What is OxHOS?
Oxford Hands-On Science (OxHOS) is a student-run society based at the University of Oxford. We believe that science is fun and relevant to everyone! We aim to spread our enthusiasm for science to children and their families by taking lots of hands-on experiments drawn from a range of subject areas into schools and public venues, with lots of helpful student volunteers explaining the science behind the experiments!
OxHOS was founded in the summer of 2015 and we ran our first roadshow that autumn, visiting schools and community and shopping centres around Oxfordshire. Since then, we have expanded dramatically, developing new and exciting experiments and taken them on a roadshow each year to different parts of the country, ranging from the Isle of Wight to Manchester and the south of Wales! This year we’ve developed even more new and exciting hands-on experiments to take out to a whole new set of schools.
Who runs OxHOS?
The roadshow is organised by a team of science student volunteers who form the OxHOS committee. We work closely with public engagement staff at the University of Oxford, the Oxford colleges and other researchers around Oxford to share ideas and improve our work.
Lots of undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as some staff, from the University of Oxford volunteer their time to make our events happen. We offer volunteer training, given by experienced OxHOS members, alongside encouraging our volunteers to become STEM Ambassadors, in partnership with Winchester Science Centre.
After a big shopping spree for all our consumables on Sunday, 8 bright-eyed volunteers were ready for the first day of our roadshow. On the 24th of June, we visited New Marston Primary School, where 98 year 5-6 students joined us and got hands-on with lots of experiments, including the digestive system! Our new-for-2019 Plant Disease Detectives experiment proved to be engaging for the children this week. One young student shocked volunteers and teachers, knowing about ash dieback in Oxford’s own Wytham woods.
After repacking the minivan and gathering our camping equipment, the first group of volunteers headed out to Essex on Sunday. They set up camp at Bumpsteads Cottage near Chelmsford. Here they were met by some friendly, neighbourly cows and plenty of countryside. The first school we visited in Essex, was Great Baddow High School in Chelmsford on 1st July. Here we did our hands-on experiments with year 7 students and spoke to year 10 and 12 about the process of applying to university.
We drove up to Manchester on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with our new van filled to the brim with OxHOS Summer Roadshow 20198 experiments and camping kit. After a wrong turn turned into an extra hour and a half on the road for Tim, we eventually all reconvened at the campsite for our first dinner and a good sleep before the oncoming week. The first school we visited was Webster Primary School. We ran experiments with 10 classes in years 3- 6. On Tuesday we visited St. Agnes C.E. Primary School. We worked with 180 students from year 4-6 in 4 sessions of 45 students. Beta-testing the nematode -microscope experiment went well. The children were fascinated by what life exists beneath the soil.
What did our visitors think?
School events; To evaluate the contribution that the roadshow makes to students in schools, we ask teachers at each school to fill out questionnaires following our visit. This year, we have collected responses from 27 teachers and received unanimous positive feedback on our science fair. Teachers praised the demonstrators’ enthusiasm and the relevance of the experiments to the curriculum, as well as the health and safety standards maintained. They also stressed how much their pupils enjoyed the visit and were buzzing about it afterwards. We’re proud to say that all of the teachers would recommend us to other schools!
OxHOS also aimed to collect some feedback directly from the students participating in our sessions. At the end of a session, we would ask the classes: “are you more interested in science now, compared to before you came to our session?”. On their way out, they could then place a token in the “yes” or “no” bucket. Of the 508 student responses, 91% said yes! Volunteers; When students volunteer with OxHOS, they have an opportunity to practice their science communication skills, engage with enthusiastic young pupils and socialise with a passionate group of fellow scientists. We think it is important that our volunteers also have a great time on the roadshow, so this year we asked our volunteers “How likely are you to get involved with OxHOS in the future?” We are happy to say that all volunteers who responded are neutral, likely or very likely to be involved in future OxHOS events!
Can OxHOS visit us?
OxHOS visits schools and public events both in Oxfordshire and further afield in the UK during our flagship summer roadshows, mainly held during June/ July. If you are interested in a visit, request a visit through our website at www.oxhos.org or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
How is OxHOS funded?
OxHOS roadshows are made possible by the generous support of our sponsors; Royal Society of Chemistry, Hertford College University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Medical Sciences Division, Pembroke College Oxford, Christ Church and the BSPP. This financial support has made it possible for us to produce and run our interactive experiments, purchase camping equipment and hire vehicles without charging the schools a penny. This has enables our roadshow to travel to areas of the country where students may have less access to interactive science.