During February half-term students from the Physical Sciences for Health (Sci-Phy) CDT at the University of Birmingham made their annual visit to the Thinktank Science Museum Birmingham for the ‘Meet The Expert’ event. This year 25 PhD students from the centre attended over two days to run a variety of activities for enquiring young minds.

all students

The students split into three groups before the event to develop activities in the areas of materials; light and colour; and microscopy, which they ran on stands spread throughout the museum.

At the materials stand visitors were able to take part in the ever-popular density towers activity – discovering how liquids of different densities can be ‘stacked’ on one another, and even solids such as small nuts and bolts made to float in the middle of certain layers, to produce colourful displays of this material property. 


The microscopy team allowed visitors to look into the micro-world, with a USB microscope projecting onto a large screen for visitors to explore a variety of samples, and a demonstration of the “laser-droplet” microscope to investigate what lives in Birmingham’s canal water! The team also developed a fun, testing game for young and old alike, with pictures of bone at varying magnification (down to the nanometre scale) which players were challenged to order from smallest to largest.

The optics team had a number of hands-on activities for visitors to try out, all demonstrating various aspects of the relationship between light and colour. Visitors learned about the spectrum of light using colour wheels and a fan, read secret messages using UV light, and used thin films of nail polish to decorate name tags with rainbow colours.


Dr Hamid Dehghani from the School of Computer Science, who helped to lead the event, said; “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase some of our work, specifically concerned with our EPSRC funded Doctoral Training Centres. We have a varied cohort of students who very much enjoy interaction with the public through a number of varied activities. We all thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to interact with young scientists and teach them about our work through actively taking part in demonstrations.”