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Physics Student Attends Sutton Trust Summer School Programme

This is a post detailing the happenings and experiences I’ve obtained by participating in the Sutton Trust Summer School Programme.

First of all, I shall start by saying that the Summer School I applied and was given a place in  was Cambridge University. Applying to the Summer School isn’t that complicated, it only requires for you to fill the form they have for you in the Sutton Trust Website and a reference from a good and trustworthy teacher teaching your subject of choice.

Now, I wouldn’t say that attending the summer school was life changing, it might be for some, but it was certainly useful. For example, it changed my point of view about university life and the subject of physics as a whole. It gave me confidence to tackle hard problems and it certainly sharpened my physics senses. It made me understand that everything is connected and most importantly allowed me to see that getting things wrong is not a minus but a plus.

When I first arrived at the University, I expected a fun week of discovery; what I didn’t know was that they were going to give me what I call the full physics experience. (Photo of Dorms Below) (Churchill College)Me and the other applicants got to meet the physics teacher and had a lesson the second day we were there. The classroom we had our lesson was big enough to accommodate around 50 people (Photo below). The lessons were about 1 hr and 30 mins long, with 20 min breaks in between. I covered 3 different topics whilst studying in Cambridge, Rotational Mechanics, Special Relativity and Kinematics. 2 of the topics, we covered in our lessons whilst Special Relativity being relatively new. 

The main highlight of the lessons weren’t the teachings themselves but the questions we had to do on Isaac Physics. From Level 1 to 6, it was certainly hard considering that they only gave us 20 mins to finish each set of questions, with each set providing different ways of using the stuff we were taught about; the ones we didn’t finish ending up as homework for Thursday of the same week. We didn’t just do the questions to increase the scope of our physics abilities but also for the teachers there to point out the problems with our layout, information we should be considering, and other ways to solve a problem.

The questions were hard but they were in my opinion very enjoyable to do, and it’s not like we spent all time on classes. We also went to see the satellites that cambridge PHD students used to do their projects (on a side note, they were spectacular), and we were explained how they were used to monitor and see beyond what we can see of the sky. (Photo Below) We also did a lecture on Earth Sciences, which I might be considering for my 3rd option if I get accepted into Cambridge University, went Punting, explored the other colleges comprising Cambridge University, received guidance for applications and bursaries, had a formal dinner and more.It’s not like my time there was full of doing stuff, I also had free time. I used this time to explore the college I was residing in, Churchill College and socialised and played with friends that I made there. Talking about friends, I’m not a socially awkward person, I just find it hard to find people with the same interests as me, so I went to summer school thinking that I would have to pass it without talking to anyone; I was wrong. Whilst studying there, I made connections with incredible people, with incredible mindsets and incredible personalities. For example, one of the friends I made was able to finish all 21 questions, 7 of them being level 6 questions on isaac physics in the limited given for students to do the work. How incredible is that?  The last day, we had a tutorial session, a session where around 2 to 3 people together, meet with their supervisors and talk about the questions they tackled on lessons. That was stressful, talking with someone who’s at the top of their field about questions you failed to answer or laid out badly is awkward, but very useful.

Overall, the Summer School has provided me with skills I never dreamt of having and confidence to face hard questions and develop not only as a physicist but a better person. So if someone asked me if I recommended the summer school, I’d say yes, if you have the opportunity to do it, grab it, because whilst it’s certainly not life changing, it’s indeed a game changer for many.

Thank you for reading this. 

Kind regards,

L. H.

 

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