RNC has good vibrations!

Avram and Nicole are sitting at a table; one of the scientists is holding a balloon and a can. There are other balloons and pieces of tactile equipment on the table.

Today is National Physics Day, and at RNC (Royal National College for the Blind), we celebrate by taking a look back at a very positive physics day we hosted on campus last term!


The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator which consists of a 27 kilometre ring of superconducting magnets which is situated 50-175 metres underground, with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way.


The aim of the Tactile Collider project is to give people with visual impairment a way to access the LHC; making science accessible. The Tactile Collider project has developed a fully immersive experience which guides participants through the particle content of the universe using sights, sound and touch. This 90 minute experience revolves around a 3.5 metre tactile model accelerator named CASSIE (Conceptual Accelerator Supporting Scientific Inclusive Education) where students can touch and feel the different surfaces and components.


People taking part in the experience visit four different stations where they interact with different scientists who explain the meaning of objects, explaining four central ideas in particle physics;

  • How everything is made out of particles.
  • How magnets are used to steer and focus beams.
  • How particles are accelerated around a ring.
  • How scientists discovered the Higg’s Boson.


When the Tactile Collider project came to RNC we had three separate sessions delivered by physicists from different UK universities, attended by 29 of our students and 11 members of RNC staff. Nicola Smith, RNC’s Head of Learning and Curriculum, says “The feedback from students and staff was extremely positive, particularly regarding the effort taken to produce all the tactile resources, the reading materials to meet each students’ needs and the content of the delivery.”


Chris Edmonds, a Physics Lecturer at the University of Liverpool, and founding member of the Tactile Collider project, said “I’ve spoken to a lot of people who thought science wasn’t for them, and we wanted to show that it could be.” As part of their research, the Tactile Collider project team spoke to students across the country to get to know more about some of the barriers to learning faced by students with visual impairment.


Jack Morris, 17 from Bolton, who is now a student at RNC, came up with the idea of using soundscapes and now they are using this as part of their project. Jack says “I had the idea after playing a game on my phone which was around sounds where you could hear yourself move. I was really excited to hear that the project had used my idea about the sound because I really wasn’t expecting it, the actual machine is way underground in Switzerland and so it was really cool to actually hear the sounds from there.”

Ciaron Naughton, 17 from Luton, says “I really enjoyed the day, it was presented really well and in an accessible way. I learned a lot about particles and magnets which was really interesting and it’s prompted me to find out more so I’ve been watching videos about the Hadron Collider online.”


Tim Broome, RNC’s Student Recruitment Manager, says “It’s great that projects like Tactile Collider are working so hard to make science accessible. Moving forwards we hope that projects like this are rolled out more with specialist teachers in primary and secondary schools so that youngsters have the chance to learn about science and develop an interest in it earlier.”


Visit RNC

If you would like to find out more about RNC; The UK’s leading Further Education College for people with visual impairment, call our Student Enquiries Team on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk


Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC


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