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ACCIS CDT Public Engagement Project visits Primary School

11 July 2016

Successful ACCIS/CDT public engagement project teaches schoolchildren the science of light.

Last month Steven Rae, ACCIS Research Associate and ACCIS Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) student, visited Kirkton Primary School in Carluke, South Lanarkshire to run an outreach project exploring the science of light.

The idea behind the project which was funded by ACCIS CDT, is to get young people interested in science generally with a special focus on aerospace and the properties and strengths of materials.

Using a pre-prepared learning kit funded by the ACCIS CDT Public Engagement Committee, pupils aged nine to ten years were given a hands-on opportunity to examine the spectrum of colours in white light, using prisms. Next they positioned LED lights within a mirror maze to explore the behaviours of reflection and investigated additive colours and polarised light using blue, green and red light sources and coloured film. However, the most popular exercise of the day was writing and uncovering secret hidden messages with UV lights.

The children’s enthusiastic team discussions and results were captured in specially prepared workbooks and all content fell neatly into the school curriculum.
“I had initially been worried that the exercises might be over their heads, but they were enjoying it so much that they didn’t want to move on to the next task,” Steven said.

“Their recap showed clearly how much information they'd absorbed and by the end of the day, all the children had decided that they wanted to grow up to be engineers!”

The public engagement project was a great success and it is hoped that it can be repeated in local primary schools and adapted for secondary schools.

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