Sixth Form Physics and STEM Update

With the academic year now in full swing some opportunities have arrived for our Year 12 and 13 to experience Physics beyond the curriculum.

    At the start of the term, three Year 12 students began a task to try and make a sonic tractor beam! Mr Mitchener, our Physics technician, had found an article showing how the interference of sound waves could produce a low pressure zone strong enough to lift small objects. Never being one for missing an opportunity, we discussed this and the kit was ordered.

    An ex-A level student, who keeps in touch with school, 3D printed the “cone” needed as the basis of the device. The plans that were downloaded meant that some tidying up of the kit was needed but it was almost as required.

    The ultrasonic transducers were all mounted inside the cone in the allocated spaces and then wired up. This meant we had a hemisphere full of 15mm speakers designed to emit sounds we couldn’t hear. The idea being that where the sounds overlapped, the waves would interfere, producing areas of low and high pressure which would then cause a tiny object to move into the low pressure zone regardless of how we held it. In theory this would allow us to lift the object off the floor and suspend it!

    The process has taken the students a bit longer than they expected and the next phase is to programme the chip needed to control the sound patterns necessary to do the lifting. As Christmas approached, we are hoping the students will have the time necessary to get this final stage completed and then we can see if they really can overpower gravity with sound!

    Gold CREST Awards

    Year 12 have embarked on a variety of Gold CREST awards this year. The aim being to add that extra dimension to their CV, identifying the ability to investigate an idea in depth and in theory produce the best solution to a problem. Some of the students have followed tried and tested project suggested by the CREST Awards website whilst others have gone out on their own route.
    Projects span a variety of scientific areas such as; attempting to design the optimum toothbrush, designing, building, testing and using a simple camera and learning how to develop photographs in the dark room, calculating the optimum ratio of raw ingredients to produce a simple but effective rocket fuel including testing these mixtures at home with the full support of parents. Others projects are being worked on too, with the students very much controlling their own project with a view to completing it before the end of the academic year.

    Lower school STEM projects with support from Sixth form students

    After Christmas, Sixth form students will hopefully be involved with running some of these projects as a way of giving back to the school community and improving their personal skills such as managing people and self-confidence.

    Competitions open to lower school students that have run in previous years such as the BP bright ideas challenge and the QinetiQ powerboat challenge will launch again in January. These involve design projects for a sustainable city of the future and the challenge to design, build and race a powerboat at the Marine Testing Facility in Haslar, Gosport. Last year the team, with the support of Sixth form students, built a boat that managed to complete the course after initially needing modifications to stay afloat and the team won the award for the best display, which had to tell the story from start to finish of the boat design and build.

    External Speakers and University Links

    Dr Brocklesby is a force to be reckoned with in the field of lasers. Working at Southampton University he is a Reader at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, and an associate member of the School of Physics and Astronomy. His research interests, originating from his doctoral work in Oxford and postdoctoral work at AT&T Bell Laboratories, span spectroscopy and microscopy of a wide range of materials and devices.

    For the last 10 years he has worked in the area of nanoscale imaging, with particular emphasis on the study of optical waveguide devices, demonstrating subwavelength optical imaging within devices such as Fibre Bragg gratings and microstructured fibres, and nonlinear waveguides.

    We are hoping to forge closer links with the university in different ways, currently visiting the High Voltage labs and X-Ray diffraction laboratories.

    Work has been done in the past with Dr. Angelo Grubisic, who lectures in astronautics and is the coordinator for the Icarus project. He is an experienced wing suit BASE jumper and test pilot for the Icarus project. The aim being to develop a wing suit with a talented group of students, as part of their fourth year group design either projects or third year individual projects. The students are studying for their MSc Engineering, in Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Southampton, making use of world-class equipment, including wind tunnels and supercomputers. The venture aims to show that, with a little leadership and initiative, students can make a valuable contribution to applied research in exciting, innovative projects. The aim is for the teams to develop the world’s fastest wing suit and to this end they spend a considerable amount of time using the university wind tunnel and the indoor skydiving centre, in Basingstoke, which we were lucky enough to be invited along to and experience a little of what they do in the project.


    Owned by: PES | Last Published: 11/12/2017 11:43:02 | Next Update: N/A


Sixth Form Physics and STEM Update


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