Get ready for Harwell 2015 – Science Up Close



14 May 2015 – Did you know that some of the world’s best scientists and engineers work right on your doorstep?  And for the first time in a decade they will be opening their doors for the Harwell Open Day, Oxfordshire’s most exciting family science event, on Saturday 11 July.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is welcoming visitors to the Harwell campus, where  scientists and engineers work around the clock on cutting-edge research projects that are changing life in the 21st century. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to get inside the laboratories and experimental areas to see the science up close.

Entry to the campus, the research facilities and all activities are completely free of charge.

The Harwell campus is home to some of the world’s most amazing and powerful  science facilities such as the STFC Central Laser Facility and its VULCAN  laser, a beam so intense that it is like taking all of the sunlight shining on the Earth at any one moment and focussing it onto a pin head; the Diamond Light Source, the huge silver ring that works like a giant microscope and produces light 10 billion times brighter than the sun; RAL Space which designs, builds, and tests instruments that will be launched into space, including hi-definition cameras now on the International Space Station; and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source which is used for a huge variety of science, from designing new medicines to testing materials used in aircraft.

Dr Andrew Taylor, STFC’s Director of the National Laboratories, says, “This is a unique opportunity for people to explore behind the scenes in these fascinating facilities, which are not normally open for public viewing, and to see the latest developments at Harwell, a campus with a scientific heritage that goes all the way back to the 1940s which today is a rapidly growing centre for up-to-the-minute science.  Visitors will be able to meet some of the scientists and engineers who develop the pioneering technology that we now use every day – such as super computers and body scanners – and also get involved in some real hands-on science.”

As well as the chance to explore the facilities themselves, there will be many activities on offer for children and adults alike during the open day including:

  • Extracting DNA from strawberries
  • Rocket building and launching
  • Finding out how X-rays help us learn about dinosaurs
  • Witnessing an exploding mini volcano
  • Playing with a particle accelerator in a salad bowl
  • Programming mini robots to navigate around a map;
  • Becoming a synchrotron scientist with the help of a Lego beamline
  • Tracking down T-cells used to fight cancer
  • Exploring the tensile strength of biscuits

Visitors to the site will also be able to see some of the finds from Henry VIII’s ship the Mary Rose, take a ‘selfie’ with a gigantic cast of a Gorgosaurus dinosaur skeleton, and star in a Matrix-style ‘frozen time’ film sequence.

 “We want to inspire our younger visitors to consider a future in science and technology, and encourage some of them to take up engineering apprenticeships with STFC where they will get hands-on knowledge of the work we do, and learn the skills that are in demand right across the UK ,” says Dr Taylor. “I’ve been privileged to have a career in science, with all the challenges and excitement that has brought.  I’d love to see the next generation get a head start here at Harwell too”

Harwell Open Days begin with a special open day for around 1,600 school students on Wednesday 8 July and teachers can request places for this separate event through the registration page.

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