ASP Badgers and Particles

20 May 2019

Community science has been a key feature of ASP activities recently, with two of our flagship projects in action at Dunmore Primary School and at Abingdon County Hall Museum.

Science Ambassadors Freddie Nicholson and Rory Mitchell took a short, but welcome, break from GCSE revision to get outside and help our Royal Society Partnership Grant research partner, Tanesha Allen, set up her latest badger behaviour experiment at Dunmore Primary.

Dunmore's Eco-Warriors Club have already identified an area within their forest school where badgers, muntjac deer and foxes have all been seen. Tanesha, Freddie and Rory set up a dedicated camera trap and a foraging pit to test the frequency of badger visits before the behaviour experiments take place after half term. 

The second community project took place at Abingdon County Hall Museum where the manager, Dan Sancisi, invited ASP to contribute to the monthly series of Saturday activity days. This was a great opportunity for the members of our Physics Factor research club to deploy their Timepix particle detector in an unusual location and to test natural radiation levels at various points inside and outside the building.

The Timepix detector is on loan from Oxford University's Physics Department, who also occupied a stall in the Museum for the day, running a cloud chamber and the LEGO universe activity to engage visitors in the fascination of particle physics.

It was great to see the Oxford physicists using the ATLAScraft Minecraft game as part of their display as this was another successful ASP project involving collaboration between scientists and pupils at Abingdon, Fitzharrys and Didcot Girls' Schools. 

Museum staff were delighted with the success of the 'Particle Physics at the Museum' day with visitor numbers doubling compared to a normal Saturday. Members of the Physics Factor club, such as boarders Peter Wan and Aryann Gupta, will now be analysing the results of the experiments they conducted around the Museum, from roof level down to the cellar.

ASP is very grateful to the Physics Department at St Helen and St Katherine School for use of a second Timepix detector which they currently have on loan from the Institute for Research in Schools, one of our key, national partners in bringing real research projects into local schools.

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