The School of Physics and Astronomy is very active in public engagement work, engaging with different audiences about its research, supporting school students and their teachers, and inspiring future physicists.
Many of the School's researchers and students get involved in running public engagement events. They are supported by Dr Simon Reynolds, the Ogden Public Engagement Officer for Physics and Astronomy. The Academic Lead for Public Engagement is Dr Anne-Marie Weijmans.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, the Schools has suspended all in-person outreach events. However, it is keen to support school pupils, their families and teachers with science learning at home. If you have any suggestions for how the School can help, get in touch with Simon Reynolds (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The School hosts various events to give everyone the chance to find out about the physics research going on in St Andrews. These include:
Science Discovery Day
This annual event was started by the School of Physics and Astronomy and has been running for over 10 years. In 2020, Science Discovery Day involved researchers from different departments across the University and attracted 3,000 visitors.
Observatory open nights
The University Observatory in St Andrews hosts open nights, offering everyone the chance to find out about the observatory and its telescopes, and to ask astronomers questions. There are also talks about research, craft activities for children, and (weather permitting) the chance to do some observing through the small telescopes.
Universities across Scotland run events during the annual Explorathon festival. In 2019, the University of St Andrews ran a variety of events including a special day of activities at Dundee Science Centre that featured many researchers and students from the School of Physics and Astronomy.
The School offers a range of activities and support for schools and teachers:
Researchers visiting schools
Many of the School's researchers and students have visited schools to give talks or run workshops.
The University of St Andrews' Mobile Planetarium can come to your school. It is run entirely by Astronomy PhD students who offer a variety of shows. The Planetarium goes out twice per month, so book early to avoid disappointment.
Mobile Planetarium website
Teacher Professional Learning (CPD)
School staff have offered a variety of different training to teachers. The Plates for Education project is running in 2020, offering training in astrophysics, a variety of classroom activities, and the chance to take away a metal plate from the Sloan Telescope in New Mexico to inspire your pupils.
Other public engagement
Staff from the School of Physics and Astronomy have also run a wide variety of other public engagement work:
Cell Block Science
The University of St Andrews' Cell Block Science project engages prisoners (and their families) with a programme of informal science learning. Physicists and astronomers are part of the group of researchers who have taken part in the project.
Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
Researchers from the School have exhibited their work at the Royal Society's prestigious Summer Science Exhibition, including in 2008 and 2019.
Public Engagement Officer
Since 2020, the Ogden Trust has co-funded a Public Engagement Officer in the School of Physics and Astronomy. Dr Simon Reynolds is running various events including a programme of physics activities for local secondary schools, as well as helping to develop a public engagement strategy.