Interactive virtual talk on Graphene technology to Backwell School


CFPR arranged an interactive talk on Graphene: New Materials Towards Sustainable Technologies, to Backwell School in Bristol, February 2022. The talk was delivered by Dr Shaila Afroj, Senior Research Fellow; Marzia Dulal, PhD Researcher, and Andy Johnson, Senior Business Development Manager, to year 12 A-Level Physics students.

The session started with a brief introduction of the Centre for Print Research (CFPR) and its diverse research areas. Dr Afroj then took students on a virtual story telling journey, sharing how she started to dream about becoming a scientist in her childhood and met some great researchers during her PhD, including Nobel Laureate Prof Kostya S Novoselov and Prof Andre Geim, who truly inspired her throughout her journey as a researcher. She pointed out the importance of being adventurous and enjoying the research, referring to the ‘Friday night experiment’ idea where Prof Geim’s lab carried out adventure or curiosity-driven research. During one of the Friday night experiments, Prof Novoselov and Prof Geim accidentally isolated a single flake of graphene for the first time, which led to them winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

Dr Afroj explained what Graphene is, and why and how it demonstrates all the incredible physical, mechanical, optical and thermal properties which make it a prospective disruptive material. The students were handed some laboratory equipment and samples that were produced in the graphene lab to gain a better understanding of the technology, and joined in with several interactive experimental sessions with Dr Afroj and Mrs Marzia.

Marzia Dulal demonstrating research
Slide from Dr Afroj’s presentation

Dr Afroj said “let’s be brave and have fun while doing science” and at the end of the session she asked the students to let their imagination run wild, getting them involved in idea generation for future application of Graphene.

Rachel St John-Cress, Teacher of Science at Backwell School joined the students in this presentation session and stated:

 “The students thought the presentation was excellent: it was interesting, varied and informative. The content from both a Physics and Chemistry perspective was relevant to the age and knowledge levels of the pupils. The session was also really aspirational from a careers point of view as it showed the career progression of Dr Shaila Afroj and Mrs Marzia Dulal and how this was instrumental in the development of Graphene.

Both the presentation and the demonstrations illustrated the importance of scientific research in the development of art techniques, design of clothes and materials, as well as aviation and other scientific applications. It was exciting to see samples of fabric capacitors, learning first-hand about developing a new technology and gain an impression of what it is like to be a researcher.

Backwell School is very grateful for the time and expertise given by the CFPR department at UWE which really did enrich our student’s wider knowledge of Graphene and its varied applications.”

The Backwell students and the team from CFPR felt thrilled, and CFPR would be delighted to run an interactive session with other schools in future, physically or virtually. If your school would be interested in hearing more about CFPR’s research, please email us at CFPRinfo@uwe.ac.uk.

Thanks to Backwell School

Top of page image: Andy Johnson and Dr Shaila Afroj in the CFPR lab

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