Today marks the end of this year’s Headstart Summer School, where A-Level students descend on the university to get a feel of what it’s like to be a natural sciences or physics student here. As one of the volunteers, I’ve spent the last week building rockets, studying meteorites, identifying bacterial DNA strands and much much more!
After formal introductions to the university and the degree programmes, we gave a tour of Oadby Student Village, followed by presentations on what it’s like to be an undergraduate. This set the stage for the first full day of activities, featuring a murder mystery lab, a campus tour (including the obligatory riding over the top of the paternoster!), and lectures on nanotechnology, forensic science, and perhaps most exciting an overview of x-ray astronomy from one of the pioneers of the field, Professor Ken Pounds. The following day we set off to the National Space Centre, where the students studied the biology, chemistry and physics involved in blasting humans out beyond the atmosphere, and how meteorites can be used to reveal the history of the solar system. This led neatly into Thursday’s activities in studying extremophiles and the chances of finding such organisms throughout the solar system, learning plenty of biology lab techniques along the way! From presentations by PhD students on what it’s like to work in research, to a fieldtrip to the MIRA Technology Park, it felt like a great introduction for those thinking about university, and despite ending each day completely exhausted, it was great to be a part of!