9 October 2018

Each year the Ogden Trust's Abingdon Primary Science Partnership participates in the ATOM Festival of Science and Technology by holding a science fair.

In preparation for ATOM 2019 next March, the teams from each primary school attended an inspiration day workshop co-ordinated by the Abingdon Science Partnership and hosted by the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford.

The theme for 2019 is 'To the Moon and Beyond' commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing and encouraging the pupils to develop ideas of their own for the next generation of space exploration missions.

The 48 pupils from eight local primary schools enjoyed a presentation by Dr Neil Bowles, one of Oxford Physics's leading experts on planetary science missions. During the interactive lecture, Dr Bowles explained how scientists test and prove hypotheses by using the question of whether the Moon is made of cheese as an example. Demonstrating the different thermal properties of cheese and rock he concluded, disappointingly, that it probably isn't!

The pupils then undertook a series of different, hands on activities with expert planetary scientists and astrophysicists from the university, a meteorite expert from the Oxford Museum of Natural History and the ASP's own planetary enthusiast, co-ordinator Jeremy Thomas.

This was a fantastic opportunity for local, primary children to experience university level research and learning at first hand and, judging by the chatter on the coach, everyone found it an exciting and inspiring experience. We are very grateful to Dr Sian Tedaldi and her colleagues in the Physics Department for the time and energy they put in to running the event and look forward to similar collaborations in the future.

We are also looking forward to the outcome of the workshop in the exhibits the primary pupils will display at ATOM 2019, both at the Primary Science Fair and at the Family Science Fair on Sunday 24 March in the Yang Science Centre.

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