Photon Physics

Public Engagement Activities

Photon Physics Group

The Photon Physics group are actively involved in a diverse range of public engagement activities, a few examples of which are shown here. For further information or to suggest a project that you would like us to become involved in please contact us.

Forthcoming events

Contact us to find out more about forthcoming events.

Frogs and Physics

‘Frogs and Physics’ is designed to give A-level students an introduction into how collaborative scientific research can aid wildlife conservation.  This event has run for a number of years now and has been a great success.  See entries in frogblogmanchester for details of previous events.  Students get a first-hand experience of working with a live animal collection with Manchester Museum’s Curator of Herpetology, Andrew Gray, and conduct scientific measurements using equipment in the Photon Science Institute with the University of Manchester’s Reader Dr. Mark Dickinson.

The next event will be advertised through the Manchester Museum website.  

Light for Life

The ‘light for life’ exhibit has now been held at various events including Jodrell Bank Live and Manchester Science Festival.

Visitors of the exhibit are able to measure the power consumption and spectra of filament and low energy light bulbs, split water to make hydrogen to power a model racing car, measure their blood oxygen levels and make quantum dots glow – but despite all this, the biggest fascination is typically reserved for the lovely patterns created via birefringence with a couple of polarisers and – yes –Sellotape! What is it with this School and Sellotape? However, we’re not expecting a Nobel prize for our efforts this time…….


SciBar, run by the British Science Association, is a bunch of people with a passing interest in science meeting once a month for an informal chat over a beer or wine in a pub.

Many members of the School regular lead discussions at SciBars, presenting their research and then opening up the floor for questions and debate.  They are run in Knutsford, Didsbury, Bollington, Macclesfield, Congleton, Wilmslow, Widnes and Chester, each with top researches and captivating discussion.

Previous topics have included:

Photovoltaics – Macclesfield SciBar – Dr Darren Graham

Can Solar Power meet our requirements for sustainable energy supply – Bolligton SciBar - Dr Darren Graham

NEW GRANT: 'Light for Life: Medicine in Pictures'

Andrew Thomas and Mark Dickinson, together with staff from Broadbent Fold Primary School in Dukinfield were awarded a Royal Society Partnership Grant of £1500 for 'Light for Life: Medicine in Pictures'.  The project involved working with the school children to show how physics, specifically light, can be used to diagnose and even cure disease.  The main part of the project involved the year 6 pupils using simple digital imaging and image analysis software to look at how skin colour of the fingers changed when blood flow was affected.  They looked at the effect of cold, warmth and exercise on the colour.  The rest of the key stage 2 pupils will learnt about lenses, waves, build pinhole cameras and learnt that X-rays are just a form of light and X-ray imaging is simply "measuring shadows".

The Royal Society liked this project so much that they awarded more money than was requested!  This will be used by the School to buy more microscopes.  

Sixth form lectures

The 6th form lecture series is a set of subject specific lectures that are used to enrich the A-level curriculum. These free lectures take place at schools and colleges; click here to find out more and book a lecture. The following lectures are given by academics within Photon Physics:

Dr Mark Dickinson - Blood, guts and lasers   

This lecture looks at lasers and others light sources, and the properties that make them useful in medical and biological applications. Following a brief explanation of the interactions, we will then cover specific examples, from cancer treatments to laser tweezers.

Dr Andrew Thomas - More magic than Harry Potter

This talk covers a range of topics in physics and chemistry including electromagnetism, cryogenics, pressure, energy from sunlight, lasers and energy production from combustion.

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