White Rose Physics Work Experience | Newsletter

In July, I took part in the White Rose Work Experience Week, which was hosted by the universities of York, Leeds and Sheffield and involved engaging in academic research for a week during the summer holidays. Despite being online, the programme offered meetings with academics and informative sessions on studying physics at undergraduate level, and it was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn more about the subject.

At the beginning of the week, we were given the chance to choose an area of physics to study, and were then paired with an academic who guided us through the topic during virtual meetings. There were a range of topics on offer, such as astrophysics and medical physics, but I chose to research the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment. This allowed me to explore quantum mechanics, which is not taught as part of the A-Level curriculum, so I was able to develop the ability to learn independently throughout the week. Although this was a challenge, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn something outside the syllabus and delve into a topic of my choosing. We then had to compile our research into an A3 academic poster, which required referencing different sources and presenting our findings in a 3-minute pitch to a panel of other students and lecturers.

Interspersed throughout the week were academic webinars hosted by lecturers, which provided us with some ideas of what a physics degree at university might entail. One webinar was a data analysis session themed around astrophysics, which brought together aspects of both mathematics and physics. This was followed by a Q&A session, which allowed us to learn more about the course and admissions process. Being able to speak to lecturers and the head of department at each of these universities made me more confident about the process of applying to university and secure in my decision to study physics beyond Year 13.

After spending four months in lockdown, this week was more than just work experience. For me and a hundred other 17-year-olds across the UK, it was a chance to finally engage with students and lecturers after months of studying alone at home, and it was the perfect reminder of what we are all working toward as aspiring physicists.

Jennah Hussain, Y13