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Digital Ambassadors FACT Liverpool STEAM Broken Symmetries

Does time travel exist and will solar power save our planet?

by FACT

Blog, Learning, Art and Science

Part of the Winter 2018 season

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The Digital Ambassadors (FACT's creative and digital programme for older adults) have been working closely with physicists from The University of Liverpool to demystify the world of science and find out how physics is occurring in our everyday lives.

Inspired by Broken Symmetries, the group have been exploring particle and nuclear research and how bringing the subjects of art and science together can create a new kind of holistic learning. Art has acted as a catalyst for conversations and enabled the group to join - and lead on - a scientific discussion between themselves and physicists from The University of Liverpool.

But where does physics research happen? In October, the Digital Ambassadors visited The University of Liverpool’s Department of Physics where they were shown around laboratories, given hands-on access to special equipment and explored the direct link between Liverpool and CERN (Geneva, Switzerland).

Home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, CERN exists to help uncover what the universe is made of and how it works. By working with physicists all over the world, including at The University of Liverpool, they advance the boundaries of human knowledge and develop technologies such as the internet and treatment of cancer.

Digital Ambassadors FACT Liverpool STEAM Broken Symmetries
Digital Ambassadors FACT Liverpool STEAM Broken Symmetries

After the visit, the Digital Ambassadors hosted a group discussion at FACT to discuss what they had learnt which led to many questions...

"Is time travel possible?"

"Is space infinite?"

"How do you measure the temperature of the sun?"

"Will solar power save the planet?"

These questions were pivotal for the group following their visit and helped them to gain a deeper understanding of how physics works, it’s everyday applications and theoretical future possibilities. Taking their initial findings further, the Digital Ambassadors watched several short films provided by the Department of Physics at The University of Liverpool and began to think about how they could create an exhibition tour of Broken Symmetries that would be accessible and of interest to their peers.

For the next session the group were reunited with two physicists who they had met during their visit to the laboratories. They posed their questions to the physicists and began a conversation about scientific findings and how the group felt these linked to politics, to their everyday lives and to art itself. As well as the discussion, the group got hands-on with a mobile app called AcceleratAR - an augmented reality digital particle accelerator - which had been designed by one of the physicists.

Armed with scientific information and equipped with particle physics knowledge, the group visited the Broken Symmetries exhibition. Discussing their experience, the Digital Ambassadors felt that their group visits and discussions had given them the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of the artworks presented. They spoke in depth to artist Yunchul Kim about his time at CERN and how he had created and developed his work, Cascade.

Concluding their STEAM-powered (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) season of learning, the Digital Ambassadors led an exhibition tour to their peers in the Young at Art network (a project led by FACT, Open Eye Gallery and National Museums Liverpool). Sharing knowledge, ideas and raising new questions, the group’s biggest interest was of the term ‘experts of knowledge’. They have since continued to question who really is an ‘expert’ and how knowledge is never fully completed or achieved within the subjects of art and science. The project has broadened their mindsets, provided a toolkit for stimulating conversations and sparked an interest in topics they may not have approached otherwise.

Young at Art is supported using National Lottery funds by Arts Council England and The Baring Foundation.

Interested in becoming a Digital Ambassador?

Contact us on 0151 7074416