On Monday, 9th February 2015, LIS volunteers Ekrem and Feyza successfully carried out our third public engagement event, “The beauty of Lotus: waterproof your life” at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls. After many weeks of serious planning and polishing to make the presentation as innovative as possible, the big day was finally here.

As the event title suggests, the workshop was based around the Lotus plant and explaining the Lotus effect which allows its hydrophobic leaves to stay waterproof, as well as giving pupils an introduction to the constantly evolving field of nanotechnology. The pupils were then given a range of materials to demonstrate the theory behind hydrophobic surfaces by using pipettes to insert water droplets onto the samples prepared in the laboratory. The feeling of achievement when pupils responded with exclamations of “whoa” when they saw the effect of the hydrophobic materials was incredible! The activities worked very well in giving pupils a sense of satisfaction and allowing them to understand the subject matter in depth. After seeing the effects of hydrophobic surfaces which the pupils found intriguing, the focus was back on the Lotus plant’s amazing micro- structure to explain how such non- wetting materials were made.  This neat link between the structure of plant leaves and man- made materials gave pupils an insight into how nature influences science in more ways than we can imagine.

The presentation was repeated consecutively for two separate year nine groups. Although the second group was more enthusiastic and responsive than the first, both seemed to enjoy the activities and the feedback confirms this. All students said they enjoyed the activity and found it “inspiring” and “fun”. Most students said they would “recommend the activity to their friends”! What more could we have asked for?

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