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Physics in action

A physics education grant from The Ogden Trust has supported a local initiative to work with schools to help decarbonise their community.

Published: 3 April 2023

Phil Furneaux, a former physics teacher, university outreach offices and physics coach, is the founding director of Brampton 2 Zero (B2Z), a community interest company which is aiming to decarbonise his local community in Cumbria.

“B2Z was set up to lower Brampton’s carbon footprint, increase biodiversity and increase the resilience of the community to climate change,” explains Phil. “Making local students aware of how we can combat climate change is really important to this process, and B2Z is working with schools, colleges and the local university.”

An Ogden physics education grant has already enabled B2Z to run a solar car competition in local schools, and work with third year students at Lancaster University on an industrial project looking at building a model community energy scheme. The grant has also supported the development of physics questions and resources that now feature on the Sustainability Physics for Schools website; developed by Phil and former physics teacher Melissa Lord, this website helps inform the school projects and initiatives run by B2Z. The challenges on offer to schools include projects looking at community energy schemes, EV car clubs and EV charging points.

Students frpom William Howard School working on an experiment

Students at William Howard School testing their solar cars to see how much charge they could store in the capacitor.

“The need for schools to be involved with the B2Z is crucial to the whole climate emergency programme,” adds Phil. “The younger generations need an understanding of climate change and the technology needed to mitigate its effects. Children can be very persuasive in influencing their parents on ways to lower the home carbon footprint, so their involvement is essential,” concludes Phil.

The Sustainability Physics for Schools website (which has also received funding from the Trust) has themes and resources for all schools to use when teaching this invaluable topic.

Three students with their solar buggy

Lancaster University Physics Department designed and made a model of a community energy scheme during their third year industrial project. The model is pictured at the top of this article.

 


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