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Press Release - 27 March 2006

Students show schoolchildren that physics can be fun

Two University Physics students have been busy building schoolchildren’s enthusiasm for science.

Charlotte Palmer, a third-year undergraduate, took part in the Flying Start challenge run by several engineering firms, in which pupils are set the task of building gliders for less than £15. The challenge is to see whose glider will fly further and for longer.

Regional “fly-offs” were held recently in Bristol and one of teams that Charlotte was advising, from Mangotsfield, won the heats. The final, in Yeovilton, will be held shortly.

Charlotte also recently sat as a judge on a LegoRobotics competition held at the University for local schoolchildren to design the best robots and develop their interest in science.

“I have to say I think I enjoyed it as much as the children," said Charlotte. “My judging partner and I were robot design judges, which involved watching the teams’ robots attempting the ‘Ocean Odyssey Challenge Mat’ and asking them a few questions on their design and programming.

“It was great to see the children so enthusiastic about their robots, and trying very hard to win one of the giant Lego trophies.”

Charlotte is currently on a year’s placement at the engineering firm MBDA in Bristol.

Melanie Baylie is working as a science and engineering ambassador to children at schools near Chilton, Oxfordshire. She is on placement there at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in its Particle Physics Department.

She will develop local pupils’ interest in science by helping them find the speed of light using marshmallows in a microwave, making ice-cream using liquid hydrogen and launching mini space rockets.

Melanie’s research, into the sub-atomic muon particle, was recently selected to be presented to MPs at the House of Commons.

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