The Family Fun Day: a celebration of learning at Somerville College drew the crowds with plenty of fun and games on Saturday, as alumni returned with their families.

The Somerville grounds were transformed for the day into a miniature amusement park for children and teenagers while, inside the buildings, tutors offered interactive sessions about their subjects.

“I just wanted to say what a fantastic time we had at the Somerville Family Fun Day,” one visitor emailed to say afterwards. “It was hard to believe that you had never done one before as it was so well conceived and organized. My children (6 and 9) really enjoyed the various activities and the time passed in a flash.”

One of the star outdoor attractions was the Mad Scientist, who performed experiments in front of the library, setting items alight and making them disappear. The climax of her performance was the release of a rocket into the Oxford sky.

Other attractions included a Story Gnome, a bouncy castle, a climbing wall, archery and zorbing. There was also some high-grade face painting, and the 400 or so faces that attended the day left in varying states of recognisability.

Facing the future

The handful of tutors, however, made for a more familiar Somerville scene. Five Meet The Tutors sessions were held in College, allowing prospective students to hear about the college and the courses, and to ask their questions.

The five topical sessions hosted by tutors were: The Mathematics of Social Networks, The Very Loud Universe, Picturing Poetry, Harry Potter and the Professional Translator’s Total Nightmare, and Why History Matters. The success of their bid to inspire and motivate teenagers showed itself in good attendance – all five tutors drew high numbers, with some attracting more than 60 people.

Current undergraduate students were also on hand throughout the event to take guests on tours, answer their questions and talk first-hand about undergraduate life at Somerville. But it was not just the teenagers who enjoyed the day – parents were just as enthusiastic.

“I really appreciated being able to involve my family,” a second parent emailed to say. “We were blown away by the number and range of activities laid on – there really was something for all age groups (the archery was a real hit with all my boys!), and we were spoiled with the catering. To top it all, I managed to do some Christmas shopping – Santa will be delivering Somerville teddies this year!”

The day was made possible by a generous donation from a Somerville alumna. The College would appreciate anyone who attended filling out our brief online questionnaire. This was the first time the college has held the event and, should we be able to continue the event in future years, we would be keen to keep what works and to improve the day wherever we can.

Do also please take a moment to see photographs from the day.

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