Today, on Twitter, I mentioned that I work at a nuclear fusion research centre and wondered if a Skype session with an expert would be of interest to anyone. This was on the monthly #globalclassroom chat, the focus of which was “How can we transform Science education through the integration of ICT and real world connections?”
I am proud to say that I work on the Joint European Torus project at Culham, near Oxford. The site is managed by CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy) and, to explain the research, I’ll quote their website: “Nuclear fusion, the process that powers the Sun, can play a big part in our carbon-free energy future. Culham is one of the world’s leading fusion research laboratories. Our scientists and engineers are working with partners around the globe to develop fusion as a new source of clean energy for tomorrow’s power stations.”
I don’t think that I’m overstating the fact when I say that the research here is of absolute global significance. I am a general electronics design engineer but we have many brilliant minds exploring science and expanding human knowledge in this very worthwhile endeavour. I know that many of these scientists would be keen to share their knowledge, to explain their work and so encourage future generations of engineers, scientists, physicists, designers, planners and more.
CCFE has a Pubic Information department which welcomes visits from secondary schools, colleges, universities and the pubic – anyone with an interest in what we do. It also has a very active outreach program for primary school ages upwards. However, the department is small and, as it is a working research centre with a very busy experimental programme, it is not always possible or convenient to have visitor groups being shown around. It strikes me that there is a low-cost, readily accessible opportunity here to connect interested learners to willing experts through the medium of Skype.
The focus of a Skype chat could perhaps be (but not limited to) science in general, women in science, technology, energy or the environment. I haven’t yet discussed this with the PI department (there seemed little point if there was no demand) but if you have some students who might be interested in “Skyping an Expert” then please contact me and I’ll do my best to convince them and get a rewarding connection set up.