For the tenth time in a row, the impossibly thin piece of metal alloy broke. Of course, this wasn’t a normal metal alloy but was in-fact platinum-iridium wire. This is the kind of equipment you normally only get access to in your third year of a physics degree. Yet through the access provided by in2science, a progressive science-first charity, we, a group of year 12 students, have been able to develop our experimental lab skills and experience the true scientific industry for the first time.
This began on the 3rd July, arriving quite nervously, not knowing anyone else, to University College London. This is a place where, as you walk in, 50 other students are streaming out, and through their streaming bodies you can make out buildings that act as towering pillars of academia over the courtyard. Up to this point you have only really seen them as pictures the prospectus. Through the initial presentations and the continuous support, in2science allowed us to develop our scientific curiosity as well as aiding our application process for university science courses.
We attended workshops that guided us in how to write effective personal statements, and more importantly how not to! We were also able to experience the inner-workings of a real-life lab. In this lab, we used a Scanning Tunnelling Microscope to image thin pieces of graphite. Despite the number of repeats and continued shortcomings, we were none the less able to help each other and work together as a team. We eventually were able to produce some amazing images. On top of this many of us got to try our hands at other experiments like X-ray Spectroscopy or using Compton Scattering to approximate the mass of an individual electron.
This was an absolutely amazing experience which gave us an awesome privilege to learn and develop as scientists. I believe it has benefitted me and others in being able to learn what is needed to work at a University at a high level and we’re more confident of our futures because of it.