On Tuesday 20 June, thirty-five students from Year 11 and Year 12 attended the Physics Project Open Day hosted by the Imperial College London. Students attended two lectures by top university researchers. The first lecture was about the European Space Agency’s ‘Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer’ mission (JUICE) and the second lecture about Solar Power. In between lectures, our students explored hundreds of Physics projects displayed by first-year undergraduate students developed in partnership with researchers. Please see below a detailed account of the visit written by one of our Year 11 students.
It was a temperate Tuesday morning when 35 Year 11 and Year 12 Alperton students left for Imperial College London to attend a Physics Project Open Day. Not even the crowded and sweltering Piccadilly Line could quash the excitement. After some time walking, we finally arrived at the prestigious Physics campus. The air itself felt light, knowledge racing through it like delocalised electrons.
Imperial College London’s annual Physics Project Open Day aims to help aspiring young Physicists gain insight into the demands and expectations of reading Physics at a world-class institution. During the first year of studying at Imperial College, undergraduates partner with researchers to innovate and design a project within their chosen field such as electrical circuits or infrared astronomy. A showcase of these projects to fellow university students, staff and visitors, such as ACS students, makes for a thrilling event.
The day at Imperial began with a lecture on the potential existence of extraterrestrial life. We were told about the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE Project) and how a spacecraft launched on the 14th April 2023 studies three of Jupiter’s huge icy Galilean moons: Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. The project manager Vincent Poinsignon, described how “The goal is to investigate whether there are liquid oceans under these icy crusts which might harbour organic components or even life.” We learnt how this extraordinary project consisted of 11 scientific experiments, with a vital instrument having been built at Imperial College itself. It is astounding to think that this university, merely 7.4 miles away from school, is where life changing things happen.
The second part of the day invited us to scatter like billiard balls to the countless different projects that the undergraduates had been working on. The intricacy of the work was truly magnificent: ultrasonic levitators, liquid-mirror telescopes, self balancing gyroscopes, the construction of lasers, voice changers, even detecting muons – one of the fundamental subatomic particles. With more than a hundred projects to see and interact with, this treasure chest of learning was entrancing. Physics seemed as big and majestic as Space itself. We didn’t even feel hungry till we discovered we’d be getting a free lunch!
The day ended with a lecture on the Sun, and specifically, its sunspots which are temporary ‘spots’ which alter the amount of solar flares released by this ball of dust and gas. This has made scientists theorise that sunspots may be a natural cause of climate change. Alperton’s inspired young Physicists then split into smaller groups, some of whom stayed for a while longer at the university to learn from even more projects whilst others enjoyed a final stop in the surroundings of the university campus, including Hyde Park where the students were able to bond on their final day together before the holidays.
It is one thing learning about a subject from a textbook, but something completely different when you actually see it happen before your very eyes. A huge thanks to Mr Lazaroo who led and coordinated this trip alongside Mr Raj and Ms Khalil. This truly was an imperial march that Alperton Community School took to this outstanding university and it has inspired many students to study Physics in greater depth. As a friend of mine exclaimed after the first lecture, “This is what life is about!”
-Tariq Al-Azzawi, 11P-