After the Big Bang...
This entry will describe what I've done since the Big Bang Fair. I'll elaborate on certain aspects at a later date, since tomorrow I'm catching the train to Paris and the EUCYS and might not have access to the internet!
One of the first things that happened after the Big Bang Fair was that my local paper, the Lincolnshire Echo, wrote a piece on my project and the prize I won. As expected they got a lot of details wrong (and included at least two terrible puns in the title), but here is a link to the article if you fancy reading it: http://www.thisislincolnshire.co.uk/news/Courtney-good-ear-sound-career-... I also gave a talk at school to interested teachers and students - my second, as I also talked to parents at our Open Evening in November 2008.
In May I received an e-mail telling me I had been nominated for an Ignition Creative Sparks award - this consists of an £8000 grant spread over two years, helping me to complete a creative STEM project. Fourteen other youngsters in the East Midlands will be given Creative Spark awards over the next two years; the scheme is aiming to bring the proportion of East Midlands youngsters taking STEM subjects at university up to the national average. I will be using my award to combine physics with web design and writing, in order to create a resource that will encourage young people to continue with physics. You can find more information about Creative Sparks awards here: http://www.ignitefutures.org.uk/ignition/creative-sparks/about-creative-...
In July I attended the Talent Matters event in London, which brought together young people from various networks to attend workshops and discuss how best to get young people to fulfil their potential, the highlight being Levi Roots (of "Dragons' Den" and Reggae Reggae Sauce fame) singing us a song.
At the Big Bang Fair one of the judges who spoke to me told me he worked at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot and suggested I apply to do work experience there. That I did, and I spent a week there in July, working with the T2K and MINOS collaborations. In short, I used a program called ROOT to simulate what might go on in these detectors and learned a bit about the detectors as well. I'll write a bit more about this in detail soon.
I had to fund my RAL trip myself, but I used part of my Creative Sparks Award to fund another placement at Sheffield. Again I worked on two things: testing LED circuitboards to be used to calibrate a neutrino detector that works by detecting optical Cerenkov radiation (intense blue light given off when a particle enters water at faster than the speed of light in water) and computer programming (doing a second-year C course and using ROOT again to analyse the results I collected from my LED circuitboard testing). I'll elaborate on this too when I have time.
So, tomorrow I'm off to Paris and in three weeks I'll be off to Imperial College London to start a degree in Physics with Study in Europe (Germany specifically). I'll be tweeting from the EUCYS at http://www.twitter.com/courtney_cspark if you're interested.
Now I'm going to lie in a darkened room for a while and try to forget about all this shameless and unwarranted self-promotion.