Teacher Events

We are very keen to engage with teachers and offer several workshops and events throughout the year. 

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Upcoming Events

Details of any upcoming events will appear here.


Past Events

Hirsch Lecture 2022, Friday 14th January 2022, 4:30pm

'From Batteries to Solar Cells: Exploring Energy Materials on the Atomic Scale'
-Professor Saiful Islam FRSC FIMMM
Professor Saiful Islam

Professor Saiful Islam FRSC FIMMM


Teachers are warmly invited to join us virtually for this year's Hirsch Lecture.

This event will be in a hybrid format and will be able to be joined virtually via Microsoft Teams. If you wish to join us for this event, please register your interest by filling out this form and we will send you the joining link.

Professor Saiful Islam is the incoming Statutory Chair in Materials Modelling at the University of Oxford, and this will be his first public lecture as a member of the Department of Materials.  

Abstract:  Breakthroughs in clean energy technologies require advances in new materials and underpinning science.  A greater fundamental understanding of energy materials depends upon characterisation of their structural, transport and nano-scale behaviour. With the aid of 3D glasses, this talk highlights the use of advanced modelling methods in synergy with experimental techniques to gain atomic-scale insights into novel materials for lithium-ion batteries and perovskite solar cells.


Science Teachers Conference – 1st November 2019 - London

A day conference for secondary school science teachers as part of the Making Materials Matter Project 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.


Education Plenary Talk : 'A review of current evidence on promising educational approaches which are likely to improve the attainment and progression of low-SES students in science education'

Professor Judith Hillier

Professor Judith Hillier

This talk will present key findings from a systematic and rigorous review of the research literature recently conducted to gather and evaluate the evidence for promising educational approaches which are likely to improve the attainment and progression of low-SES students in science education. The evidence reviewed suggests that interventions designed to support the development of students’' scientific reasoning, their literacy skills and their metacognitive skills can have beneficial effects, provided certain conditions are met and that technology may make a positive contribution. There is also evidence to show the benefits of interventions designed from a socio-cultural perspective, and these can be categorised as follows:

1. Bringing students into a science ‘place’ e.g. university laboratories or a science museum
2. Bringing scientists or extra-curricular science activities into schools
3. Developing teachers’ understanding of students’ perspectives
The implications of these findings for teachers, teacher educators and policy makers will be discussed."

About the Speaker
Judith Hillier is Associate Professor of Science Education at the University of Oxford Department of Education. Her research includes initial teacher education, with a focus on how and why people become physics teachers, explanations in science education, and the under-representation of women in physics.

Professor Sarah Haigh

Professor Sarah Haigh



Materials Plenary Talk: 'Unexpected Atoms in a pencil trace'
Professor Sarah Haigh, The University of Manchester

About the Speaker
Sarah Haigh is a Professor of Materials Characterisation at the University of Manchester, UK. Her research interests centre on improving our understanding of nanomaterials properties using transmission electron microscope (TEM) imaging and analysis techniques.



Jo Foster

Jo Foster

Institute of Research in Schools : 'How ordinary schools are turning teenagers into Research Scientists'
Jo Foster, IRIS

The Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS) supports students to do cutting-edge, university and postgraduate-level research while they are still in school. Across the country, students are involved in projects as diverse as looking for anomalies in data from the Spitzer telescope or decoding the genome of a nasty parasite to help to find a cure. This approach inspires and motivates students, while enhancing the curriculum and supporting them in choosing exciting STEM careers. Our evidence shows that supporting students with research also re-energises teachers and reminds them why they chose Science in the first place! Come and find out how your school can get involved in this free and amazing programme of in-school research.

About the Speaker

Jo has been involved in the teaching of Science for 19 years and was previously Vice Principal at Camborne Science and International Academy in Cornwall, acting as Director of Nexus, the school’s specialist STEM centre and Cornwall School of Maths and Science (2015-2019). After successfully working with IRIS on a number of research projects within her school, she became a Trustee of IRIS in 2017. She was appointed as Director of IRIS in August 2019. Jo is also the STEM Education Trustee for the Science Museum Group and has been a member of the Royal Society Education Committee since 2018.

Oxford University Teacher Summer School – 11th -12th July 2019

This is a CPD accredited two-day residential summer school for teachers at state-funded schools and colleges in the UK. The summer school aims to support teachers to stretch and challenge their most able students, and equip them with the best possible advice and guidance on selective university admissions. During the summer school, teachers receive detailed support and guidance about the Oxford admissions process, experience taster sessions for different academic subjects, and learn from mock interviews.

Making Materials Matter Workshop – Jayne Shaw, Access & Outreach Manager

09:30-10:30 Thursday 10th January 2019
ASE Annual Teachers Conference, University of Birmingham

This workshop will share the resources developed through the Making Materials Matter project and look at the direct links these have with the KS3-4 curriculum. We will discuss the sustainability of the project and the potential support we can offer teachers with regards enriching the curriculum with the aim of inspiring the next generation of scientists.

Further information and booking details can be found at https//www.ase.org.uk/annual-conference


Hirsch Lecture 2019
4:30pm, Friday 8 February 2019

As part of our outreach efforts we will be running a CPD Materials Science workshop for Teachers preceding the biennial Hirsch Lecture which will be delivered by Professor Anne Neville on Friday 8th Feb 2019 at 4.30pm.

There will be a pre-lecture tea and post-lecture drinks reception, and we would like to use this event as an opportunity for science teachers to visit and enjoy the workshop and/or the lecture and hospitality.

The workshop aims to showcase latest developments in Materials Science and make available resources we have developed for hands-on experiments in schools. These activities are designed to support the teaching of Materials Science and raise awareness of this discipline as an option for your science students to pursue at tertiary education. We will provide an overview of our applications and admissions process and plenty of opportunities to ask questions.


Making Materials Matter 2018 Teachers Conference
Friday 13th July 2018, Ironmonger's Hall, London

An exciting conference for UK teachers with 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 Making Materials Matter conference is funded by The Company of Ironmongers and held at the Ironmongers Hall in London concludes a 6-month KS3 materials science project run collaboratively by Oxford & Cambridge Universities and Imperial College London. All resources developed from the project will be made freely available to teachers, enabling them to link curriculum content to materials science.

Plenary speaker Professor Louise Archer will be delivering the education plenary on her important research on science capital 'Improving student engagement with STEM: A science capital approach' followed by 'Using the science capital teaching approach in practice: workshop'.

Plenary speaker Professor Rachel Oliver will be delivering the materials science plenary, ‘Illuminating Materials'

Education Plenary Talk - Professor Louise Archer


louise archer

Prof Louise Archer

 Louise Archer is the Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education at UCL Institute of Education. Her research focuses on educational identities and inequalities, particularly in relation to gender, social class and ethnicity. She has directed a number of research studies focusing on understanding young people's engagement with science, including the ten year longitudinal Aspires/Aspires2 project on children's science and career aspirations; the five Enterprising Science research and development project around engaging young people from under-represented communities with science and the UK side of the four year Youth Equity+STEM project, exploring young people's engagement with STEM through out-of-school settings.

Materials Science Talk - Professor Rachel Oliver

Illuminating Rachel

Illuminating Rachel

 Rachel Oliver is Professor in Materials Science at Cambridge University, and will be the Director of the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride from March 2018. She received her PhD in semiconductor nanotechnology from Oxford University in 2003 and since then has published more than 200 research papers. Her current research interests centre on gallium nitride, particularly understanding and engineering its structure at the very small scale. This involves her in the development of both a range of light sources (from light emitting diodes to more esoteric light emitters such as single photon sources for use in quantum cryptography) and also electronic devices for power conversion, data transmission, sensing and logic. Professor Oliver is also an enthusiastic advocate for women in science, and founded the Robinson College Women in Science Festival.

She is involved in a number of outreach projects, including a series of hands on workshops about light and light emitting devices for young people across the age range from 5 to 18. She leads the development of android apps which explain nitride light sources to a wide audience. In 2015 she was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering / Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship.

Illuminating Materials

Illuminating Rachel

Illuminating Rachel

About a quarter of the electricity generated worldwide is used for lighting. Energy efficient light bulbs based on light emitting diodes (LEDs) are about five times more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and hence have the potential to allow enormous energy savings. The key material used in LEDs which emit white light is gallium nitride, a man made compound, which has never been observed to occur in nature. Optimising this new material to make LEDs which are efficient, long-lived and reasonably affordable has been a huge challenge, and despite the undoubted commercial success of these devices many aspects of their operation remain mysterious. This lecture will explain how we can take LEDs apart, literally atom by atom, to understand their structure and how this controls their properties. The relevant techniques emerged from traditional metallurgy, but are now being used to understand materials for cutting edge optoelectronic devices, illustrating how the basic principles of materials science are vital to the development of the technologies of tomorrow.

Research in Schools - Becky Parker & Helena Benthall

Becky Parker

News Becky Parker

Prof Becky Parker

 After a physics degree and research at the University of Chicago, Becky taught in a variety of schools. She is now Director of the Institute for Research in Schools. IRIS supports school students and teachers getting involved in authentic research through a wide range of research projects. Becky has received Honorary Fellowship of the Institute of Physics and the Kavli Education Medal from the Royal Society.




Helena Benthall


Helena Benthall

Helena Benthall

Helena Benthall

Helena Benthall is a student, teacher-scientist and freelance show producer. Whilst studying Chemistry at Imperial College London as an undergraduate she is working as a Project Consultant at The Institute of Research in Schools. Before university, she was employed by a private school in London where she taught maths from reception to further maths, was a chemistry tutor and managed the extra curricular music programme. She now tutors science and maths to students of all ages. Outside science, she is Varsity Vocal’s UK Associate Producer running the International Championships for Collegiate A Cappella across the UK.

Les Bicknell

Les Bicknell

Mini Workshops - Les Bicknell

Les Bicknell Artist working within The Learning Institute at King's College London within Anatomy and Biomedical Engineering, on a synthetic anatomy arts into science module. His practice includes large scale public art commissions and an extensive history of working within community engagement initiatives. Currently working as Senior Lecturer on the Textile Design BA at NUA, Course Tutor MA in Book Art at UAL Camberwell and Visiting Tutor on the MA Fine Art Course at OCA. The work can be found in numerous public and private international collections including The Rijksmuseum, The V&A, M.O.M.A. New York, and The Tate Gallery.   Les's presentation is available via slideshare.

The Road to Materials Science at University – Jayne Shaw


Jayne Shaw

Jayne Shaw

Jayne Shaw is the Access and Outreach Manager for the Department of Materials at Oxford University. Jayne started her career as a Chemistry Teacher in a village school before moving to an inner city London secondary comprehensive as Head of Chemistry. Jayne now works in developing and delivering science outreach to schools with the aim of raising aspirations and inspiring the next generation of scientists. Jayne has managed a range of award winning projects working with a variety of stakeholders including the Royal Society of Chemistry, UCL Chemistry, The Ashmolean Museum and The University of the Arts, London.

'Discover Materials: Teachers Workshop' 
1-5pm Wednesday 11th July 2018
School of Metallurgy and Materials at the University of Birmingham

Workshop Poster

Workshop Poster

We are delighted to be collaborating with the University of Birmingham, Cambridge University, Imperial College London, Loughborough University, University of Manchester, Queen Mary University of London, The University of Sheffield, and University of Swansea, to offer a free afternoon Materials Science workshop for teachers of science.

The workshop is aimed at GCSE and A-level science teachers and will highlight opportunities available to your students in the field of Materials Science and Engineering, provide you with simple hands-on activities linked to the current science curriculum that you can easily bring back to your classroom. The hands-on activity will complement your curriculum delivery when covering Hooke's law, Young's modulus and the structure of materials, as well as additional topics such as shape memory alloys.

Lunch and coffee will be provided to attendees. Please book early as places are limited.
Please register at https://dmtw2018.eventbrite.com 

1:00pm - Registration, lunch and networking
2:00pm - Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering
2:20pm - Hands-on activity 1
2:50pm - Hands-on activity 2
3:20pm - Coffee
3:50pm - Hands-on activity 3
4:20pm - Where can Materials Science and Engineering take your students?
4:40pm - Q&A
5:00pm - End of day

Making Materials Matter 2017 Teachers Conference
A report on the conference held at Ironmonger’s Hall on 17th May 2017

An exciting conference which provided opportunities to network with colleagues and learn more about the subject of Materials Science. The conference was funded by The Ironmongers Company and concludes a 3-month KS3 Materials Science project run collaboratively by Oxford & Cambridge Universities. The day included talks on Materials Science linked to the curriculum, discussion of the project going forward and mini-presentations from students involved in the project. Resources for use by teachers of science were developed and discussed.

Teaching Resources

 Here are some resource sheets outlining some practical investigations of materials.

Plenary Talk "Stuff Matters" Prof Mark Miodownik

News Stuff Matters

Mark Looking at Stuff

 Mark Miodownik is Director of Institute of Making at UCL where he teaches and runs a research group. He received his Ph.D in turbine jet engine alloys from Oxford University in 1996 and since then has published more than 100 research papers. His current research interests are animate materials, innovative manufacturing, and sensoaesthetic materials. For more than ten years he has championed materials research that links the arts and humanities to medicine, engineering and materials science. This culminated in the establishment of the UCL Institute of Making where he is Director and runs the research programme. Prof Miodownik is a well known author and broadcaster. He regularly presents BBC TV programmes on engineering which have reached millions of viewers in more than 200 countries. In 2013 he was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke Medal, and he was elected a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014. He is author of Stuff Matters, a New York Times Best Selling book, which won the Royal Society Winton Prize in 2014 and the US National Academies Communication Award in 2015. In 2016 he was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Public Engagement with Science.

Research in Schools - Prof Becky Parker

News Becky Parker

Prof Becky Parker

 After a physics degree and research at the University of Chicago, Becky taught in a variety of schools. She is now Director of the Institute for Research in Schools. IRIS supports school students and teachers getting involved in authentic research through a wide range of research projects. Becky has received Honorary Fellowship of the Institute of Physics and the Kavli Education Medal from the Royal Society.