On 27th June I was among a group of 22 Year 10 and 11 students who had the chance to experience life at Birmingham University as part of the University’s Physics Experience Week. During the week we had the opportunity to spend each day with a different research group: astrophysics, nuclear, particle physics, quantum, experimental and theoretical physics. The week included lectures, experiments, challenges and quizzes, activities to improve our science communication skills as well as fun activities.
We were all slightly anxious on our first day, but the lecturers made everyone feel comfortable. We broke the ice by solving problems during the morning, and by working as a team we all felt more confident in each other’s company. We spent the afternoon taking a tour around the University’s Cyclotron and the state-of-the-art CT scanners.
We learned about the Hubble Constant and the discovery of gravitational waves to which the Birmingham research team had contributed. Particle physics and basic quantum mechanics are some of the most difficult areas of Physics, but the professors and PhD students there explained everything amazingly well. On our last day we put everything we had learned throughout the week into practice through a number of competitions focusing on nuclear, astro and particle physics themes. In the afternoon we had a “Fun with Physics” workshop which included the use of liquid nitrogen (and a different cloud chamber than most people are used to). By the end of the week my understanding of Physics had vastly improved and I had made some great friends.