PSI assists materials science outreach at New Scientist Live

For three days in March 2022, New Scientist Live (NSL) transformed Manchester Central Convention Centre into a mind-blowing festival of ideas and discoveries for everyone passionate about science and why it matters.  

Attendance for NSL events now exceeds 40,000 with visitors ranging from school children to families, academics, industry and the media.  

Together, the Photon Science Institute (PSI), Henry Royce Institute and Discover Materials delivered a huge outreach and public engagement presence at the event, creating a thrilling atmosphere and energy at their stand for visitors to learn about research and innovation in materials science.  

Packed with thought-provoking activities, interactive experiments and workshops on the theme of materials and light, the expansive Royce x Discover Materials exhibition space was manned by ambassadors from across the Royce partners, as well as the PSI.  

Activities at the event were split across the three stations to demonstrate how different light forms interact with materials.  

On the infrared light stand, ambassadors delivered workshops using thermal imaging cameras to show how materials can insulate and store heat differently.

New Scientist Live - Infrared light

The visible light stand hosted a light microscopy workshop, where attendees could take a look at the qualities of different materials. The workshops demonstrated the science behind technologies used to produce images with RGB colour, and demonstrated the impact materials research continues to have in producing new technologies in this field.

New Scientist Live - Visible light

The stand for ultraviolet light featured an informative workshop on how different materials can protect against UV rays, using UV torches and a wide range of substrates to demonstrate changes in light waves.

New Scientist Live - Ultraviolet light

Additional activities and experiments included slime making, a laser maze, an atomic ball-pool and badge making to engage younger attendees and showcase the range of disciplines that materials science covers. 

Ambassadors were on-hand to deliver advice around careers and education pathways in materials science to students, and to showcase the impact of advanced materials research and innovation delivered through Royce and its partners to industry and academic visitors. 

PSI postgraduate research student Xinyun Liu, who was volunteering at the event, said: "It was great to see people of all ages really engaging with the demonstrations we had and getting excited about science." 

The event also hosted 60-plus talks with the spotlight on materials in the presentations 'Engineering at the Nano Scale' and 'One Atom Thin Materials and Minute Voids' by Professor Radha Boya, Chair in Nanoscience at The University of Manchester, and 'Science and Storytelling' by Dr Jess Wade, Research Fellow at Imperial College and Roma Agrawal, Structural Engineer and Author.

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