Astronomy, Physics, Public, Schools, Secondary

A summer in the life of an intern

I’m Meirin Evans, studying Physics at the University of Manchester but I look forward to coming home to Cardiff every holiday so that I can spend a little time working with the Physics and Astronomy outreach team. This summer has been an especially busy one for me, which has meant it’s been very exciting!

The first event which I attended was Tafwyl, Cardiff’s Welsh language festival held in Llandaf Fields over the first weekend of July. I had a stand outside the Cardiff University tent to talk about ‘Death, Destruction and Dinosaurs – Rocks from Space’. This meant chatting to kids and families in English and Welsh about what killed the dinosaurs, meteorites and the consequences they could have for life on Earth. I had samples of lunar rock, Mars rock, fossils, meteorites, dinosaur bones, dinosaur teeth and claws; making the total contents of the transport suitcase thousands of pounds!

Later in the day I was with the Institute of Physics making ‘Squishy Circuits’, mini electronic circuits from play-dough! We had different coloured play-dough, different coloured LED lights, goggle eyes and straws so that kids could make ‘play-dough monsters’ how they wanted. Even parents were impressed that play-dough was conducting!

On the Sunday I was helping Peri Jones at Science Made Simple. We had various demos like listening to slinkies, music boxes, whirly tubes, a hypnotizing rabbit, diffraction glasses, tangled ropes and musical straws.

Another event which I was part of was “Astronomy in Action”, working with First Campus. Over the 13th and 14th of July, school pupils from across South Wales came to Cardiff University to learn about astronomy. We had workshops covering using an infra-red camera, making a massive Hertzsprung-Russel diagram in a classroom, calculating the expansion of the universe and simulating asteroid impacts.

On the 25th July I was at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show with the Institute of Physics demonstrating ‘light graffiti’. This is when long camera exposures are taken in a dark tent and a light is waved around to write words, draw pictures or just make a general light mess!

Between events I’ve been mentoring work experience and Nuffield scheme students by showing them the ropes in astronomy. With other summer interns we’ve written some activities and resources to go onto the Faulkes Telescope website. With Sarah Roberts from the Faulkes Telescope project we’ve translated an ESA booklet on the Rosetta mission into Welsh. In addition I’ve translated the Institute for Research in Schools booklets ‘Higgs Hunters’, ‘TimPix’ and ‘Sunny Storms’.

All in all, I’ve done many different things but this has made it more fun! So much so, I’ve come back in September for more!