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Robert Perrin Outreach Award Winner

Solar Cell Outreach Workshop

Congratulations to Dr Sarah-Jane Potts MIMMM, winner of the Robert Perrin Outreach Award from the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3). The Robert Perrin Award is presented for outstanding and sustained commitment to outreach activity covering Materials Science and Technology, targeted at 11-19 year old students.

We’re delighted Sarah-Jane has won as she is passionate about communicating the wonders of Materials Science to young students.

After discovering Materials Science while studying at Swansea University, Sarah-Jane was fascinated by how practical and creative the subject is. She was intrigued by the tactile, physical element to materials research which involves working in labs, designing, and making things. All the activities as a child you typically imagine a scientist doing. Things she knew young students would get excited about, if only they knew about the subject…

Why Materials?

Materials science is at the heart of so many branches of engineering – automotive, aerospace, construction, renewables… But not many people are lucky enough to find out about it until later in education. It remains a ‘secret’ science. But those that study materials find it opens doors into a huge range of other subjects. After all, everything is fundamentally made of a ’material’. Sarah-Jane wanted everyone to discover the amazing world of materials; to use her skills to inspire young people into science.

Sarah-Jane’s Outreach Work

Sarah-Jane has continually promoted materials science over the years with workshops, talks and competitions. Over lockdown, lots of students struggled terribly with home schooling. After speaking to parents having difficulties motivating their children, Sarah-Jane seized this opportunity to step up her outreach. She developed a programme of online events available both live and on YouTube. Students could follow along at home, recreating the experiment. With workshops such as Engineering for the Apocalypse and Fascinating Fluids around the Home, Sarah-Jane translated materials science into an activity that captured students’ imagination. Sarah-Jane was recently awarded Highly Commended as Most Inspirational STEM ambassador Wales.

Sarah-Jane carefully constructs her outreach activities, providing a clear link between science at school and how it relates to the bigger picture. With a pathway from outreach to global issues (e.g. build your own penny battery workshop paired with a grid scale energy talk), students can see how they can apply materials science to areas they are passionate about.

Find Out More

Get in touch if you’re interested in finding out more about materials science. From our programme of free outreach events to open days, we’d love to hear from you.

IOM3 supports professionals in materials, minerals and mining and promotes all aspects of the materials cycle, from extraction to recycling. The Institute awards, the oldest of which date back to 1874, are prestigious accolades that celebrate individuals and organisations who have made exceptional advancements to the profession. The Robert Perrin award is supported jointly with the Worshipful Company of Armourers & Brasiers.

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