A-level students from across the country were able to see science on a grand scale during visits to Diamond on 16th-18th March. They joined nearly 6,000 other students from 23 countries across the world taking part in annual Particle Physics Masterclasses this month.
The aim of the Masterclasses is to inspire students to go on to take up careers in science and technology. In the UK, events are coordinated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Science in Society team.
“It’s thanks to my physics teacher that I’m interested in the subject,” says 19 year old Lauren Hudson from Bulmershe School near Reading (pictured second from the right with her class mates). “He’s really enthusiastic and showed me how interesting physics can be. Visiting Diamond has been amazing. It really shows you the extent of what you can do. After my A-levels I’m going to study physics at university and I hope to be a physicist one day.”
Demand for the Particle Physics Masterclasses at RAL this year was high. RAL’s Senior Manager for Education and Public Outreach Jo Lewis says, “We had over twice as many schools applying to attend than there were places available. Pupils from the 29 schools involved had a fantastic time. They fed back that it was a useful and interesting event, and were very grateful to have the opportunity to meet real scientists face-to-face. Our physicists have really enjoyed interacting with the students, answering their questions and hopefully inspiring them to go on to study and work in physics in the future.”
Alex Hedges (pictured left looking at a sextupole magnet) is studying all three sciences for his A-levels at Cokethorpe School in Witney, he says, “I’ve always been interested in physics. I’m hoping to stay on at university after my degree and maybe do a PhD. The visit today has been a great insight into what’s involved in being a scientist.”
The Particle Physics Masterclasses originated in the UK at RAL in 1998. The events now take place in March every year in countries all around the world, including the USA, South Africa and Brazil.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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