My Work Experience Journey

Jack Turnbull

Day 1 – Monday

Here it was, my first day experiencing what it was like in the world of work. I arrived around 30 minutes early this morning and after I waited and killed some time walking around and trying to shelter from the rain, I made my way into the lab following the signs which were a really big help. I entered the Think Physics area and after around 2 minutes of waiting on the sofa I was approached by a woman who was very friendly and welcoming who introduced us to a young man who was going to take us through the tasks on this day.

I began with “not the most exciting task” which was to create a spreadsheet on Excel. I took the sheets which had been filled in by Year 6 students about the jobs which they could name and the job which they wanted to do when they grew up and ordered them into a spreadsheet with a tally next to each job of how many people wrote it down.

After I had finished this task it was 12pm which was lunchtime for us. I had one hour and I had to be back for 1pm so me and Jordan made a quick trip to McDonalds to get a cheeseburger and to make the most of it being local to us.

At 1pm I was back in the lab ready to do some more work and the young man came back to us and moved me onto my next task which was about Science Trails and the Northumbria University Campus Tour. First of all, I researched into different science trails and wrote down what tasks and questions that they included, what the key features of a good trail are and what I would find interesting to look at and do on a trail.  Next, I researched into the history of Newcastle and wrote about key events that took place here involving Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths and how they could be included in a trail in Newcastle. After that, I thought about what I had been studying in school in science and what I might want to know about in a trail, I then put together some possible questions which I could answer or some tasks which I could complete in a trail.

The men in the lab were conducting an experiment on making anti bubbles which essentially were the opposite of a bubble, instead of being a bubble of air inside of a liquid they are a bubble of liquid inside of a bubble of air inside of a liquid. The men used washing up liquid with sugar and pipettes to try and create the antibubbles, I took around 5 minutes out of my work to watch them attempt the experiment which was very interesting. They found it difficult at first but eventually they got the hang of it and created some big antibubbles. I tried to do it but I wasn’t really sure of how to make them so it did not go very well. After watching them for a short while I got back to my work and got on with the task I was given.

I have really enjoyed my first day in the lab and I am excited for the rest of the week to find out what other tasks I will be completing and what activities I will be taking part in. Overall, the work place is very calm and peaceful and it is very relaxing. It is the perfect atmosphere to be able to focus on your work. Everyone who I have met is very friendly and I would definitely recommend work experience here at Think Physics.

Day 2 – Tuesday

The second day of my work experience with Think Physics had began. Today we were introduced to an intern called Callum who was going to be introducing us to robots and computer programming, we hadn’t done much of this before so it sounded very interesting and I was excited to get started. We were going to be using Lego Mindstorms within the workshop as the program to write the code for our robot, but first of all we had to build the actual robot itself – out of lego of course.

We started off by building the robot. It was quite complicated at first as they were a slightly advanced version of any lego I had ever came across before, but after a while me and Jordan got the hang of it and our lego robot was coming along very nicely. It wasn’t long before we had completed the robot and we were ready to programme it!

We were also allowed a tea break where I inserted the Nintendo hot chocolate capsule into the machine, it felt like I was in an interview because of the way the room is set out.

We had quite a problem with downloading the Lego Mindstorms program onto the tablet so while we were waiting I researched into computer programming and robots. I made notes in a word document on the jobs that robots and computer programming could be used in and into what computer programming actually was and how it is used in the world of work. After a long wait we finally downloaded the program and we were ready to use it.

On Lego Mindstorms, we used a drag and drop tool to create the algorithm so that the robot would function properly. Callum set us the task of making the robot rotate and making the cool weapon on the front of it spin. After a few attempts and learning from him and Jordan I was able to complete it and download it onto the robot using the programming block and I watched the robot rotate. I had programmed my first robot!

Overall, the second day was very action packed as it involved quite abit of building etc and it was very interesting as I have a huge interest in computers and I have also never learned about computer programming so it was challenging but exciting to be able to do something I had never tried before. I seem to be enjoying my work experience more each day.

Day 3 – Wednesday

When we arrived (before Callum) we began creating a workshop. We made a powerpoint presentation about computer programming which was aimed at KS3 children. The purpose of the presentation was to teach them about Lego Mindstorms and how to programme a Lego robot. We included definitions about different kinds of loops such as For loops, Do-while loops and If loops. We also included a list of possible careers that were related to computer programming.

Next, we made a work sheet to go along side the presentation for the KS3 students to complete at the workshop. We included a list of useful information which included a table containing images of commands in Lego Mindstorms and a definition of what they were and how they worked. Once again, we had a tea break at around 10:30, in my case a hot chocolate break, which was very nice.

We continued improving the presentation and worksheet adding more information until it was complete, and then it was dinner time. After dinner, we had to complete the task which we had set for the KS3 students ourselves which was to make the robot travel forwards, spin its weapon, turn 180 degrees and travel back to its original position. After this, we had to complete the challenge which was to completely control our robot by the remote which required us to do a bit of programming to allow us to do so – I completed this challenge first.

After that we had completed most of the work which we had been set and we decided to challenge ourselves by adding extra parts to the robot and testing them out. We added a touch sensor onto the front of the robot so that if it was travelling forwards and it crashed into something, when the touch sensor on the front was alerted it made the robot reverse immediately and do a 180 degree turn so that it could continue in the opposite direction – of course this required quite a lot of programming. Also, we managed to set up the proximity on the infrared sensor which was on the back of the robot. If the robot was traveling backwards and the proximity sensor was alerted by something close by then it would immediately make the robot travel forwards to prevent it from crashing; this also required quite a lot of programming.

We finished the extra work with around one hour remaining so we moved onto writing our blog about today which is where I am now whilst Laurence is attempting to program the robot himself.

Overall today has been very interesting, I have challenged my self to do things which I have never done before and even sometimes if it didn’t work the first time, I learnt from my mistakes and I got on with my work and fixed the problem. I really enjoyed my third day at work experience with Callum as most of the other staff were out for the day and I most definitely have enjoyed programming the Lego robot.

Day 4 – Thursday

In the morning, we completed a Think Physics Case Study question sheet, this asked me all about myself such as what I wanted to do in the future, what my favourite subject was in primary school, what was my biggest achievement etc. This really got me thinking as there were some tough questions like who inspires me and how I unwind.

Before dinner, we were set a task by Joe to make two 1m by 1m quadrat out of bamboo (which is possibly the worst material to make it with) We began by measuring the bamboo sticks each to 1m and cutting them using a clamp to hold the bamboo in place and a saw to actually cut it.

After dinner, we tried several times using a hot glue gun to stick the bamboo sticks together, we even tried Laurence’s idea cutting 90 degree angles on the ends of the sticks but this did also work. Eventually after changing our technique several times, we finally chose the correct one using a hot glue gun, nylon cord and masking tape. We then made sections inside of the quadrat and cut it into quarters using the nylon cord.

This task took up most of the day, so after we had finished and gave Joe the two quadrats that he had requested, me and Jordan grabbed a hot chocolate and began writing our blog for day four which is where I am right now.

Today has been busy and quite tiring but I have certainly enjoyed it, it has been different because it is like we are working in a construction lab for most of the day rather than a Physics lab but I can definitely say that today has been a good day!

Day 5 – Friday

Today was my last day at Work Experience with Think Physics. I am sad to have to leave today but I have really enjoyed completing my Year 10 Work Experience here.

In the morning, I finished off the improvements suggested by Carol for the Lego Mindstorms Computer Programming presentation which me, Jordan and Callum have been working on. I added some images that were required for the power point to make it look better and we made examples of tasks for the children to do so that they can understand how a computer reads instructions in a code, for example Callum took pictures of me sitting down on a chair and standing back up to demonstrate a do loop.

After this, we moved onto filling out a Think Physics Work Experience feedback form for Annie which will allow Think Physics to understand what is good and how they can further improve the work experience . We also have her our employer assessment sheets so that she could evaluate how we were throughout the week.

As it was the last day, I didn’t have much to do so I decided to make key fob like design on TinkerCab so that it can be 3D printed, Joe asked me to give this a go and said he will not tell me how to use the program so that I can challenge myself to make it by just messing about and seeing where I got, I managed to make it easily without any help.

Now, I am working on this blog for the last day before I have to upload it to the website. I am waiting to go on a tour around the university for 45 minutes and then I will finish off my blog and get it uploaded to the website for other people to see. The next paragraph will be after I have went on the tour because I usually write this blog at the end of the day but it is only 2:15pm.

I have just arrived back from the tour and it was very interesting. I had the chance to visit a variety of labs and see different courses which are on offer within the building. We were shown an example of a flow tank by a man in the civil engineering department and we saw examples of house walls and flooring. We also had a look around the architecture department and saw some examples of designs built by the students which were impressive.

Overall, today has been very good. I have enjoyed my last day with Think Physics and I would definitely return here without a doubt mainly because of how much I enjoyed working with the interns.