Next generation Brunels at Bristol Uni

Talented Bristol pupils explored the worlds of science as part of a special programme to inspire the city’s next generation

The Year 9 students, who are in the third year of a five year scheme run by the ss Great Britain Trust, visited the University of Bristol to take part in activities that pay homage to Brunel’s personality and his life’s work.

The special day aimed to help the teenagers better understand ‘Brunel the Magician’ and to engage young minds with science and engineering through exploration of cutting-edge technology.

The Future Brunels programme is one of the educational activities run by the Trust’s Brunel Institute, situated next to the historic ship in Bristol. The young people were selected based on their potential, their passion for science and engineering and their ability to work as part of a team. The five-year rolling programme aims to encourage more children to consider a career in science and engineering.

During their day at Bristol the Future Brunels met Professor Bruce Drinkwater in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, where they were introduced to the reality of levitation which appears to be magical but is in fact scientifically achieved using magnetic and acoustic wave technology.

Final year Mechanical Engineering students from the university shared their university project with the pupils, experimenting with levitating drops of water and other liquids to produce levitating taste sensations.

Professor Drinkwater said: “Brunel would not have known about magnetic or acoustic levitation, but we will explore how these seemingly magic effects can be used by engineers.”

The Future Brunels also explored the ‘Brain as a Magician’ with Dr Nina Kazanina, Senior Lecturer at the School of Experimental Psychology, where they learnt about auditory and visual illusions. They had the opportunity to track their own brain activity through Electroencephalograph (EEG), a non-invasive brain recording technique.

Dr Kazanina said: “We are excited to host some of the most original and curious young minds from across Bristol. The theme ’Brain as a Magician’ is an ideal starting point from which to uncover some of the brain processes that underlie complex and fascinating behaviour.”

The day culminated in a challenge for the young minds, who designed their own artefacts using levitation.