Rutherford Appleton Labs
"On the 28th of February, we (Archit and Joshua) and a handful of the More Able students were welcomed to visit the Diamond Light Source at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, one of the many science-based organisations local to Oxfordshire. Upon arrival, we were welcomed by the staff and had the privilege of receiving a brief presentation on a couple of projects being performed and studied in the diamond light facilities by two students who are on a placement year from University of Bristol.
After this presentation, our group was taken to the first workshop where we used the ‘Freestyle Libre’, a sugar level monitor for people with diabetes, to measure the amount of sugar in orange juice, cereal, coke, bananas, ketchup and oreos. We deduced that coke had the most sugar and plain cereal had the least; we were also informed that the freestyle libre was manufactured in the Diamond Light Facility (Abbott).
Shortly afterwards, we got to speak with representatives from several different STEM-based organisations and learned about their projects and how they started their careers in science.
After our brief lunch break, we were taken on a tour around the Diamond Light Facility and were disappointed to know there were no actual diamonds, however, we learned that the entire ring-shaped facility acted as a giant “super” microscope which many organisations used to study samples and carry out research. The ‘microscopes’ stationed around the circumference of the facility operated using rays produced by electrons that are sped up and then fired around the centre portion of the facility; the electrons produced a form of light caused by the electrons having to slow down slightly along the bends in the ring. These light rays are then used to take a highly magnified picture of any sample that needed to be analysed.
Finally, we were taken to our last workshop where we were given set budgets and had to buy materials with the said budget to create a miniature solar-powered car. After much hard work and brainstorming, we raced our creations among ourselves and against the other schools present on the trip that day and our group successfully achieved the fastest time.
Overall, this trip was extremely educational and intriguing and we all learnt a great deal about STEM and how it is currently affecting our lives, making it more efficient, and how we could venture into a science-based career. We were very glad that we had the opportunity to visit the Diamond Light Facility and it compelled us to consider a future career in the sciences."