Volunteering at the Ri

Two Ri volunteers, Anthony and Jenni, talk about their experiences of sharing their passion for science at our Family Fun Days.

Volunteer and young participant getting stuck in at an Ri Family Fun Day
Anna Gordon

At the Royal Institution, we hold a number of family events throughout the year and also go to conferences and school events around the country, including The Big Bang Fair and Cheltenham Science Festival.

We couldn’t do this without the support of our fantastic events volunteers who run activities and demonstrate experiments to young people and their families. Two volunteers from our last Family Fun Day, Life Fantastic, on Saturday 15 February share their experiences of volunteering at the Ri.    

Anthony Odongo

I first joined the Ri as a member in 2011 to experience how the science we learn in the classroom is applied in our daily life. I decided to volunteer because I thoroughly enjoy exploring and sharing my passion for science with others. The L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre at the Ri was evidently a good destination.

At the Ri, thousands of young people explore the wonders and applications of science every year. Over the last couple of years, I have seen young people and their parents excel at tasks while enjoying the fascinating world of science. My first role involved demonstrating the saccadic movement of the human eyes. The way that the young people were so excited and inspired to experiment with their parents was incredibly fulfilling. They even made videos for their own amusement!

On another occasion, I demonstrated the forces a body experiences during circular motion by getting participants to spin on a swivel chair with a spinning wheel in their hands. Guests were fascinated by the effect of inertia, the centripetal and impulse forces.

My most recent task at the last Family Fun Day was to help people identify and assemble the parts of human model organs and to describe how an eye operates in detail. Participants got very competitive so the atmosphere was really fun and engaging. 

All in all, volunteering at the Ri is a lot of fun, socially entertaining, interactive, and academically rewarding. Since volunteering at the Ri, I have joined Imperial College London as a PhD student, partly as a result of the self confidence and self-esteem the Ri inspired in me. I feel the Ri has driven me to learn more while guiding others through their learning.

I am very glad to have taken up this opportunity, and feel proud that I have helped children and young people to master concepts and develop their confidence in science. It has been quite phenomenal how many young people have been excited and have discovered something new at these Ri events. 

Jenni Visuri

I started volunteering at the Ri about two years ago. After doing a week of work experience with the Mathematics Masterclasses team, I was asked to help at the Family Fun Day on sport at the end of that week. Expecting it to be a relatively small event, I was surprised when it actually turned out to be large-scale, with lots of different people visiting and a wide range of activities. I enjoyed it so much that I asked to become a volunteer.

As an Ri volunteer, each time you help, you are assigned to an activity, and asked to explain it to children and adults. This is really interesting as you often get to help with activities that you can relate back to a particular area of science you are studying. You get to teach people something they didn’t know, and you also get a chance to apply your knowledge.

Each Family Fun Day has been very enjoyable and the tasks are always really fun too. At the most recent event I was showing children how to make origami frogs (instructions to the right). Having never made one before, I had to learn quickly, but I got so into it that I even made more when I got home!

Overall, being a volunteer has been one of the best experiences I have had because it has allowed me to discuss science, which I am passionate about, with lots of others who share that passion. 

If you are interested in volunteering at Ri events with the Programmes team, please download and fill out this Expression of Interest form and return it to ri@ri.ac.uk.