Last week the School of Mathematics and Physics hosted 5 work experience students from Lincoln University Technical College, Branston Community Academy and William Farr.
The aim of the week was to give a taste of what it would be like to study Mathematics or Physics at the University of Lincoln (or elsewhere), and for the students to gain some experience related to working in a university.
On Monday the students were given a tour of the University of Lincoln campus and the Isaac Newton Building in which the School of Mathematics and Physics is based. We also gave the students a very useful talk about the university application process and finances.
“We received some insightful information about how to make your
application stand out from other applications, how to know how much money you
will receive from loans and how to use student loans when living independently.”
On Monday afternoon, the students met some of the academic staff who introduced themselves and spoke briefly about their careers and research interests. Finally, the students were shown the scanning electron microscope.
On Tuesday the students attend a workshop with Dr Claire McIlroy who spoke to them about types of flow, how fluid properties can lead to interesting flow phenomena, and how to describe this behaviour mathematically. In the afternoon the students performed experiments: by filming a droplet detaching from a faucet, the students were able to measure the viscosity of a range of fluids, including honey, ketchup and oil.
“Using a measuring tool in ImageJ we measured the diameter of the bridge of the fluid (the
bridge is the part of the drop that gets smaller and smaller as it falls). We
collected a series of pictures of a single drop just before it exits a pipette
and at each point we measure the diameter of the fluid. Combining these results with the theory we saw in the morning, we calculated the viscosity of the fluid.”
On Wednesday morning the students joined Dr Matt Booth to discuss quantum physics and quantum mechanics, touching on wave-particle duality, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and even the Schrödinger equation! In the afternoon the students visited the undergraduate laboratory and performed some related experiments, including the diffraction of electrons by graphite.
” Overall on I thoroughly enjoyed Wednesday as I was able to see the theory and maths behind quantum mechanics but also experiments that can be used to demonstrate these effects.”
Thursday was astrophysics with Dr Phil Sutton, who introduced the idea of exotic planets orbiting multiple stars, which has previously been left purely to science fiction. However, scientists have now discovered such worlds. The students learned about recent discoveries and discussed them in the context of potential life. In the afternoon, the students were tasked with accessing the exoplanet archive data for over 5000 confirmed exoplanets and using Matlab to probe which exoplanets are most likely to host exomoons.
“Phil explained two of the main methods for examining exoplanets and the advantages and disadvantages of the methods – Radial velocity and Transit. Transits is the more efficient method for finding exoplanets; however a combination of both methods is needed to find the
mass and length of the orbit.”
On Friday the students were given a tour of some student accommodation, which was very interesting. Then, to finish off the week, they were taken for lunch and then asked to write a blog style report about their week.
“This week was very fun and informative about what student life is like
but also how to work up to a level that the professors and lecturers achieved. This week has
definitely helped me make a decision on whether to go to university but has also helped
me to expand my knowledge and has given me a wider view on my future and where university
could take me.”
Reblogged this on Lincoln Astrophysics Team.