ABOUT 500 school and college students helped to kick-start a new annual celebration.
The students made up the audience in the first of a series of young people’s Christmas lectures at the University of Portsmouth.
The Christmas lecture series aims to bring new subjects to life in an educational and entertaining way for children aged eight to 18.
Experts on dinosaurs and the science of sport all spoke to the students.
About 200 primary school pupils heard dinosaur expert Dr Dave Martill in the first lecture.
Dr Martill took children on a dinosaur-hunting expedition in the Sahara Desert to find out what dinosaurs ate, how they survived and why they disappeared almost completely over 60 million years ago.
He delivered a second lecture on the science behind fossil hunting to about 120 sixth formers.
Pupils also heard from Dr Chris Mills, Professor Mike Tipton and Dr Richard Thelwell about the science behind sport.
It gave pupils a glimpse of how much elite sport relies on science, especially in optimising the performance of an individual athlete.
Dr Mills, a gymnast who has competed at high level, talked about the physics behind high-performance sport.
Professor Tipton is an expert in, among other things, human survival in extreme temperatures. He is regularly consulted by television documentary and film producers working on stories about survival and news journalists following tragedies at sea. He talked about what happens to our bodies in extreme environments.
Dr Thelwell is an expert in the psychology of coaching and winning in sport and discussed what science knows about how great coaches think and perform.
The Christmas lecture series is being arranged and managed by the university’s education liaison and outreach team and the science faculty’s public engagement and community outreach champion Dr Darren Gowers.
The education liaison and outreach teams already run s an annual sports science lecture series for schools.