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STEM@Leeds Team

Educational Engagement
University of Leeds
18 Blenheim Terrace

0113 343 7495

50 Years of Plate Tectonics with Dr Sue Bowler

1967 and 1968 saw the publication of the first papers that explained the movement of rigid plates over the surface of the Earth. The plate tectonics revolution owed much to advances in data collection over the preceding decade and this data-led approach has transformed geophysics. Using the career and on-line archive of Dan McKenzie, the author of one of those first papers, I will examine how the ideas came together in the mid-1960s and how the concepts have evolved in the past half-century, shedding light on fundamental processes within the Earth, but also providing insights into the mitigation of natural hazards and the oil and gas industry.


Free tea, coffee and biscuits from 6:30pm

Experiment in a Box Teachers Event

Come and find out more about the Experiment in a Box project, launched by the University of Leeds in 2017 and funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Try your hand at some of the experiments and gather ideas for new ones to take back to the classroom. We hope you enjoy it as much as the children!

This session is aimed primarily at KS2 teachers (KS1 and 3 are also welcome!)

Refreshments provided. Free of charge but places must be booked in advance using the form found at http://www.stem.leeds.ac.uk/chemistry/experiment-in-a-box.

Food Science Taster Day

Would you like to explore the role of science in our understanding of food and nutrition? Would you like to experience life as a university student for the day? You can do just that during this hands-on taster day!

The programme will include a mini lecture, spectroscopy practical, taste testing and the opportunity to meet and speak to current staff and students in the School of Food Science and Nutrition.

Open to individual students from year 10, 11 or 12 with teacher and parental permission and to small school groups of up to 6 students. Free of charge to attend and lunch is provided.

For queries or more information please contact Louise Crabtree l.crabtree@leeds.ac.uk

Solar Geometry to Date Certain Art Works of Monet and Constable

Free IOP talk

Prof John Thornes, from the University of Birmingham

Free tea, coffee and biscuits from 6:30pm.

To what extent can we use works of landscape art as proxy data for what the environment was actually like at the time of painting? Artists like Monet and Constable can be trusted if care is taken to understand what the artist was trying to achieve. Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows was first exhibited in 1831 at the Royal Academy by John Constable. The depicted rainbow is totally out of place considering the solar geometry of the scene. Art historians have suggested that perhaps the rainbow was added just before the painting was exhibited – to symbolise hope, as the storm threatening the Cathedral, and by implication the Church of England, was nearly over. However solar geometry tells a different story. The depicted rainbow rests on John Fisher’s house – the house of his best friend where Constable had often stayed. Careful examination of the rainbow shows that it represents a full rainbow which would have been possible on the afternoon of the 25th August 1832 the day when John Fisher unexpectedly died. It is now clear that when the painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1831 it did not contain a rainbow. Indeed none of the many critics describing the picture mention a rainbow. Constable therefore added the rainbow sometime after his best friend had died as a remarkable tribute to him. It is impossible to know exactly when Constable added the rainbow but it is likely to be early in 1834 before he exhibited the painting in Birmingham in September 1834. In July 1834 he wrote to a friend: I have done wonders with my great Salisbury – I have been preparing it for [exhibition in] Birmingham, and I am sure I have much increased its power and effect – and I have no doubt of this picture being my best now…. The reviewer of the painting in The Birmingham Advertiser (November 20th 1834) wrote: Aiming at some striking effect of a summer storm, the artist…has rashly ventured, …ever too ethereal for mortal pencil – a rainbow; which looks as if it were built there, and must there ever remain. This is the first mention of a rainbow in relation to this picture and it obviously made an impression and certainly supports the theory that it had just been added to the picture. Constable believed that ‘painting is a science, and should be pursued as an enquiry into the laws of nature. Why then may not landscape painting be considered as a branch of natural philosophy, of which pictures are but the experiments?’ Constable studied the accepted physics of rainbows at the time which enabled him to create the remarkable rainbow in Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows. He wrote elsewhere ‘we see nothing truly till we understand it’. However he was quite happy to introduce an inconsistent symbolic rainbow


Multi-storey car park at the University of Leeds is open to the general public after 17.00. Up to two hours costs £2. http://carparking.leeds.ac.uk/directions-to-campus/

Enriching the Teaching of A level Mathematics

Enriching the Teaching of A level Mathematics: a Study Day for Teachers


 11:00  Registration and coffee








Teaching mechanics: assumptions, misconceptions and Newton’s Laws

This workshop will cover basic assumptions, misconceptions and Newton’s Laws in the teaching of mechanics. There will be many activities used that can be taken very easily directly into the classroom.

Workshop leader: Dr Tom Roper
Tom taught mathematics in schools and colleges for 17 years, before joining the School of Education at the University of Leeds. Tom has given many talks on mathematics and has led workshops in schools and at conferences.  Currently he is President of the Mathematical Association.

 12:45  Lunch








Using rich tasks for teaching A level Mathematics

We will work together on some rich tasks offered by Underground Mathematics and consider the different ways in which the resources could be used to develop students’ mathematical thinking. We will also discuss how classroom video clips can be used for teacher professional development.

Workshop leader: Dr Lizzie Kimber
Lizzie taught A-level mathematics in schools for seven years. She has worked on curriculum projects as a Nuffield Foundation Education Fellow and has designed resources for NRICH and Underground Mathematics.

 15:00  Tea and departure

Fee: £10 including refreshments and lunch.

This event is organized by the Yorkshire Branch of the Mathematical Association.



Physics Sixth Form Conference

Join us at the Physics Sixth Form Conference here at the University of Leeds and hosted by the School of Physics and Astronomy.

The purpose of this event is for A-level students to hear about the new and exciting areas of research happening at the University of Leeds, and the opportunities available to both pre-university and undergraduate students to not just learn physics, but DO physics.

We’ll showcase the active research environment here at the University of Leeds that enables us to offer exciting courses taught by experts who are leaders in their fields.

Explore STEM Day

Year 10 and 11 students are invited to visit the University of Leeds to discover more about higher education, find out what STEM subjects you can study at university and where they could take you! We’ll show you around the University and you can find out what it’s like to be a student here.

In the afternoon, you’ll get to take part in a hands-on taster session from a range of subjects and themes.

This event is offered as a Subject Taster day for Excellence Hubs.

To book, please visit the Excellence Hub booking system for the University of Leeds.

Chemistry Taster Day

Come and join us for a Chemistry Taster Day!

Are you currently in year 12 studying A level chemistry? Are you considering studying Chemistry at university and would like to find out more? Join us for a taster day where you will experience life as an undergraduate chemist by carrying out practical experiments in our teaching labs, exploring the campus and speaking to current staff and students in the School of Chemistry.

Sculpting Light to the Atom-Scale

Professor Jeremy Baumberg
University of Cambridge

Sculpting Light to the Atom-Scale or: How Nanoscience can Enable the Intelligent Toilet

Matter can interact with light to give us superfast internet connections, or allow us to see the protein workings of our cells. But we don’t really understand the limit to this because it is only now that it is becoming possible to reliably build and assemble structures on the nanoscale that sculpt light more exquisitely.
In this talk, I will show how such nano-photonics is capable of squeezing light smaller than single molecular bonds so we can watch them directly. This opens up the use of chemistry to make springy machinery that enables colour-changing wallpapers, or its use for biosensing of molecules to tell you about your body’s health on a day-by-day basis.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells and Fibonacci all in a row

2016 saw the RHS Chelsea Flower Show feature a Mathematics Garden and whilst I didn’t go and see it, the articles about it that I read caused me to explore a little. The talk and activities therein won’t improve your garden but it might add something to your mathematical diet.