Teacher CPD Activities

Details are included here of the various Teacher CPD activities offered by the Department

We offer a number of Teacher CPD activities, tailored to the needs of the participants. Along with our own Masterclasses, we have offered courses in collaboration with Headstart, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the Institute of Physics (IOP). We also offer informal CPD activities prior to the biennial Hirsch Lecture, which teachers are invited to attend. Click on the links below for more information:

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Hirsch Lecture

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Photo of Sir Peter Hirsch
This special event happens only once every two years and celebrates the birthday of Sir Peter Hirsch, a leading figure in British materials science who has made fundamental contributions to the application of transmission electron microscopy to metals. Born in 1925, he attended the Sloane School, Chelsea and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. In 1946 he joined the Crystallography Department of the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge to work for a PhD on work hardening in metals under Lawrence Bragg. He subsequently carried out important work, which is still cited, on the structure of coal. In the mid 1950s he pioneered the application of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to metals, and developed in detail the theory needed to interpret such images. In 1965, with Howie, Whelan, Pashley and Nicholson, he published the seminal text "Electron microscopy of thin crystals". The following year he moved to Oxford to take up the Isaac Wolfson Chair in Metallurgy, succeeding William Hume-Rothery. He held this post until his retirement in 1992, building up the Department of Metallurgy (now the Department of Materials) into a world-renowned centre. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1963, and knighted in 1975. He is still active in the Department and his recent research interests include modelling the brittle-ductile transition and plastic properties of intermetallics.

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The Hirsch Lecture 2015 - Teacher CPD Workshop

The Hirsch Lecture 2015

The 2015 Hirsch lecture will be given by Molly Stevens, Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine at Imperial College London, at 5.00pm on Friday 16th January 2015. Molly Stevens is currently Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine and the Research Director for Biomedical Material Sciences in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College. In 2010 she was recognised by The Times as one of the top ten scientists under the age of 40. She has also recently been recognised by the TR100, a compilation of the top innovators, under the age of 35, who are transforming technology - and the world with their work.

She has a large and extremely multidisciplinary research group focused on both high quality fundamental science and translation for human health. Research in regenerative medicine within her group includes the directed differentiation of stem cells, the design of novel bioactive scaffolds and new approaches towards tissue regeneration. She has developed novel approaches to tissue engineering that are likely to prove very powerful in the engineering of large quantities of human mature bone for autologous transplantation as well as other vital organs such as liver and pancreas, which have proven elusive with other approaches.

In the field of nanotechnology the group has current research efforts in exploiting specific biomolecular recognition and self-assembly mechanisms to create new dynamic nano-materials, biosensors and drug delivery systems. Recent efforts by the Stevens group in peptide-functionalised nanoparticles for enzyme biosensing have enabled the most sensitive facile enzyme detection to date and have a host of applications across diseases ranging from cancer to global health applications.

Photo of Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens
Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine, Imperial College London
5:00 p.m., Friday, 16th January 2015
Lecture Room 2, Andrew Wiles Building
Mathematical Institute
Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6GG

Details of Professor Stevens' biography and research interests can be found on the Imperial College website

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The Hirsch Lecture 2013 - Teacher CPD Workshop

The Hirsch Lecture 2013 - STRANGE MATERIAL

The lecture is available via the podcasts web site: Podcast of the 2013 HIRSCH LECTURE

Alternatively it can be accessed via the Oxford on iTunesU site:
The video podcast series is in here: Video file of the 2013 HIRSCH LECTURE
The audio podcast series is here: Audio file of the 2013 HIRSCH LECTURE

Whatever people think about the rapid pace of tecnological change in the past, the fundamental arrangement of materials on the planet has not radically altered. There are living things that we call life, and there are non-living stuff which we call rocks, tools, buildings and so on. As a result of our greater understanding of matter, this distinction is now becoming blurred and is likely to usher in a new materials age: bionic people with synthetic organs, bones and even brains will be the norm. Just as we become more synthetic, so our man-made environment will change to become more lifelike; living buildings, and objects that heal-themselves are becoming a reality. This talk reviews the imminent changes to the material world that are coming our way.

Photo of Mark Miodownik

Mark Miodownik
Professor of Materials Science, University College London
5:00 p.m., Friday, 18th January 2013
Lecture Room 1, Thom Building
Department of Engineering Science
Parks Road, Oxford

Details of Professor Miodownik's biography and research interests can be found on the UCL website

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The Hirsch Lecture 2011 - Teacher CPD Workshop


The study of hybrid inorganic-organic frameworks is one of the most fashionable areas of materials science. These are crystalline phases containing both inorganic and organic structural elements, and since they can exhibit the functionality of both inorganic and organic materials they can have a diverse range of properties and show potential for applications in many areas. This presentation will focus on some aspects of our recent work on hybrid frameworks, including both nanoporous metal-oxide-frameworks and dense systems. Recent work on the mechanical properties of hybrid frameworks, their behavior under pressure, and amorphization will be discussed. We shall then examine some of the potential applications of dense hybrid frameworks in areas as diverse as magnetism, photoluminescence, and multiferroics.

Anthony K. Cheetham, FRS
Goldsmiths' Professor of Materials Science, University of Cambridge
5:00 p.m., Friday, 14th January 2011
Lecture Room 1, Thom Building
Department of Engineering Science
Parks Road, Oxford

Details of Professor Cheetham's research interests can be found on the University of Cambridge Department of Materials and Metallurgy website

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The Hirsch Lecture 2009 - Can We Make A Materials Difference To A Sustainable Energy Future?

Energy will undoubtedly be one of the defining issues of this century. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a measure of the quality of life developed by the UN Development Program and is composed of contributions from life expectancy, adult literacy, gross domestic product, etc. The correlation between HDI and energy consumption is very powerful and sets the agenda for an ever-increasing demand for fossil fuels in our world. Of course, as energy demand grows, so does the emission of greenhouse gases. To avoid potentially catastrophic consequences of such climate changes, the concentration of greenhouse gases (primarily CO2) must be stabilised at a level that is 'safe' for both society and the environment. To hold global greenhouse gas emissions constant - never mind reduce them - while the world's human development continues to grow is a daunting task, but one in which materials - defined in a broad sense - can play a pivotal role.

In this lecture, I will attempt to illustrate a direct materials link to the atmospheric CO2 emissions saving 'stabilisation wedge concept', as developed by Soclow and Pacala and others. I hope that such a perspective will illustrate the key materials challenges for meeting the world's energy needs over the next 50 years and, critically, limiting or stabilising our atmospheric CO2 levels. Concerning a definition of an emerging Energy Materials Science, I follow Sir Peter Hirsch (and Merton Fleming) in defining the relevant research activity in terms of materials structure, properties, processing and performance/applications. I would also add to this the science of synthesis, signifying the historical synergy with Chemistry in the development of Materials Science, most prominently at Oxford.

Peter Edwards, FRS
Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Oxford
5:00 p.m., Friday, 30th January 2009
Lecture Room 1, Thom Building
Department of Engineering Science
Parks Road, Oxford

Details of Professor Edwards' research interests can be found on the Chemistry department website

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CPD for PGCE Students

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Download PGCE Course Booklet(Word) (Please be aware that this is a large file -30Mb)

Download PGCE Course Booklet(pdf) (Please be aware that this is a large file -18Mb)

Download PGCE Course Welcome Address(ppt)

Download PGCE Course Plenary (ppt)

Download Biomaterials Talk (ppt)

Download Damage Characterisation Talk (ppt)

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PGCE course
This activity has been developed for students from Oxford University Department of Education and Oxford Brookes University Department of Education. The course comprises a short presentation on Materials Science; short presentations on some current research in materials science; a demonstration of a range of practical and investigative activities and an opportunity for "hands-on" experience.

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photo of Enthalpy experiment
Enthalpy of Crystallisation
This activity shows how enthalpy changes depend upon the crystal structures of solids. It uses two forms of sucrose - granulated sugar (regular crystal structure) which dissolves endothermically, and amorphous sugar in the form of a Fox's glacier mint, which dissolves exothermically.

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photo of Goo experiment
Viscous Goo Challenge
This simple experiment is fun for everyone and is often used as "entertainment" in science clubs, Open Days or end of year activities. However in this format it is used as a science investigation by linking observation to numerical values. This is not intended to be a thorough piece of investigative work, but is used to illustrate scientific principles in an entertaining way. There are several levels at which this can be approached depending on the ability of the class that will carry out the investigation.

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phot of Electrolysis experiment
Reactivity Series and Corrosion
Pupils are assumed to have performed displacement reactions, to have concluded that some metals are more reactive than others, and to have also learned that these displacement reactions involve the oxidation of a reactive metal and reduction of the ions of the least reactive metal. Since oxidation and reduction in these cases involves the transfer of electrons and that moving electrons constitute an electrical current, it should be possible to use electrical methods to determine numerically if a metal is more reactive than another. We need to determine the energy driving the reaction and the term associated with electrical energy is the volt. We will, therefore, set up some simple cells and connect the metals via a voltmeter to measure the electrical potential (an energy related term measured in volts). It is predicted that the order of the voltages measured will match the observations from displacement reactions.

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Photo of Gel Cell experiment
An Electrifying Experience
This activity emulates voltaic piles in making electrochemical cells, but avoids the problems of dealing with liquids by encapsulating them in gels. This means that the effects of factors such as surface area can be investigated, making for a much more open investigation. Aims: 1. To show that an electric current can flow when different metals are connected via an electrolyte. 2. To show that this leads to corrosion of the metals involved.

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Photo of Tensile Test experiment
Tensile Testing
This refers to stretching a specimen at a constant strain rate and recording the measured load required for that strain. A perfectly elastic material would be expected to produce a graphical plot of stress v strain which is a straight line, ending suddenly with a brittle failure. This occurs as bonds between neighbouring atoms are stretched to the point of breaking. When a bond does break, it puts extra load on the remaining bonds, making them more likely to break. A crack starts to run across the material at this point and the material fails. A ductile material produces, by contrast a curve due to plastic deformation taking place. As load increases, atomic planes slide past each other causing physical distortion of the specimen and simultaneously relieving the stress. Thinning of the specimen in one position (called necking) occurs. In this localised area, however, the stress does continue to increase (due to reduction of cross sectional area) which concentrates the plastic deformation in this area. Most materials experience a combination of the two behaviours, with an elastic region followed by a plastic region. Variations can be introduced through different heat treatments and alloying.

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IOP course for teachers April 2008

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Download Tensile Testing Resource

Download Materials Science Teaching Resources

This short course was specifically designed to introduce teachers of Physics to the Tensile Test Masterclass offered by the department to any interested schools. Full details of the masterclass are contained in the resource booklet. Essentially, the masterclass gives an opportunity to A-level Physics students to use University equipment to carry out investigations of hardness, tensile strength and microstructure on samples of different steels. High quality data can be obtained which can be used in school for investigations into physical properties of materials.

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