Faye Week 3

Day 11: Macaw Engineering

The start of my final week began with spending my entire morning trying to paint the face of my doll; I removed the old paint with nail varnish remover and tried to paint her on a new set of eyes and lips with acrylic paint. However, it took me several attempts to just get the outline right and a number of times of taking off the paint with more nail polish remover and repainting as I just couldn’t seem to get it right. Finally after two and a half hours I had successfully painted on her face and only had to then sew a new top. In the afternoon I was, thankfully, not working on my doll but at Makaw engineering. There we were told about the company and their new investment, drones. We were given the opportunity to have a little paly with the smaller drones and watch someone, much more highly trained, drive one of the larger ones. They all were surprisingly loud and sounded like a pack of angry wasps. To finish off we were given a talk by one of the founders of the company, where he told us much about his own experiences from doing Physics at university.

Day 12: Kromek

First thing in the morning of Tuesday we went to a company in Durham, Kromek. After talking to a nuclear physicist there we found the Kromek didn’t just focus on Nuclear power but also on security in airports and medical machines, like PET scans. We were given a tour of the labs there and given a task to look for radiation that was given off by salt and try to then work out what elements were in the salt because of the wavelengths of the gamma rays given off. We eventually found that it was KCl (Potassium Chloride). In the afternoon we were back at the Uni and were allowed to have a go at programming a Arduino to work a motor that we could use to attach either a musical instrument to or something that would play against an instrument, it was a lot harder than it sounds. For me the hardest part was getting enough movement for it to make a sound and to keep it balanced on the motor so it would continue to move without me holding it in place.

Day 13-15: Think Physics Lab

For the final three days we were tying up loosed ends on our projects, finishing off posters, reports, our dolls and trying to actually work our instruments! On our last day on the Friday we invited in our parents to come in for 2pm so we could show them all we had done over the three weeks.

My whole experience over the past three weeks has been amazing and I would definitely recommend it to others! It was unique and even though we did a lot over the three weeks it didn’t feel like work at all, despite having to get up early every morning.

Faye Week 2

Day 6: Bel Valves

Week two started with a morning trip to British engines or ‘Bel Valves’, that is about a 5 minute drive from the university. When we first got there we had a talk about what the company does and why valves are so important to the oil and gas industry. We then got into three small groups and had a discussion with one of the apprentices at Bel Valves and why they would recommend it. To finish off our visit to Bel Valves we were given a tour around the workshop floor and shown some of the huge valves that would be put under the seabed. Once we got back we had lunch and started work again at the university at 1, I wrote up my blog for the previous week and towards the end of the day my group, Melinda, Eleanor and I, had a chat with Emma about the project on Nepal and how we might go about it, which really helped with forming a better idea of how to come about the research and what to look for.

Day 7: Reece Innovation

The next day we were at REECE innovation in the morning, which is situated on Scotswood road, where the Armstrong factory used to be. We were given a talk about the company and how it started and then a discussion with Simone who had done a Physics degree and discussed with us what you can do with a Physics degree, which I found particularly interesting. We then toured the factory and looked at some of the testing that need to be done before they make a product for a company. In the afternoon we were taken back to the university to work on our projects and start to collect all of the information we would need to write up our reports that would eventually be condensed to put on an Academic poster. Through most of that afternoon I focused on looking at the relief that was given to Nepal by other countries.

Day 8–10: Think Physics Lab

On Wednesday morning we started off with continuing with our research from the previous day and then at about 10:30 we were invited to have a talk from Dr Robert Hilton from Durham university on earthquakes, the science of them and the effect in an LEDC country compared to in a MEDC country (Nepal and New Zealand). This talk I felt made me realise how much of a difference an earthquake can have on a country depending on how prepared and how developed they are. In the afternoon we went into the lab at think physics with one of the technicians and had a talk about acoustic waves and how damaging they can be.

Thursday morning started with us talking with Sarah about how to set up an academic poster and what we should think about putting on it. For the rest of the day we were allowed to continue with our research and I started to write up my report, I wrote about Nepal s demographics and geography and why earthquakes happen, I also started to think about how I was going to set out my academic poster. My group also decided that we were going to combine all of our information we collected and do our own posters on what we had all found.

To finish off the week we spent another day at the university, which I know sounds boring as we had not been out as much as we had in the first week but with all the research we were doing I didn’t mind it as it meant I could spend time collecting as much information as I could about an interesting subject. In the afternoon however we were doing something different again and went to one of the classrooms in the university. We had a talk with Carol that discussed gender stereotypes and society’s attitudes towards gender roles. For me this was a very interesting topic of discussion and I found getting into the discussion of how damaging these gender roles are to young people. We also discussed how we could try and encourage more girls to get into STEM subjects and if it was to do with influences from a young age such as the toys given and the stereotype that girls are good at English and boys are good at maths. To finish we were given Bratz dolls at were allowed to change them into how we wanted in an attempt to make them look less sexualised  and perhaps what a young girl might prefer to play with.

Charlotte – Week Three

Monday – Our final week began with yet another trip! This trip consisted of flying (and crashing) mini drones at Macaw. Macaw work closely with the Oil and Gas industry and are mainly involved with the maintenance of pipelines. I enjoyed talking to the female engineers who work at Macaw and finding out about what they do on a day-to-day basis. I found it useful to be able to speak to the girls in smaller groups and meant they could give more detailed responses as opposed to the generic responses you often get in larger groups.

Tuesday – We kicked off Tuesday with the final trip of the three weeks. Our final trip involved detecting nuclear radiation at Kromek. This was less scary than it sounds as Kromek work to develop solutions for nuclear detection, medical imaging and security screening. We used the GR1-Gamma Ray Spectrometer to analyse radioactive material (which turned out to be store bought salt). I enjoyed the tour of the lab facilities, even if we did have to wear ridiculous hair nets and oversized lab coats.

Wednesday & Thursday – We spent Wednesday and Thursday back at the Think Physics lab. After taking so many trips out and about everyone agreed that we needed these two days just to get caught up with the Nepal project and make the finishing touches to everything we’d been working on over the past 3 weeks.

Friday – Most of Friday will be spent organising the Think Physics lab space and printing our posters and reports ready to present to the think physics team and parents at 2:00pm. Overall, the three weeks have been a great success! It has opened up my eyes to a wide range of new professions and possibilities I had no idea existed, and I feel much more confident knowing where a degree in Engineering or Physics can take me!

Charlotte – Week Two

Monday – We kicked off the second week with a trip to British Engines where we visited Bel Valves; who are best known for supplying high pressure valves to the oil and gas industry. Prior to this experience I had ruled out the possibility of an apprenticeship as I am still not 100% sure on what I want to do as a career. However after speaking to one of the female apprentices at Bel Valves I was surprised to find out that she herself still hadn’t fully decided what she wanted to do despite being 2 years into her apprenticeship! Therefore I now know you don’t necessarily need to have an end goal insight in order to do an apprenticeship. We were then given a tour of the factory which was curiously split up into a series of workshops in a series of different buildings. I was particularly interested in their testing facility. It was interesting to see how they can stimulate subsea conditions such as water depths of 4500m and temperatures of -2°c in the factory.

Tuesday – On Tuesday we visited The Reece Group at their new premises along Scotswood road. The Reece group is made up of five different companies; we visited Pearson Engineering on our trip as five is too many to get through in a day! After an introductory presentation in a make-shift conference room on site (which gave us all an insight to what Pearson Engineering does) we were given a tour of the factory where they explained how the different machines work and what they’re used for. It was particularly interesting to talk to Simone from Reece Innovation. She explained how Reece Innovation develops new products that solve clients’ problems. This interested me more than welding we had previously seen on shop floor as its more design based.

Wednesday – we began Wednesday with a presentation on how to make a successful academic poster. As part of the Nepal project we have all been asked to make an academic poster summarising our research. This was particularly as the closest thing to an academic poster I’d ever come to was a lab safety poster from Year  7 chemistry.

Thursday – We were back at the Think Physics Lab on Thursday continuing to work on the Nepal project. We had two visitors (a lecturer from Durham University and Geologist from New Zealand) come to speak to us as well. They explained the science behind earthquakes in further detail and demonstrated using a brick; sandpaper and talc powder how the geology of an area can affect the intensity of an earthquake. I was surprised to find out that the bigger the build-up of friction the less intense the earthquake.

Friday – On Friday the Think Physics team planned something a little different for us. We were each given a Bratz doll and were asked to give her a make-under. This make-under involved removing the ‘glamorous’ make-up and repainting their faces in a more natural style to better represent ourselves. My doll stands for girls in engineering; and wears a Hi Vis jacket as a visual representation of this.

Eleanor – Week Three

On Monday we went on a trip to Macaw. We received a presentation on what the company does (oil and gas production and pipeline consultation) and we learnt about how the company is expanding in to new technologies to better their company; they are now using different types of drones to detect faults in pipelines. After a brief demonstration and safety talk we were allowed to fly the smaller drone which is a lot more difficult that it looks. At the end of the day we got to talk to some of their employees about what they do and how they ended up in that position within Macaw.

On Tuesday we visited Kromek which is a company specialising in nuclear physics and radiation detection devices. After a short presentation, we used the detection devices attached to a laptop to see if we could identify different isotopes of unknown substances.

On Wednesday and Thursday we were back at the uni and just carried on with the final parts of our research and completed the posters before sending them to print.

On Friday we will be presenting our posters and other work at 2pm to parents. It’s been a great 3 weeks and the summer school has given me a good insight in to the world of physics and engineering.


Week 3- Alex

Monday 27th July- MACAW

In the afternoon we went to MACAW and had a talk from one of the drone pilots- Paul- and he explained what all the different types of drones did and how they worked and that they could actually be very dangerous if not used properly and hence why there are many restrictions on where you can fly them etc. He also explained that in order to fly them you need to be certified and if you work at MACAW you need to have 6 months experience before you can pass and after that you need to fly for 3 hours a month at least to keep up your skills. When he finished his talk we went into a large empty room and he gave us a demonstration of one of the bigger drones then we all got to have a go flying the smaller drones. It’s not hard in theory but in practice it’s a lot harder than it looks! We then had another talk from one of the more experienced members and he told us his journey through science and how he got to be where he is-it was a long journey!

Tuesday 28th July-Kromek

Kromek is a company that specialises nuclear physics and they make products that detect radiation and make ones that are small enough to fit in your hand and can connect to portable devices. They were created for people in areas that could have high radiation like near Fukushima. Adam went into a lot of detail about each of the products and how they worked which was interesting. After a coffee break we used the laptops which were plugged into a detector in a source to see if we could identify any isotopes in the source which was very confusing and difficult.

When we got back to the university we followed instructions on how to make a small electrical circuit attached to a motor. When we managed to get the motor to work we used hot glue and tape and attached them to various different musical instruments to try to make an orchestra that would work without touching it.

Wednesday 29th/Thursday 30th July-Research

On Wednesday we just continued with our research as we are approaching the end of the summer school. The posters and reports are all nearly finished by now so we are trying to get it done. On Thursday we are just finishing everything off and printing the posters in preparation for Friday.

Friday 31st July- Presentation

We are presenting the posters to parents at 2pm along with the other work we have completed. I have had a great time over the 3 weeks I’ve been here and it was a great opportunity to see physics in action and meet more like minded people and it has given me a better idea as to what opportunity is available to me in the future.

Sophie – Week 3

Monday 27th July – Macaw Engineering

After doing research in the morning, we went to Macaw Engineering. When we arrived, these pens we were given caused much excitement:

We started off the visit with a presentation about the company. Macaw engineering are a company which build and maintain pipelines; some of which stretch for a few kilometres. The most exciting part of the visit came after this talk, as we were introduced to drone technology. We saw a demonstration of a larger drone (which sounded like an angry swarm of wasps) flying, and got to fly some small drone models. (It didn’t go especially well, but it does take weeks to train, and months to fly professionally.)

We then listened to another talk, this time from one of the directors of the company, about his own career. It was very interesting to see how serendipitous a career can be; it’s something I’ve noticed taking to people in STEM, in that they seem to end up in careers they would have never thought of, but which they find rewarding.

Tuesday 28th July – Kromek

The visit to Kromek on Tuesday was one of my favourite visits of the 3 weeks. Unlike many of the other engineering companies we’ve seen, where the focus was very much on the manufacturing process, we got to see at Kromek how the science worked behind it, and got to understand how engineers are faced with problems from their clients – how can they make the product smaller, or more efficient? How can the speed be maintained along with the resolution?

FullSizeRender (1)Kromek is an engineering company that works with nuclear detection, for medical or security purposes. We started the day with a talk about what it was like to work in the nuclear physics field, and then we did an experiment measuring the radiation of unknown objects, and using the resulting spectrum to attempt to find what isotope we were measuring (there were varying levels of success with this). Our team used the GR1-Gamma Ray Spectrometer, which had the best resolution but which was the slowest.

Afterwards, we went on a tour of the building, including looking at the “clean room”, sporting very flattering hair nets and shoe protectors. We also got to see a demonstration of the machines they made which scanned bottles of fluid, for use at airport security.

The rest of the week so far

The rest of the week has been spent mostly finishing our reports and academic posters for our presentation on Friday. Hope it all goes well!


The final week at Summer school- Beth

Monday- Today we went to Macaw, we got a presentation when we first arrived in the afternoon, where we were told a few personal stories about career journeys which had quite a lot of useful information in it for us. We also got a presentation from somebody named Paul, who was a piolet of the drones. He explained to us in depth about the various different types of drones that they operate at macaw and how they actually have a lot of restrictions on them as they are very dangerous pieces of equipment if they are not operated properly and under certain terms and conditions. After the talk we got to have a go at flying some of the smaller drones which were so small that they fitted into the palm of your hand. They are a lot harder to fly than you originally think!! This was a very fun part of the day and it was also very interesting to see how the drones worked and it fitted in perfectly with my academic research. After having a go at flying the drones, we got another presentation off the director of the company which was very interesting.

Tuesday- Today we visited Kromek, we had a talk on what the company was about and what sort of products that they manufactured and produced. Most of their products were based on nuclear Physics, for example, they produced gamma ray spectrometers which were small enough to fit into the palm of your hand which was pretty amazing. He told us in great detail how all of the products they made worked, and this was really interesting and I learnt quite a lot of new information during my time there. After we were given the talk we were given a small coffee break, and then we went on the laptops and we used the gamma ray spectrometers to try and identify which isotope the ‘mystery substance’ was. This was really fun to do, and I really enjoyed seeing how it all worked on the laptop and how you can come to the final conclusion as to what isotope is present within the mystery substance. We then headed downstairs where we went to the clean lab; we had to put on lab coats, hairnets, and white shoes! It was very interesting, it was only a small room but it had many different pieces of equipment in it which they used. We left Kromek at lunchtime and headed back to Northumbria to carry on with our projects. By the end of today I had finished my poster, and also my academic research.

Wednesday and Thursday- We carried on with our projects, and we worked our way through our checklists to ensure that we finish everything by the end of the week. I added some finishing touches to my academic poster, such as colourful diagrams and I also added a little bit more information to it. By Thursday, I was ready to print off my academic poster ready for it to be displayed on Friday for parents and the think physics team. I also carried on with my doll, making it a lab coat and also trying to find a way of making some safety goggles for it. Tomorrow, we will be presenting our academic posters to the think physics team and for parents.

I have had such an amazing time at the think physics summer school 2015, and I am so glad that i got the opportunity to do it. I have met some great people, and have learnt so much information over the last three weeks. I now know for definite that i want to do a medical physics degree. It has been fantastic to see where Physics can take you in the future, and i now know what sort of careers that are out there for me- a massive thankyou to the think physics team!

Melinda – Week Three

This week has been the week that I have enjoyed the most. I have especially enjoyed focusing on completing the academic research and the poster. This has allowed me to learn more about the role of engineers and physicists in situations, such as natural disaster response, I initially would not associate them with. We visited Macaw and Kromek which were to very different companies and saw how Macaw, a traditional oil and gas company, was branching out and using new technologies to provide new technologies to their customers. Using drones is something that I’d never expect a professional company to do but the applications and uses are incredible. It shows how much the engineering industry is evolving and how there are so many different opportunities available with the roles being increasingly diverse and interesting.


Melinda – Week Two

We visited Bel valves which I enjoyed a lot because it was a smaller company which make bespoke valves for customers. The nature of their work intrigued me because it was more personal and the care they put into ensuring their product was of the highest standard was great. Comparing this to Nissan, the atmosphere was a lot calmer as opposed to the mass-production and constantly moving shop floor.

We got the opportunity to speak to a female engineer at Reece Innovation who studied a physics degree and worked as an academic. My preconceived ideas on how to get into the engineering industry were wiped away because I learnt that, by doing a physics or maths degree, your skills are what are sought after and you can move between different types of industries.

We continued with our academic research and posters with all of the time that we had and also received a talk from two geologists who gave us information on earthquakes, how they happen, why they happen, and the ways in which other countries dealt with earthquakes of similar magnitudes as the Nepal earthquake.