Pop-Sci @ The Forum and The Beacon

It’s been a busy half-term for Think Physics; we were welcomed back to The Beacon in North Shields and The Forum in Wallsend for more science pop-up shop fun.

Families of children from local schools were invited to join us for a day of science based activities: we were swamped! Big thanks for coming along. We handled meteorites, took infrared selfies, made a lot of funny noises, investigated UV light, explored the pinwheel galaxy, designed planets, and made a gigantic marble run (…and that was all before lunch!)

Families were also take on a tour of the universe in our Explore Your Universe show. The whole thing was captured by our Think Physics Twitter Photo Booth. And also by our rather less exciting human photographer – gallery below.

Stay tuned for news of our next sci-pop pop-up shop. You could even sign up for our newsletter.


Half term with Think Physics

At a loose end over half term? We’ve got you covered.

Think Physics is out and about around Newcastle for three days during the week:

Keep up-to-date with public events around the region from ourselves and others with our events calendar. We’re posting new stuff there all the time.

Upcoming Events!

Be sure to check out our nifty new Upcoming Events calendar, handily linked from the main menu of every page across the site. We’ll be filling it with a range of stuff we’re doing but also events from project partners, or that we think you might find interesting.

For example, this Wednesday the North-East branch of the Institute of Physics are hosting a free lecture on computer visualisation in archaeology, then next week our very own lecture series Physics Matters! kicks off. There are five events, all free to attend, and if you come to all of them you’ll be eligible for a coach trip to the Kielder Observatory for an evening of stargazing.

We’ll keep the calendar up-to-date, so keep checking back – and book your tickets for Physics Matters!

North-East Skills 2015

We’ve been to Mars.

Not literally. We’d be the radiation-fried husks of the team formerly known as ‘Think Physics’ if we’d tried, not to mention somewhat over-budget. No, this week we took a model of Mars to the North-East Skills event. Here’s what our stand looked like, and some of the things visitors did with us:

Our intrepid explorers tested their rover-wrangling skills and strained their talent for communication to the limit as they guided their robotic rovers across our simulated Martian surface. Which all looked a bit Blue Peter, we admit, but what we were doing was surprisingly close to what real Mars rover teams do. The Curiosity rover that’s currently driving around Mars is picking up significant wheel damage, and to understand what’s going on the NASA and JPL team have been driving a test rover around a ‘Mars Yard’ – literally a back yard decked out to look like Mars. Here’s a terrific article about the wheel damage, and the Jet Propulsion Lab’s Amanda Steffy walks through the engineering challenge in this film:

It’s not just the Americans who are building Mars rovers. Here in the UK, Airbus are building the rover component of the European Exomars mission. Here’s Abby Hutty of Airbus talking about her role in the project:

…and some more background about the science that the rover will be doing, including more clips of the Mars surface simulation just outside London:

So our simulation wasn’t too far off the mark, for a five-minute activity. We were also handing people fragments of meteorites, and talking to them about the skills and attributes they might use in a STEM career. We had hundreds of terrific conversations – big thanks to everyone who turned up the stand, it was a delight to meet you all.

For those of you who missed out, here’s our Mars Mission Flier (PDF, 1.2Mb).

Huge fun, and we’ll hope to see you again next year.

Yellow Giant Exhibition

Yellow Giant is an exhibition by Helen Schell.  Inspired by the Sun and Space, Helen uses optical illusions to express phenomena of space.

In creating the artwork for this exhibition, Helen has worked with solar physicists, Dr Gert Botha, Dr Stephane Regnier from Northumbria University, and Dr Helen Mason from Cambridge University.

The exhibition is open from 10 September – 3 October 2015,

Gallery Opening times Wed – Sat,  12-5pm.

The exhibition is being held at Vane Gallery, First Floor Commercial House, 39 Pilgrim St, Newcastle

Events for adults and families.

Saturday 12 September 2-4pm
Beyond Yellow

Presentations and discussions with Dr Gert Botha and Dr Stephane Regnier (Northumbria University Solar Group), Helen Schell, Richard Talbot (Head of Fine Art, Newcastle University), Dr Helen Mason (Sun|trek, Cambridge University) and Dr Carol Davenport (Think Physics, Northumbria University)

Saturday, 3 October 2-4pm
Our Dynamic Sun

Solar physics for families: presentation with Dr Helen Mason and family workshop with Helen Schell


These events are free, but please book a place by contacting the gallery at
info@vane.org.uk or telephone 0191 261 8281




IOP talk: Formation of Extrasolar Planets

Dr. Ken Rice from the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Astronomy will be here at Northumbria University on 18th June, speaking on the formation of extrasolar planets. To date we’ve confirmed the existence of almost 2,000 planets beyond our solar system – come and discover how they formed and evolved in this Institute of Physics-organised lecture.

The event will take place in room A003 in the Ellison Building, 7–8pm. All welcome.

For more information, the IOP have a glossy flier (PDF, 1Mb), and a Facebook page.

CPD Opportunities in February: KS3/4 Light and Colour, Isaac Physics

We’ve two terrific CPD opportunities coming up late this month, both to be held in our shiny new Think Lab facility at Northumbria University:

Lights, Camera, Images

26th February, 16:30–18:00
This twilight workshop is aimed at those teaching physics at Key Stages 3 and 4: it’s suitable for non-specialists. We’ll investigate a variety of activities for use in the classroom when teaching light, colour and spectra.

Presented in association with the Institute of Physics.

Light refreshments will be provided on arrival.

To book, please contact Think Physics via Annie Padwick, annie.padwick@northumbria.ac.uk.

Isaac Physics Day

28th February, 09:00–15:00
This one-day workshop is aimed at A-level Physics teachers and A-level Maths(mechanics units) teachers, or those intending to teach these subjects.

Delivered in association with Isaac Physics, the workshop will support teachers to develop mathematical problem-solving in a physics context. It will also help teachers prepare their students for physics, engineering and maths courses at University.

Refreshments will be provided through out the day.

For further information or to book a place, please contact events@isaacphysics.org.

Isaac Physics Day – brochure.
(PDF, 600Kb).

Please do drop Annie a line if you’ve any further questions, and feel free to pass this information on to anyone else you think might be interested.

We’ve information about how to contact Think Physics, and how to find Think Lab.