Members of SWAT as part of SP²RC’s outreach plan are actively involved in Public Understanding of Science programmes. Its members strongly believe that public appreciation of their scientific activities is very important for the overall impact and health of their research work. Recently, we have put considerable effort into publicising our solar research to non-specialists inter/nationally. The satisfaction and joy of reaching out to school children and the general public has been instrumental in our continued good practice towards many other educational programmes. We are proud to have achieved success in electronic and traditional media in the last couple of years.
To list a few, the recent news item on Scientists find solution to solar puzzle also featuring as Scientists find giant solar twist both about discovering torsional Alfvén waves in the lower solar atmosphere in collaboration with QUB (see also STFC’s own press release), or Giant pipe organ in the solar atmosphere by RvFS and Dr Taroyan featured in BBC News NASA News, space.com, have all attracted considerable attention around the world (e.g. on yahoo.com this was leading news for a whole day). These articles consist of brief descriptions of research work in the field of MHD wave physics by RAs and postgraduate students of RvFS. He also gave numerous solar physics interviews from BBC to broadcasters in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Italy, Hungary, USA, etc. RvFS is a Co-I on UK’s first Solar System Virtual Visitor Centre funded by STFC. RvFS (Director) together with academic colleagues, RAs and PhD students organised two STFC supported international undergraduate summer schools in particle physics, astronomy and astrophysics. Both activities lasted for an entire month (2006, 2007) and were open to anyone worldwide. A third school is being organized this year and is directed by IB.
Dr. R. Jain, representing the entire SP²RC, was invited to take part in one of the exhibits of the “Time and Space” project at Royal Observatory, Greenwich which opened for school children and general public from 2007. We also actively promote the activities of SWAT and the entire Centre to the Media (Outreach activities: Furthering the public understanding of science) and are successfully engaged in school education programmes (giving talks to schools) during National Science week and otherwise. We are an active member of the Friends of Solar Pyramid society representing SWAT and SP²RC, which plans to design the world’s largest sundial and UK’s biggest piece of art. A member was invited to feature as a role model for young pupils, who need inspiration and encouragement to take up Astronomy and Geophysics as their career, in the leaflet prepared by RAS and STFC (which was sent out to hundreds of schools in England).
One of the most difficult tasks in any research is to write a simple, yet comprehensive, description of the field for non-specialists. Dr Ballai and RvFS have published a number of reviews for the general public (Coronal Heating, Helioseismology; MHD Waves), for link see Outreach activities: Furthering the public understanding of science. We will maintain these activities during the next Rolling Grant period. We (RvFS as Co-I) were also involved in outreach of UK’s solar system science in the context of the IHY and informing the general public via a public-facing website (CCLRC Agreement ref: 4150019, Period: 01/09/06-31/08/08). Finally, RvFS has been invited by the University Media Team to join the University's online Expert Guide used frequently by the Media Team and journalists to source academic experts to comment on topical news stories. Those listed are willing to be interviewed by the media at short notice.
SWAT’s active participation (lectures and organisation) of many STFC sponsored schools at undergraduate (2006, 2007 and 2009) and postgraduate levels in most years (see e.g. the latest one in 2008), both for national and international students and RAs, has been very popular and always has a positive impact on students and staff. Students acquiring an overall view of the research problems straight from the leading experts often feel inspired to do a PhD in these areas.