Throughout this year, a team of Y11, Y12 and Y13 students have been analysing data collected by the ATLAS detector of the large hadron collider at CERN as part of a collaborative research project with Oxford University and the Institute of Research in Schools. Their research was selected as some of the best in the country and as a result four of the students - Sula (Y11), Elika, Kalle and Alex (Y12) - were invited to share their findings at a conference in Oxford on Monday and Tuesday this week.
It was a jam packed two days! The students presented their work at two poster sessions to professors from the Physics department, researchers from CERN, graduate students and students from other schools. The students spoke confidently about their work and were praised for their clear and striking poster with its detailed method and experimental aims. In another workshop, they carried out an analysis of three academic papers published on other experiments at CERN. Despite the highly technical nature of the papers, the students were able to draw out the main findings and will hopefully use this experience to write up their own research as part of the conference proceedings (watch this space!).
Less challenging, but arguably even more interesting, were two talks by leading academics - one on the European Extremely Large Telescope under construction in Chile and the second on the Physics of Life and how physicists and engineers are developing ways to produce self-evolving vaccines and regenerating limbs. There was also the opportunity to carry out some undergraduate practicals in the labs and to discuss the different routes into physics research and related career paths.
The experience of staying at Merton College and dining in the same hall where JRR Tolkein had once eaten was the icing on the cake and overall the students felt they gained a lot from the experience. In their own words:
“Staying at Merton has made me even more impatient to go to uni!”
“The whole experience gave me a really good idea of what the whole of student life really looks like and what it can lead to”
“It was incredibly inspiring to meet some top physicist and hear from two working in such different fields that one day I could be a part of.”
“It was very interesting to actually do physics at Oxford!”
Next year we are hoping to extend our research projects into Biology and Environmental Science as well as Physics. If you want to know more about the research we are doing here at CSG or want to get involved, come and see Ms Goldsmith, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.