Science Festival Report
On March 18th students from the Imperial, Cambridge, and Open (ICO) centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy cohort had the opportunity to exhibit at Cambridge Science Festival. The theme for this year’s festival was ‘Getting Personal’, and we were to relate our PhD research and the broader topic of nuclear energy to an exhibit in which the public could relate to the idea of how their electricity is generated and why our research is important for the continuation and improvement of nuclear power production.
Planning began in the previous October and took place over the months ahead of the festival, with our many ideas being discussed, and eventually we chose to have a range of sections within the exhibit in order to appeal to the expected broad range of visitors including a couple which were interactive.
Our exhibit included a timeline of nuclear energy development in the UK from initial research in the 1950’s to the current situation and future plans, a cloud chamber to show radiation that occurs naturally within our environment, a table of everyday household objects including a smoke detector and bananas along with a Geiger counter to measure radiation from these objects, a real-time energy map showing current energy sources and emissions from across Europe, a model spacecraft engine which employs a source of plutonium to produce energy and show an alternative application for fission, and a waste corner with information about nuclear waste and how it is dealt with.
On the day we had a range of visitors from researchers at Cambridge University to families with young children. All volunteers interacted with the visitors to show them around the exhibit, and ask questions about their opinions on energy production and nuclear to get them involved in the conversation and us talking about our research. The day went as planned and we all enjoyed the experience, in spite of some last minute running around! Many thanks to Claire Armstrong and Ian Farnan with the organisation, and to all those who helped at the exhibit on the day.
Kathryn Yates, ICO CDT Nuclear PhD Student