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Department of Physics

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Atom bank and will.i.am visit Durham University (28 November 2017)

(5 December 2017)

Atom bank along with musician, tech entrepreneur and philanthropist will.i.am have visited Durham to find out more about how the University is engaging young people in science and technology.

The visit was organised by Atom bank, the UK’s first bank built exclusively for smartphone and tablet who recently announced a new four-year partnership with The Prince’s Trust as their leading North-East Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) partner.

In his role as Strategic Board Advisor, Atom are learning from will.i.am’s passion and experience in building successful STEM programmes in the US, alongside his wider involvement with the World Economic Forum future skills agenda. This will help inform the role Atom can play in building a broader skills base and fuelling social mobility in the North East.

Science outreach

Along with the team from Atom bank, will.i.am met students and researchers at Durham’s Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics.

Students showed the Atom team and will.i.am a number of hands-on activities used in science outreach including:

  • Computer game technology that allows people to experience the gravitational lensing effects of dark matter on galaxies;
  • A virtual reality fly-through of the Universe – called Tour of The Cosmos - created using computer simulations from the EAGLE project;
  • The Universe Creator where people feed the ingredients for galaxy growth into a computer to create their own virtual cosmos;
  • A selection of exhibits from ChemistryMathematical Sciences and other departments.

Engaging in education and innovation

Jane Robinson, Chief Operating Officer, Durham University, said: “Durham is a World Top 100 University, renowned for the quality of its research.

“An important aspect of our work is to communicate that research to the wider world, to further understanding, and to encourage people to become engaged in education and innovation, whatever their interests.

“It was wonderful to welcome Atom bank and will.i.am to the University so they could see the strength of just some of the outreach activities delivered by our staff and students.”

Durham research

Atom is based in Durham City and has strong links with the University through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership involving the Department of Mathematical Sciences and student placements. Members of Atom are involved in advisory roles within the University.

Each year thousands of children and adults take part in Durham’s outreach work through the University’s museums and attractions, sports activities and coaching, staff and student volunteering and through talks and lessons in schools.

Events such as the recent Lumiere light festival, of which the University was a major partner, and Celebrate Sciencedraw in thousands of visitors to the City, introducing them in new ways to Durham’s research.