Brad Gibson addresses a classroom of children


From farts to moon rocks - University of Hull professor inspires next generation of scientists

A University of Hull Physics Professor has made his 1,000th visit to a school in the region after notching up a list of 100 schools hooked on his space talks.

Professor Brad Gibson started making the visits seven years ago in a bid to boost recruitment, but he found he enjoyed making them so much, he dedicated more and more time to them, expanding their reach into nursery and primary schools through to retired-age students across the country.

Although, recruitment is no longer Prof Gibson’s primary driver, his analysis of students recruited to study Physics & Astronomy at the University of Hull suggest his visits have a lasting impact.

Seven years ago, around 15 per cent of students studying Physics came from a college the University of Hull had a relationship with - now that number is around 50 percent.

Impressively, the UK analysis of students taking up Physics at A-Level shows the greatest increase in those studying the subject outside of London to be those based within the Yorkshire and Humber region. It is up an impressive 17% between 2017 and 2021, as per the Government’s Explore Education Statistics dataset. While Prof Gibson would not claim credit for that growth alone, the work of he and his team and their 1,000 events have no doubt contributed. Professor Gibson alone has reached around 70,000 pupils.

Brad Gibson addresses a classroom of children

His 1,000th visit was made today (Wednesday, October 18) to Thoresby Primary School, the seventh time he has visited the West Hull school since 2019, helping him reach a total of around 70,000 pupils.

Prof Gibson said: “I really like it when I manage to maintain a relationship with a school because you get to see children progress and you can really help build their imaginations and knowledge.”

He focuses on visiting schools that draw large numbers of pupils who are living in deprived communities because he wants to bring them opportunities.

Prof Gibson often takes undergraduates with him, and wherever possible he takes students who have grown up in challenging circumstances, so they can help him inspire the next generation of scientists.

He said: “It feels like important work. I can see the excitement on their faces as I walk in and they are eager to learn, which is very rewarding for me. It all started because I wanted to improve recruitment and I was prepared to play the long game, but as it has gone on, it got deeper than that. It is critical to give children access to opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have in society. I try and show them that science can be an exciting career.”

Almost every week he is stopped in the street by a student or a parent who want to thank him for sharing his knowledge. He has a range of topics that he talks about depending on whether he is speaking to nursery students or sixth formers.

So, he could be talking about the incredible fart-smelling cloud which inhabits the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy, the search for alien life, or the technologies such as WiFi and X-ray scanners which have developed through the study of outer space. And as a bonus, lucky children also get to hold a piece of the Moon in their hands at these events.

Professor Gibson is always looking to add new schools into his travels, so any, and all should contact him at to arrange a free visit from him and his team!

Three fun facts about Physics

  • The smelliest thing in space might be the enormous gas cloud at the centre of our Milky Way... it's filled with H2S (hydrogen sulfide - not H2O, but kind of similar)... H2S is what makes your farts really stink! Every person on Earth would have to fart every second for the next hundred million, million years to make the same amount of fart smell that exists in this gas cloud!
  • The loudest thing in space just might be the Sun - we can't hear it from here, but if you could get close to it, it would be louder than a trillion screaming children!
  • The scariest thing in space to me is a star called Gliese 710, it is racing straight towards us at 30,000 miles per hour. In one million years, it is going to pass through our solar system and shake loose millions of comets which are going to rain down on top of us. The sky will look very, very different as it will be covered with comets, rather than stars, and all it will take is one of these millions of comets to hit us for it to extinguish life on Earth!

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