Girls in Science visit Oxford’s Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory


Assistant Head, Sixth Form and Biology teacher Mrs SarahJane Newland writes about a recent visit taken by some of our girl GCSE Scientists: 

Science in Your Future is a careers event designed to give female GCSE students the opportunity find out more about different careers available to them if they choose to progress with work or study in the field of science. The day included a series of interactive workshops, run by scientists and engineers and the opportunity to speak to people from other organizations that support maths, science, computing and engineering over a lunch time networking fair.

When we arrived we demonstrated our engineering prowess by building a house from the leaflets that were handed out and then had a very interesting and inspiring talk from Dr Ceri Brenner, who is a plasma physicist working at the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory. Then we moved across to the Diamond Light Source building for some workshops with IBM, where we debated how technology could enhance our 5 senses in the future and Jemima came up with a novel idea for a soundless alarm.

Afterwards we moved into a room with 3 neurobiology PhD students, from the Medical Research Council at Harwell, who were working on neurobehavioural genetics, neurological diseases and deafness. We found out about our sleep patterns, what happens when the light coming into our eyes is defracted and how mice learn to avoid obstacles.

At lunchtime there were lots of stalls from scientific companies offering apprenticeships and other opportunities and we got to participate in a data sharing project to identify viral particles. Then we had a tour of the Diamond Light Synchotron, which accelerates electrons around a huge circular tube, to nearly the speed of light. They are allowed to spin off and create very powerful X rays which are used for all sorts of scientific projects, from working out protein structure, to scanning dinosaur eggs.

The final workshop was to build and race our own solar powered cars. Abi and Amelia’s car moved pretty fast but veered off piste and crashed, followed shortly afterwards by the other groups’ vehicle.