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A Slice of Science 2020

Kat and Alex gave a lecture on ‘How To Freeze A Human’ at this year’s Slice of Science event at the University of Warwick. The event aimed to encourage girls aged 5-13 to pursue STEM subjects whilst showcasing science from female researchers at the University. Kat used giant beakers, dry ice, frozen bananas and elephant’s toothpaste to demonstrate what cryogens are, why we need them and how they work.
Photo credit: Cerys Currie

Christmas Lectures

Alex Baker: Naughty or Nice Chemistry - Warwick Christmas Lectures 2019, for over 1000 primary school children

This lecture looked at what makes certain chemicals "naughty" or "nice" using lots of demonstrations and audience participation.


Pint of Science

A demonstration of "Alginate Jelly Worms - super-fast polymers synthesis" used at Pint of Science 2019


Many members of the Gibson group volunteer their free time with various programmes such as the RSC Schools Outreach Programme run by Nick Barker in the Department of Chemistry, The Brilliant Club and Realising Opportunities. These schemes help greatly in promoting Chemistry and the sciences for both Primary and Secondary School Students. Please see below for more detail.

The Brilliant Club Tutoring
The RSC Schools Outreach Programme
The Birmingham Thinktank Museum
Spectroscopy in a Suitcase
Realising Opportunities Tutoring
Festivals of Science Volunteering
ThinkScience A-Level Conference


"A huge thank you to you and your generous post-grads for the extraordinary opportunity you give them to experience chemistry in a university context. My son came on the trip yesterday for the second time - last year he made aspirin and this year he and his partner successfully extracted the caffeine from 6 teabags. When we picked him up he could not stop talking about the experience and his levels of enthusiasm were sky-high (without even ingesting any of the extracted caffeine). He is now seriously considering Chem Eng as a first degree. You have seduced him away from his beloved Mathematics!"

- Mother of a student from Malvern College, 24th March 2014

"Really inspired me to go into Chemistry."
"Excellent, very interesting topic, good level and well-presented."
"Very well pitched and at an easily understandable level, (Matt Gibson) gave a good overview of research at Warwick." (Teacher comment)

- Comments made by students (and teacher) attending ThinkScience A-Level Conference, University of Warwick, 1st July 2015

The Brilliant Club and Realising Opportunities Tutoring Programmes

Lucienne and Caroline work as tutors for both the Brilliant Club and the Realising Opportunites brilliantScheme where they aim to widen access to highly selective and research-intensive universities, address educational disadvantage and encourage further study of science subjects. In June-October 2014 and 2015, they gave a series of tutorials based on aspects of their own research, delivering them to year 12 pupils in Birmingham and Stoke schools.

In February-May 2015, Caroline and Lucienne were also involved in the Brilliant Club's collaboration with Unitracks. This involved the development of a series of e-tutorials based on aspects of their own research, delivered to inaccessible year 12 pupils in rural Cumbria and London schools.


In addition to their work with the Brilliant Club, Caroline and Lucienne worked with Realising Opportunities Tutoring in June-August 2014, assisting local year 12 pupils to complete an essay on a subject of their choice. This is an essential skill to massively improve their access to higher education.

"I teach university-style tutorials on the topic of evolution to Key Stage 3, and tutorials on my thesis topic to Key Stage 4 and 5 students in low participation secondary schools - to encourage them to go on to top Universities. As an advanced skills tutor, I designed a course based around my research which I then teach in schools. I produce and mark everything, including session plans, activities, presentations and the final assignment."

- Lucienne Otten, who in addition to working towards her Ph.D. is also an Advanced Skills Tutor for the Brilliant Club.

"A group of students from the Moorlands Sixth Form College was privileged to be involved in The Brilliant Club.... Over the course of several seminars the students worked with a post-graduate student on a dissertation on either Humanities or STEM, and at the end had to submit this essay to the Brilliant Club for degree-style marking.

The students thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found the assistance of the post-graduate student very useful when preparing their essays. It gave them the chance to produce work at first-year degree level, which has been vital in preparing them for university and the standard of work and the skills needed for degree level study to be produced."

- Moorlands Sixth Form School Press Release following Caroline's series of tutorials, October 2014.

The RSC Spectroscopy in a Suitcase Programme

Ben Martyn and Chris Stubbs both work as lead co-ordinators for the RSC Spectroscopy in a Suitcase programme, while Ben Graham also works as an assistant to deliver the programme. This programme gives AS and A-Level students the opportunity to get hands-on experience using a portable InfraRed Spectrometer at their own schools. The aim of the programme is to allow the students to perform real analytical chemistry, delivered by researchers who use the technique in their own work. It also allows the students to practice problem-solving and chemical reasoning skills that will be required for their exams and gives them an opportunity to discuss careers with experienced researchers.

Ben M and Chris have been involved with around 20 visits to 15 local schools within the West Midlands, while Ben G has recently joined the programme for 2 visits (2016).

"I just wanted to say thanks again to you and your colleagues for a great day on Tuesday - I've had loads of positive feedback from the students - they really enjoyed it!"

Dr. H Bush

St Thomas More Catholic School & Sixth Form College

The RSC Schools Outreach Programme

The University of Warwick is fortunate to host a multitude of outreach opportunities for local primary and secondary school pupils, coordinated by Nicholas Barker of the Department of Chemistry.


In September 2015, Ben Martyn worked with a group of AS-level students performing an undergraduate-level experiment in the undergraduate teaching labs. This also gave the students a chance to discuss university options and choices with a current student. He also helped 45 Year 5 students from Courthouse Green to perform 3 basic experiments in the labs.

"Nick Barker and I traveled to Aldermans Green Primary School in Coventry to give a talk and demonstration to years Five and Six. I gave a presentation on "Why I am a scientist" before helping Nick to showcase how science can be equally exciting and relevant to our everyday lives. Afterwards, we had a Q and A with the pupils, from which we got some very insightful questions! This was part of a wider outreach scheme organised by Nick for multiple schools throughout the area, which I have been involved in by demonstrating "hands-on" experiments to pupils from both primary and secondary schools. Being involved in this way is a highly rewarding experience and pretty unique for the pupils involved: how many primary school children get to work in a university lab!"

- Benjamin Martyn, 2015

In February 2014, Ben visited Aldermans Green Primary School with Nick Barker to give an assembly to years 5 and 6 about being a scientist and demonstrated some exciting chemistry experiments. He has also previously (October 2013) worked on a simple undergraduate-level experiment with GCSE students.


Lucienne and Dan with All Souls Primary School, 26th June 2014


"Ben Martyn, Richard Lowery and I assisted in demonstrating to 60 pupils aged 9 and 10 several “hands-on” experiments in the Department of Chemistry teaching laboratories. This was part of a wider programme co-ordinated by Nicholas Barker to engage and excite approximately 150 pupils over a 3 day period from the Thornton Junior School, Ward End, Birmingham. A thoroughly rewarding and delightful experience for all concerned!"

- Dr. Rob Deller, 9th April 2014

"I would like to say thank you (Gibson Group Members) for the work you did yesterday with the sixth formers from Foxford School. The school faces some great challenges at present which makes it all the more wonderful and important that they could visit and spend time working with you."

- Nick Barker, RSC Schools Outreach Coordinator

A Festival of Sciencematthew_gibson_2.jpg

Dr. Matt Gibson is an active STEM Ambassador, working with young people to encourage engagement in the sciences. In 2015, he spoke at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival. This talk was to highlight the importance of freezing (cryopreservation) for a huge range of medical, and other, applications, entitled "How to Freeze a Human".

science_splat.jpgAt the British Science Festival in Birmingham on 16th September 2010, Matt Gibson, along with Dr. Alex Robinson of the University of Birmingham, gave a 2-hour public lecture on the topic of Advanced Materials. This was part of a series of presentations given by members of the Science City Research Alliance Fellows: "From Nanomedicine to Jet Engines: What have advanced Materials ever done for you?" This lecture covered topics as broad-ranging as nanoscience to novel battery technology.

ThinkScience A-Level Conference

Matt Gibson spoke on extremophiles to A-Level students from the local area attending a 1-day science conference at the University of Warwick. This conference was coordinated by the University's Chemistry Society, ChemSoc, to encourage sixth formers' participation in science.

"Really inspired me to go into Chemistry."
"Excellent, very interesting topic, good level and well-presented."
"Very well pitched and at an easily understandable level, (Matt Gibson) gave a good overview of research at Warwick." (Teacher comment)

- Comments made by students (and teacher) attending ThinkScience A-Level Conference, University of Warwick, 1st July 2015

The Birmingham Thinktank Museum

The Birmingham Thinktank Museum is an award-winning science museum, offering a whole host of hands-on displays on science and technology.for_web_g.jpg
In June 2011, a team from the School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham was joined by various students from Warwick to create a "walk-in cell" at Thinktank. This was part of the Meet the Scientist event held at the museum.

Sarah-Jane Richards at the Birmingham Thinktank, June 2011.