This report on a recent trip to Bristol was contributed by 3rd-year DTC student Harriet Manning.
Following our successful public engagement activities at the Bristopia event at At-Bristol science centre, on Tuesday 4 February 2014 cohort 3 were invited back to exhibit our research at the public lecture on climate change by Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Sir Mark Walport.
Five members of our cohort put together an interactive exhibit to showcase our research before and after the public lecture, which we were also able to attend. The talk was entitled ‘The Planet in Our Hands – Responding to Climate Change’ and Sir Mark Walport gave the latest information on climate change and highlighted ways in which the public and the government, together, can act to minimise future damage to the environment. The talk sparked a lively debate, which was chaired by Professor Alice Roberts.
This high-profile event was a perfect opportunity to engage with a varied audience of 350 people ranging from senior school groups to families and local scientists.
The activities we planned were all interactive demonstrations of some of our research in sustainable chemical technologies. Our ‘build your own battery’ experiment proved very popular with people of all ages – the challenge to create the battery with the highest power output using different materials adding an element of competition, which people took very seriously!
Our model molecular sieve initiated some very interesting discussions about the potentials of highly porous materials such as activated carbons and metal-organic frameworks and how they could be used for hydrogen storage and in carbon capture and storage. We also had a model hydrogen car, which tied in well with the theme of climate change and this event was also a good opportunity to showcase some of the outputs of our collaboration with design students at Bath Spa University, such as the chemistry stencils they produced.
The event was a fantastic chance to talk with some local people who were very keen to hear what researchers are doing at the moment to tackle some of the climate and energy problems we are facing. It also gave us a chance to strengthen our ties with the brilliant At-Bristol centre and we hope to carry on our public engagement activities there in the future!