The science being carried out in one of the deepest mines in Europe and its use in educating young York physicists was the focus for a group of physics teachers from York and the surrounding area this week.
The teachers ventured 1,100 metres below the surface of the earth to visit the Boulby Underground Science Facility, based at the Boulby potash mine. The mine is situated on the North Yorkshire coast near Loftus in East Cleveland, and is owned and operated by Cleveland Potash Limited.
The Boulby Underground Science Facility is the only underground laboratory in the UK, and one of only a few deep underground science sites in the world. The facility (operated by the UKs Science and Technology Facilities Council – STFC) hosts the UK’s Dark Matter Search Project. This project is looking for the missing mass in the universe, alongside other projects such as studies of geology, climate, the environment, life on Earth and beyond.
Among the York teachers and educators were David Morris and Mark Robinson from St Peter’s School, Andrew Rogerson, the IOP Teacher network coordinator for York and Katherine Leech, who is the Outreach Officer for York University Physics Department. They were joined by teachers from Yarm School, Ampleforth College, Pocklington School, Selby High School, Queen Margaret’s School and the Mount School.
David Morris, who organised the trip, said:
It really was an experience of a lifetime, both to see a working mine in full operation and also to witness the extraordinary science that is taking place so deep under Yorkshire, where cosmic radiation levels are reduced by a factor of a million.
Dr Sean Paling, who manages the facility, said:
We are an internationally recognised science facility involved in a diverse range of exciting and world-leading scientific studies. We really want to make sure we are doing the best we can to make our work useful to local and regional education.
This is just the latest visit aimed at raising the bar when it comes to science education in the region. Educators from the Durham and Whitby areas have already been underground to see the facility for themselves and to consider how the work at Boulby can be used to encourage and educate potential next-generation scientists in the region.