Kent physicists inspire the ‘magnificent’ materials scientists of the future

School children taking part in a science experiment

A collaboration with Ramsgate-based Discovery Planet has seen Kent scientists deliver interactive workshops to engage school children with the science that is providing solutions for tomorrow’s world. 

Earlier this month, Dr Gunnar Möller from the School of Physics and Astronomy and STEM Outreach Officer, Megan Bell, embraced the challenge of presenting the fundamentals of materials science in high-energy ‘Magnificent Materials’ workshops for school children.  

The first of these took place in a former shop unit on Ramsgate High Street, which was converted into a vibrant and accessible community learning space by grassroots organisation, Discovery Planet C.I.C, through a project run in partnership with the University of Kent. The second was hosted on the University’s Canterbury campus. 

Materials science, which draws on the fundamental principles of chemistry, physics and engineering, holds the key to solving many of the problems that society faces today, including sustainable energy production and the development of new medicine, transportation and computing technologies. 

The Royal Society-funded workshops engaged school students with these principles through a range of activities which saw them smash cucumbers and bunches of flowers, watch trains levitate and experience what it feels like to have your head in the clouds.  

Dr Möller, a Royal Society University Research Fellow, said of the workshop which took place on the Canterbury campus: ‘The session was really great. The students were extremely switched on and bombarded us with tons of questions over the course of two hours.’ 

Xanthe Pitt, Director and Creative Producer at Discovery Planet said: ‘The feedback from students, pupils and parents was fantastic because Gunnar and his team from the University of Kent had really thought through how to communicate the science in a compelling way, and pulled out the stops to give us a day to remember. Most importantly participants got to understand not only how much fun science is, but how materials science is applied to the world around us.’ 

Photo credit: Jaron James –