QUB logo

Astrophysics Research Centre

School of Mathematics and Physics

Resources for Schools

Public outreach is an important part of our work in ARC, and also within the School of Mathematics and Physics, and all members contribute in various ways. If you would like to contact us about any of the events below please email astroevents@qub.ac.uk.

You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Here you can find talks, lists of online resource and astronomy exercises for secondary school pupils and teachers. We also have brochures about possible careers after studying physics at School.

ARC at W5 and STEM Ambassadors

We have a strategic partnership with W5 in the Odyssey. We regularly support activities including talks, participation in exhibits and visits to schools.

Several of our postdocs and students are volunteer STEM Ambassadors, working with W5's STEM Ambassador programme.

You can find out more about our STEM Ambassadors here.

2015/12/04 00:00 · David Young

School Talks

Staff within the Centre offer talks to interested schools, as part of the Maths & Physics Outreach activities. Below are brief descriptions of some of the talks currently available. Feel free to contact us for more details or if you would like us to come and speak at your school.

"Why is the sky blue?" – Prof. Mihalis Mathioudakis

The appearance of the Sun changes with the time of the day and we are often amazed by the spectacular colours associated with sunrises and sunsets. This lecture will provide a description of the processes involved in the generation of the colours we encounter in the sky.

"The death of the dinosaurs" - Prof. Alan Fitzsimmons

We now believe that the dinosaurs probably died out due to the collision of an asteroid or comet with Earth. Will this also be the fate of humanity? This talk discusses how scientists have reached their general understanding of this, and explains the role of school-level science such as radioactivity, energy and the solar system. An overview of how scientists are tackling this threat is also given. This talk is suitable for years 11-14 (GCSE/A-Level).

"Supernovae & gamma-ray bursts" - Prof. Stephen Smartt

Supernovae are the explosions of the most massive stars in the Universe. Their energy release is immense, they can be more than a billion times brighter that the Sun. Supernovae have created the chemical elements that make up ourselves and our solar system, providing the critical ingredients for life. The mysterious gamma-ray bursts first discovered in the 1970s as unpredictable pulses of gamma-ray radiation scattered over the sky have recently been shown to be linked to the most energetic of supernovae. These are explosions where a rapidly spinning star collapses to form a black hole. This talk describes the life and death of the Universe's most massive stars.

"The Science in Science Fiction films and TV" - Prof. Francis Keenan

In these presentations I use short clips from films and television programmes to illustrate how science-fiction in the media sometimes gets science right, but more often gets it wrong! Additionally, I show how difficult it is to make accurate predictions about the future, and hence why most science-fiction films and television are extremely unrealistic. There are four presentations to choose from:

  • To boldly go where no-one has gone before. This presentation looks at the depiction of space travel in science-fiction movies and television shows, and how realistic it is.
  • Set phasers to stun! A look at weapons in science-fiction, such as ray guns, and space battles from movies such as Star Wars.
  • We Come In Peace. A look at the portrayal of aliens in science-fiction, including that staple of many movies and television shows, the alien invasion.
  • Back to the future. A look at how the predictions made in science-fiction movies and television shows have sometimes come true, but are often totally wrong.

The presentations are aimed at children aged 14+, i.e. GCSE and A-Level pupils. Each presentation runs to 45 minutes, and requires facilities for XGA video display and audio. Although presented in an unconventional manner, these talks raise several points of key relevance to GCSE and A-Level Physics, and will provide many issues for later class discussions.

"That's no Moon! A look at some of the best SciFi weapons" - Dr Robert Ryans

Derived from a common ancestor to 'Set phasers to stun!', this talk looks at selection of iconic SciFi weapons, compares them to what's available in the real world, and also manages to bring in The Simpsons. Using a combination of humour and many video clips we cover a lot of physics topics in a way which can provide many follow-up topics for later discussion.

2015/12/04 00:00 · David Young

Online Resource Lists

This webpage contains a compilation of resources that can be used by school teachers and students interested in learning about Astronomy and other areas of Physics.

Useful websites & resources

General Physics

Physics Careers

Association of Science Educators Talk 2015 - Rosetta & GCSE Science

The powerpoint slides for this talk can be found here (Warning - 88 MB file)

European Space Agency movies are not are not included in the slideshow, but can be freely downloaded from ESA:

* Rosetta's journey * How Philae landed on the comet * Ambition * What Rosetta and Philae did (Cartoon)

Physics Teachers Conference 2014

Particle Physics

If you attended a particle physics masterclass at Queen's, these links will direct you to both the software/data and instructions on how to perform the analysis. Note that the exercise performed at QUB may not have been exactly that described on the website:

  1. Using W-boson decays in the LHC ATLAS detector to test the standard model of particle physics

If you are a teacher, you may order free posters and booklets about particle physics.

Astronomy & Space

The Sun

Real-time pictures from telescopes and satellites.

Solar System

International Space Station (ISS)


2015/12/04 00:00 · David Young

Astronomy Exercises for Students

The Expansion of the Universe

You can get students to make their own measurements of this via two sets of resources:

The Solar System - Kepler's Third Law, Gravity and Density

This PDF file includes some exercises on Kepler's 3rd law, gravity, and density. For some of these exercises you will need the data in this Excel file for the dwarf planet Haumea. The Excel file contains data on the brightness of dwarf planet Haumea measured as a function of time on two nights in 2007, by astronomers at QUB. The lightcurve plotted using those data should appear as shown to the left.

2015/12/04 00:00 · David Young

Astronomy in the CCEA AS Specification

In December 2016 we ran a workshop on the new astronomy content of the AS specification for CCEA. 52 teachers attended from schools around Northern Ireland. Below we link to Microsoft powerpoint slides and word documents used in the workshop.

Slideset 1: Main slideshow presentation, including background (part 1), The Hubble Law (part 2), interpretation (part 3). These slides can be used for self reference or adapted for use in the classroom. Powerpoint file size 11.9 MB

Slideset 2: Common Questions slides. These list and give answers to some of the more common questions from students. Powerpoint file size 0.7 MB

Slideset 3: Worksheet slides. Slides accompanying the worksheet exercise.Powerpoint file size 0.8 MB

Worksheet: Table of galaxies with distances, wavelengths, velocities, and redshifts only partly completed. Word document file size 0.5 MB

Worksheet: Completed table of galaxies with distances, wavelengths, velocities, and redshifts. Word document file size 0.5 MB

2016/12/12 00:00 · Alan Fitzsimmons
public/outreach/resources.txt · Last modified: 2015/12/04 15:18 by David Young

Privacy & Cookies | Accessibility statement
Back to Top Sitemap News