Work Experience Week 2023
Every year, the LJMU's Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) welcomes 20 Year 12 students for a week's work experience. Students spend an amazing 5 days learning about astrophysics from professionals, developing their STEM skills, and completing their own research projects.
The week kicked off with students getting to know each other through an engineering challenge, followed by an inspiring Introduction to Astronomy from Professor Steve Longmore. In the afternoon they heard from Dr Helen Jermak about what it's like to plan, engineer, and use a robotic telescope before designing their own telescope with the help of volunteers from the New Robotic Telescope Team.
Over the next couple of days students delved into the physics of stars with Professor Andy Newsam and discovered from Professor Rob Crain how supercomputers can simulate the entire Universe!
Students spent most of the week working in pairs on their research project. Topics included Binary Star Systems, Exoplanets, Stellar Evolution, Supernovae, and Variable Stars. Students were supported in their projects by supervisors from the ARI (Dr Chris Copperwheat, Dr Michael Healey, Professor Andy Newsam, Professor Shiho Kobayashi, and Dr Sara Saracino) and some amazing astrophysics students. Before starting their research projects, students took part in skills workshops on collecting and analysing data and communicating science with The Schools' Observatory Team.
The week culminated with well-earned tea and cake as students presented their research to the ARI.
Many students opted to spend the week living in a Liverpool student hall of residence, courtesy of the Schools' Observatory. This gives them a taste of what life as a university student will really be like, plus they get to explore the beautiful city of Liverpool in the evenings!
Some of the feedback we had from students this year:
- I feel invigorated as if a supernova has awakened in my soul due to this week.
- I called my dad last night to tell him I definitely want to study astrophysics.
- Work Experience Week will definitely help me in the future even if I don’t go into the astrophysics field.
- I have had a taste of not only what studying astrophysics will be like, but also of what student life is like.
- It will undoubtedly help in enriching my university applications, as well as furthering and deepening my interest in astrophysics.
- My favourite part of the week so far was Wednesday when we handled the data and produced graphs from our calculations. I didn’t expect myself to like this part of the project so I surprised myself when I was enjoying it.
- If you are thinking of applying to Work Experience Week next year, then definitely go for it. I have learned and developed a wide range of skills just from a single week here and I am so grateful for the opportunity.