Supporting learning at home
As a national laboratory, NPL recognises not only the importance of promoting STEM activities and inspiring the next generation, but also the requirement to educate on the vital role metrology (the science of measurement) plays in our everyday lives. Measurement at Home is NPL’s new online STEM initiative, which was launched in May 2020.
Measurement at Home aims to get everyone, particularly school children, engaged and interested in science, technology, engineering and maths and create a measurement community that virtually brings science into households nationally and globally. There are regular challenges posted on the website, and the new, wider ‘measurement community’ are encouraged to send in results and share pictures of their tests using the hashtag #MeasurementAtHome. In the first three days, more than 70 people submitted results, having measured the strength of breakfast cereal on homemade test apparatus.
NPL’s annual Water Rocket Challenge became the Space Rocket Challenges and was delivered online, in partnership with the UK Space Agency. Widely shared on social media and mentioned by Tim Peake in his podcast, these challenges had a great response including over 60 designs for rockets, one with 49 pages of details.
The Virtual Physics Laboratory (VPLab) simulation software has proved very popular through lock down. Webinar demonstrations to groups of teachers were made and there were 450 downloads of the full resource. Over 18,000 simulation downloads were made by students to use at home, this facility was not available prior to lockdown and has been very successful. The rate of new users is four times higher than before COVID-19, more than new six users per day, with the total number well over 6000.
Presentations and other outreach activities continued remotely to schools, the Association of Science Educators and other groups. Staff judged several ‘Young Enterprise’ competitions, appeared in Physics World and volunteered for ‘I'm a scientist get me out of here’.