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York academic made Leadership Fellow in Public Engagement

Posted on 31 July 2018

Dr Christian Diget has been awarded a Leadership Fellowship in Public Engagement.

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement undertake high quality programmes of engagement and outreach while concurrently acting as champions for the value and practice of engagement with research in their host institution and research community. The fellowship award is funded by STFC with substantial contributions from University of York and the National STEM Learning Centre.

Dr Diget in his public statement about the project said, 'In my Engaging Education with Binding Blocks' project I aim to engage school students with cutting-edge STFC Nuclear Physics in an interactive inquiry-based approach. Binding Blocks centres around an interactive construction of a seven-metre nuclear chart of isotopes built of LEGO(R) bricks. Through engaging with the chart, participants get a hands-on experience of key areas of nuclear science, astrophysics, and energy. Binding Blocks is used with large audiences at public events or in smaller groups with schools. The entire chart can be built in half a day by hundreds of visitors, children and adults alike, or by 60 highly competitive teachers in half an hour of a training day'. 

Christian contines, 'The Fellowship project is focussed particularly on integrating Binding Blocks within UK A-level (and equivalent) delivery of nuclear physics. This is facilitated through large Nuclear Masterclasses, Teacher Training, and smaller scale in-school teaching by team members and teachers. The programme furthermore includes university student training, both taught and “on-the-job” training, as well as an extensive internship programme. Through these influencers, we will implement Binding Blocks in schools using the nuclear chart to study cutting-edge research in nuclear science, linked with the secondary-school curriculum. This includes study of nuclear isotopes, nuclear decay, nuclear energy, and the astrophysical origin of the chemical elements we are made of. The face-to-face engagement is complemented by a Free Online Course which will be implemented both as a self-contained learning environment and integrated with the Nuclear Masterclass programme.

During the fellowship, the Binding Blocks programme will thereby become a full-scale educational programme in collaboration with hundreds of schools and thousands of pupils. During the project, the Binding Blocks programme will furthermore grow organically through the development of partnerships and support for students who may become Binding Blocks ambassadors in their local area in the future. Throughout the programme, partner institutions and individuals will be supported in developing their own Binding Blocks programmes, through seeding and joint internships and projects, yielding a long-lasting impact across the UK on universities, schools, and individuals'.

Dr Diget has conceived, developed, and led the Binding Blocks public engagement programme (2015-present). This has so far reached approximately: 17,000 people at public events; 1100 secondary school students; 200 secondary-school teachers; 1000 academics and university students. It has received initial funding through three grants prior to the present Fellowship, and has expanded to a team of 50 members across more than 15 institutions in nine countries.