CCFE’s mobile planetarium for schools is getting an upgrade.

Since 2006, thousands of primary school students in Oxfordshire and further afield have had the opportunity to visit our Sun Dome workshop. It’s an exciting and interactive way to learn how the sun is powered by fusion energy and how at Culham we’re making our own Sun on earth.

Over the past 13 years the Sun Dome has visited 150 schools and an estimated 7,500 children, with some former pupils now even having taken the step of working here as engineers and scientists. Started by Chris Warrick, CCFE’s Head of Communications, the Sun Dome was a hit from the off. Local radio helped to spread the word and soon the Communications Team were getting requests from teachers across the region. It was even popular with some of our fusion counterparts elsewhere in the UK. The University of York’s Physics Department shared the Sun Dome and brought it to their own communities. Soon afterwards, they took the step of getting their own fusion-themed mobile planetarium.

The Sun Dome workshop

A Sun Dome show in 2018

Now the time has come to bring a new Sun Dome to Oxfordshire and beyond. To this end, the last outing of the dome in its current guise took place at this year’s British Science Festival, where Outreach Officer Nik Muldal and graduate trainees Hannah Todd and Jonathon Witty presented to more than 200 children and their parents. Nik is hard at work creating a brand-new workshop ready for schools in September 2020. While this will still focus on exciting kids with the power of stars and introducing fusion to the next generation, we will also be bringing in up-to-date footage from work on the JET and MAST Upgrade tokamaks alongside information on the plans for future fusion reactors which could supply cleaner electricity to the power grid.

Nik Muldal comments: “Outreach like this can be a great asset in all areas of science and engineering, but especially so in fusion. The work we do here is quite incredible and to be able to present it in thrilling and engaging ways allows us to plant seeds of inspiration – something which could lead to more people being attracted to work in fusion. It also raises awareness amongst of it among wider society.”

More details about the new Sun Dome and how to book it will be posted during 2020 at: https://ccfe.ukaea.uk/about-ccfe/sun-dome/

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