University of Leicester physics competition sees entrants use poetry, music and dance to communicate scientific principles and research

Posted by ap507 at Nov 24, 2014 12:28 PM |
3-Minute Wonder competition challenges young physicists to make their work more accessible

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 24 November 2014

  • The event was organised by the University of Leicester and the Institute of Physics
  • Graduate and sixth form physicists had three minutes to pitch their research/theme to judges
  • They were scored out of 10 on communication, inventiveness and accuracy
  • A cash prize of £250 was up for grabs for each category winner

Cutting vehicle pollution, solar storms and a poem about the fabled Higgs boson were just three of the themes presented by physicists at a science competition held at the University of Leicester on Thursday 20 November.

Organised in partnership with the Institute of Physics (IOP), PhD graduates and sixth formers were invited to present their work to a panel of judges in an event called 3-Minute Wonder.

The brief was to communicate their chosen topic, or field of research, in a clear and concise way – and in no more than three minutes - with the winner receiving £250.

The entrants, who came from Leicestershire, Loughborough and Nottingham, found a number of alternative and engaging ways to get their ideas across.

24-year-old University of Leicester PhD physics student Maria-Theresia Walach, who was awarded joint-first place among graduates working in their chosen field, analysed the Sun's activity to understand the impact that solar storms have on the Earth's magnetic field.

She said: “It was really exciting to take part, because the atmosphere is so supportive, even though it's a competition.

“It was a good exercise for me, because I generally talk too much and I could spend hours talking about my research!

“I didn't expect to win, especially when I saw the competition, so that was a really nice surprise to top off a really fun evening.”

Dr Darren Wright from the Leicester Physics Centre at the University of Leicester said: “The aim of the Leicester Physics Centre and the East Midlands Branch of the Institute of Physics is to promote science. I believe that it is particularly important to engage young people – in this case A-level students and early career researchers – and to show them how important science communication is. Not only is science fascinating but it is of great societal importance. We hope to encourage the future leaders in physics.”

David Wilkinson, IOP Regional Officer for the Midlands, said: “It is important that today’s physicists are able to communicate their ideas effectively. All of them have to do this to other scientists but the 3-Minute Wonder competition was created specifically to encourage them to bring their work to the public at large.

“I also think it’s great that the competition here in the East Midlands was organised and run entirely by volunteer members of the IOP. It all goes to show that we physicists have a passion for our subject and we want to share it with everyone else.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information contact Dr Darren Wright: dmw7@ion.le.ac.uk

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