astrophysics & Space Research Group at Birmingham has a wide range of regular Outreach programmes and activities aimed at school students, science teachers and the general public. Here are some of our recent and ongoing events:
- Public talks: We have a programme of regular talks on astronomical topics for the general public- these are well-attended, and widely publicised in the local media, and by means of posters at schools and libraries. Recent speakers have included Simon Singh, David Malin and Fred Watson.
- One of the highlights is the Patrick Moore lecture Series, a thrice-yearly series, funded by a STFC Small grant (Tea, talk and telescope), where the talk is followed by observations using small telescopes in association with student members of AstroSoc.
- Talks by members of group at other
venues: Members of our group regularly deliver popular talks at schools, public events and astronomical societies. Here
are some recent examples.
- Collaboration with AstroSoc
and the Grubb telescope: We organise various events throughout the year for the general public in association with the University Astronomical Society (AstroSoc) including observing nights for visiting groups of students, scouts and guides and for the general public. As an example, the public event on occasion of the Venus Transit in 2004 attracted a lot of media attention, including BBC national news. We have recently been awarded a grant to renovate the historic Grubb telescope on the roof of the Physics building for use on public nights.
- Collaboration with
ThinkTank, Birmingham's Science Museum:
Members of our group play important roles in various current activities of and planning future ones for ThinkTank, Birmingham's popular museum of Science.
- Supervision of CREST Gold projects/Nuffield Bursaries: Our members participate in the supervision of CREST Gold awards projects for Year 12 students, and will continue to do so. Recent examples of such award-winning projects have involved mapping of the 3D distribution of nearby galaxies using the HIPASS survey, and a study of the solar corona.
- Visit of student groups to the University or the Observatory: We encourage regular visits of student groups to the Astrophysical facilities or to
the University Observatory at Wast Hills, for tours
involving staff and students.
- Work placement for school students: We accept Year 9/10 students for work experience programmes lasting one or two weeks in the Easter and Summer vacations, to provide them with an early flavour of astronomical research and career opportunities, and familiarise them with the use of computers in research, and to astronomical material available in the media and on the web. This activity is coordinated by the Schools Liaison office, along with the various other branches of physics.
- Inter-school Einstein Physics Quiz: In November 2005, the first inter-school Einstein Physics Quiz was held as part of our Einstein Year activities, with support from the Institute of Physics. Over 180 Y9 students from 20 schools in the West Midlands area participated, and several group members were involved in the event. We hope this will become an annual event from now on.
- Astrophysics Workshops and Masterclasses for school students: We organise annual Masterclasses in Astronomy for Year 9-10 and Year 11-12 students, using the resources of the First Year Astrolab and our teaching observatory. In 2006, we held two Masterclasses in Astrophysics for the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth programme. This activity is coordinated by the Schools Liaison office, along with the various other branches of physics.
- XMM Satellite Schoolpage: We have a micro-web site that contains information and diagrams intended for members of the general public with an interest in Astronomy and the XMM Satellite.
- Open Day events:
Members of our group play a very active role in preparing displays at the University Open Days for prospective undergraduates and postgraduate students, held several times a year, and are present to discuss their research and general astronomical issues with members of the public.
- Radio/TV programmes:
BBC Midlands TV News has on several occasions filmed its news/weather programmes at our Observatory, and has involved members of staff in its news items concerning current scientific events. Dr Raychaudhury has actively participated in various Science programmes on BBC Radio 4, including Stars in their Eyes.
The group's activities are coordinated by Dr Somak Raychaudhury (Group's Outreach Coordinator). We also very actively participate in the Outreach programme of the School of Physics and Astronomy, which is coordinated by Mrs Lynne Long (Schools Liaison officer).