Diamond Light Source is a particle accelerator near Harwell, Didcot. The synchrotron accelerates electrons to near light speeds so that they give off light ten billion times brighter than the sun. It is used by over six thousand visiting scientists per year from both from academia and industry who study everything from fragments of ancient paintings to fossils, from jet engines to unknown virus structures. As part of their ongoing education and out-reach program, Diamond staff, Mark Basham and Claire Murray engaged with board game designer and now former research scientist, Matthew Dunstan to produce Diamond: The Game.
|– Image from diamond.ac.uk|
Matthew Dunstan is probably best known for Elysium (nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2015), but also designed/co-designed Chocolate Factory, Pioneer Days, Monumental and Relic Runners. As a graduate student at Cambridge, he was also interested in structural chemistry and was familiar with Diamond Light Source. The value of gaming and play in general and as tools for learning and social development are well known, and there are many games with a science education element, including Periodic, Compounded, Inhabit the Earth, ION, and Evolution (the last of which was the subject of a publication in Nature).
|– Image from twitter.com|
Diamond: The Game1 is a bit different to these, however, as it was specifically aimed at secondary school students (aged 11–18). The game was intended to enable them to explore the broad variety of science carried out at Diamond, scientific careers and the experiences of being a scientist. To increase student engagement and attainment, there was a specific emphasis on linking curriculum and classroom learning to scientific applications and the real-life careers available in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. The initial release was delayed thanks to the global pandemic, so a “print and play” version was released in 2020 with a lighter variant aimed at primary school children. Schools that would like a hard copy can apply online.
|– Video by Paul Grogan|
1 Murray, C. et al., Res. for All, (2022), 6(1); doi:10.14324/RFA.06.1.14.