Enhancing public engagement, interest, understanding and awareness of physics through outreach

The University of Birmingham has developed and delivered a major public engagement programme in order to capture the imagination of schoolchildren and the wider public - increasing awareness and understanding of physics.

Five of the University’s leading scientists – Professor Cristina Lazzeroni, Professor Bill Chaplin, Professor Andreas Freise, Professor Kostas Nikolopoulos, and Dr Amaury Triaud – have been integral to the delivery of this work.

They have inspired and encouraged schoolchildren who might not otherwise have thought to study or pursue a career in physics, effecting positive changes in educational outcomes and opportunities. Their activities have targeted harder-to-reach groups, specifically younger children, those from deprived backgrounds, or those with cultural barriers.

They have also employed novel ways to reach, engage and inform public audiences in new settings, using gaming apps for mobile phones and co-producing works with artists – often changing the attitudes and thinking of the artists. Through the public engagement programme, they have had direct contact with 85,000 people, and have reached audiences of several millions through the media.

Together they have brought research to life – including how they have investigated the fundamental building blocks of nature through particle physics; opened a new window on the universe through research into gravitational wave astronomy, and illuminated the life cycles of stars and their planets.