The Making Materials Matter Outreach Project
The Making Materials Matter Programme
Making Materials Matter is an outreach programme which aims to inspire the next generation of materials scientists and engineers through early and sustained engagement from Yr8-Yr10. The core programme focuses on Year 8 students and is centred on independent research projects completed over a period of 6 months with guidance and support from materials ambassadors from Oxford Materials and our university partners.
Making Materials Matter was launched in 2017 and ran as a joint venture between Oxford Materials and Cambridge Materials, with much appreciated support from The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers. We are now in our 5th year (following a pause due to the pandemic) and are delighted to have Imperial College Materials and Sheffield Materials involved.
The programme has expanded from the core research projects and now also includes hands-on follow up events for Yr9 & Yr10 students, a teacher's conference, and a new digital series of live webinars aimed at KS3 students.
Explore the tabs below to find out more about the programme:
The project engages with Year 8 students and teachers of science from ten UK state schools with the aims of enriching the science curriculum, increasing awareness of Materials Science, and supporting teachers in raising aspirations and inspiring their students to pursue further study of the physical sciences. Follow up events are offered to all students involved throughout their secondary education.
Making Materials Matter is centred on a Student Extended Investigation which culminates in both a Student Conference and a separate Science Teachers’ Conference.
The student investigations are designed and supported jointly by Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield, and Imperial Materials to draw links between the school curriculum and cutting-edge materials science. Students work in small groups to carry out their investigation over a four-month period with remote support offered by our university student ambassadors. This concludes with findings from their projects being presented at a student conference in Oxford. The student conference is held in May/June and previous conferences have been generously hosted by St John’s College, Oxford and The Ashmolean Museum with further support from Mansfield, St Anne’s and St Catherine’s Colleges.
Find out what the students, teachers and ambassadors thought about the first year of the project by watching the video clip below:
The Making Materials Matter Webinars
The Making Materials Matter Webinars are the newest addition to our programme and offer students in KS3 (Yr7-9) the chance to explore cutting-edge research in Materials Science. Each webinar will be given by a researcher at one of our partner universities and will focus on a topic within Materials Science and it's current applications, providing insight into what Materials Scientists really do whilst linking back to what students are learning in school and how this is being used to solve real world problems.
In December 2021, we will be hosting 3 webinars given by researchers at the University of Oxford Department of Materials. These webinars will be taking place on 1st, 8th, and 15th December, all from 4:00-4:30pm (GMT). You can find more details of each of the webinars below.
Registration is required to attend the webinars and you can register by filling out this form. This will register you for all the webinars - attendance at all the webinars is highly encouraged, however if can't make them all, you are of course welcome to join the ones you can!
These webinars are aimed at students in KS3 so the science content of the talks will be focused at that level. However you are more than welcome to join even if you are not in KS3, and teachers and parents are welcome too. Each webinar is 30 minutes long in total and will include plenty of time for all your questions!
Details of each of the webinars and the speakers are below:
1st December, 4-4:30pm (GMT) - Bradley Young: "Materials Challenges for Nuclear Power"
8th December, 4-4:30pm (GMT) - Dr Alex Sheader: "Flash Frozen Biology: Understanding Cells and Viruses using Atomic-Resolution Electron Microscopy"
15th December, 4-4:30pm (GMT) - Emma Hedley: "Why do phone batteries fail?"
Joining links for each of the webinars will be sent to the email address you provide in the registration form the day before each webinar, with a reminder email being sent one hour before the start time of the event.
Each webinar will be recorded (subject to speaker approval) and will be made available on the Oxford Materials YouTube channel a short time after the live event.
We ask that all participants and attendees at online events hosted by the Department of Materials abide by a short Code of Conduct for online events. You can view this on our website here.
If you have any questions or issues registering for or joining any of the webinars, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
The Science Teacher's Conference
The Making Materials Matter Science Teacher's Conference is a day long event for secondary school science teachers providing opportunities to network with colleagues and learn more about the subject of materials science, where it fits into the current curricular, and the importance of science enrichment opportunities. The day will also include the chance to try out practical activities developed and/or delivered on the project.
The Science Teachers’ Conference usually takes place in June/July after the culmination of the Year 8 student research projects and is informed by the outcomes of the student investigations and makes available all resources developed. You can find some of these resources in the 'Resources' tab above.
The Science Teachers Conference is generously hosted by the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers at Ironmongers’ Hall in London. For an example of the day's activities, the programme from the 2019 Teacher Conference is below. Programmes and details from previous conferences can be viewed under past events on our Teacher Events page.
We aim to share all resources developed on the project with Teachers and provide the opportunity to try out all practical activities at our annual Science Teachers Conference. Here are some resource sheets outlining some practical investigations of materials: