Mr Alan Walker, a former lecturer in the School, has been awarded an Honorary Degree in recognition of his services to science education.
Alan first started in 1993 by working with schools and professional bodies on an individual basis but in 2001 he formalised this into the “SCI-FUN” roadshow. Here, a small team, with Alan as scientific advisor, constructed a set of 40-50 hands-on exhibits which could be taken on tour as a mobile science education centre. SCI-FUN has now visited over 600 sites throughout Scotland and the north of England, attracting over 200,000 members of the public.
Building on SCI-FUN’s success, Alan started the PP4SS (Particle Physics for Scottish Schools) project in 2004. His goal was to find a way to create a series of connected exhibits to describe the work being carried out at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and to introduce people to the discovery of particles from space, ‘cosmic rays’. The project developed exhibits to show the basic principles of particle accelerators, including real-time detection of cosmic ray muons. Alan’s innovation was the creation of small hands-on exhibits connected to a story and presented by enthusiastic science students. PP4SS has reached some 20,000 members of the public, including 2,500 school pupils, and there are now plans to take a version of the roadshow to India. He has also been heavily involved in publicly explaining the significance of the discovery of a Higgs-like Boson.
Alan is a regular participant at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, and has also been involved with an experiment to demonstrate Einstein’s relativistic time-dilation at the top of the Cairngorm mountain railway.
"Alan’s passion is education and through a sustained programme he has inspired an enormous number of people. He conveys excitement, but eschews showmanship. At a time when much science outreach has become superficial entertainment, Alan has remained committed to explanation, responding with unlimited patience to questions from anyone with a genuine desire for an answer." Prof. Arthur Trew, Head of the School of Physics & Astronomy