Sixth Form revision

Particle Physics Masterclass at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

particle physics 01

Year 12 and 13 students have been experiencing experimental physics first hand at the Particle Physics Masterclass. Held at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford, we visited the ISIS neutron and muon source, the largest particle accelerator in the UK, to learn about cutting edge research first hand.

Students were able to visit the collider where amazing feats of engineering are happening every day to create subatomic particles and look at data transmitted from CERN to find the Higgs boson, with APS proving their scientific credentials as the first school at the workshop to identify evidence of a Higgs event. The day was rounded off by a series of engaging and stimulating lectures that are sure to inspire our physicists of the future. Here are their thoughts on the day:

The talks were very interesting and well structured around the other activities of the day which provided a great insight into the uses and what is involved in running a particle accelerator. I was also inspiring to see the the wide range of careers and people that work there.Cosmo
The visit to the accelerator was very well structured. We listened to talks about particle physics, the history of particle accelerators and how they work, all of which were interesting and informative. We also had a tour of some of the facility, where we learnt more about the work involved in operating accelerators, and got the chance to use a computer program that allowed us to view data from the LHC. Overall, the day was inspiring and insightful.Max
The activities allowed us to gain a better insight into data processing and the structure of the data collectors at CERN. We learnt a lot about the different detectors and how they are used to understand which fundamental particles are given off during a collision and how momentum is conseved. The tour also allowed us the see how much effort goes into building all the machinery needed to carry out the research.Granit
The trip was very interesting and was extremely helpful in widening my knowledge in physics. Additionally, it helped me understand further possible careers in physics. The layout of the day was also well structured. Furthermore, I found it extraordinary witnessing the amazing apparatus used in particle accelerators.Alexandros Androutsos
The trip to the accelerator was very interesting and insightful onto the physics and process behind finding new sub atomic particles that could help us understand the world better . The talks were interesting and expanded my knowledge on quantum physics and therefore giving me a heads start on others . I also went to ISIS which showed me their machinery close up and gave me a visual idea of how much is needed to control sub atomic particles and their interactions.Viktor Maszewski

Erasmus + MCCS: Copenhagen visit

Five year 12 students were given the wonderful opportunity to travel to Copenhagen during the first week of December as part of APS’ ongoing commitment to our Erasmus+ programme. The project is entitled “Monitoring Climate Change from Space” and the opening visit focused on the fundamentals of rocket science, climate change, and the European Union. We are partnered with schools from Denmark, Spain, French Guiana, and Greece. Our next visit will be to Madrid in March and will focus on rocket design! Mr. Marshall

You can follow the project on Twitter: @ErasmusMCCS or Instagram: MCCS_Erasmus



Monday was the initial kick off of the monitoring climate change from space project, in Copenhagen, Denmark. We started it off by a few quick presentations about each of the countries taking part (England, Denmark, Spain, Greece and French Guiana) including interesting information about their schools, culture and the effects of climate change on their country as well as how to prevent them. We then were split into 9 groups, each to look at a different aspect of the project: solar power, mechanical playground and wind power. In our groups, we completed simple ice breaking tasks in order to meet new people, socialise and make friends. We finished the school day off with a quick logo competition in which French Guiana won, and the basics behind rocket science to increase our understanding. Around 2 o’clock we were dismissed to travel around Copenhagen and explore the city. Emilka Krzyszton



On Tuesday, we went to the Danish Technical University (DTU), where we were split into three groups, and did different experiments. In one group, we built windmills with Lego and then tested how efficient they were with the help of a wind tunnel. Another group plotted a voltage against current graph of LED lights then predicted the voltage of a blue LED. After the DTU, We travelled by bus to the EU embassy, where we had an interesting talk about the future of the EU, and why it is so important to countries in Europe. Afterwards, we had free time, and some of us visited the Christiansburg palace and we went up it and had a beautiful view with lots of wind. Below is a photo of the view. Then we walked around a famous Christmas market and bought some Danish hotdogs and souvenirs, after we did a bit more walking around the streets until we were tired and sat in a small cafe and enjoyed some card games, and hot chocolate. Gillian Lui



Wednesday was covered by a lecture on ice core extraction and analysis in the Niels Bohr Institute.

The lecturer began by establishing the environments and conditions usually dealt with extraction in Greenland; he gave details on: distance from shore ~500km, ice height ~3km and briefly mentions the inconvenience of the 6-month intervals of light and darkness throughout the year, caused by Greenland’s latitude.

The history of ice extraction was gone over from America’s initial plans to build a military base in Greenland to the discovery of heavy water analysis. The scientists used different atomic isotopes to determine a given climate temperature; hence allowing one to uncover historic climate patterns in ice, this allowed the lecture to segue into the section of using the ice cores for climate research.

Performing various chemical processes and measurements on the ice a graph of past to present shows the abundance of certain ions in the atmosphere such as carbonates, sulphates and nitrates. By understanding of these ions’ functions in the atmosphere, sulphate abundance can be used to indicate when a historic volcanic eruption occurred from the substances released into the atmosphere, then rained down left onto the snow, undisturbed for centuries or millennia under the foreseen sheets of ice snow that would bury it.

The lecturer then led us down into a separate section of the Institute to a vault kept at -25°C where he showed us samples from Greenland. He demonstrated that if one takes a thin slice of an ice core and put them under a certain magnifying glass and a light, crystals would shine through in various colours; they were used crystal analysis.

The lecture was wrapped up through insightful references to climate change’s relevance to the current political climate and the types of statistics which are presented to politicians through the ICCP with urgency made on the infamous 2°C global temperature target. Philipp Wiedemann


We got to school at 8:15 and we had a presentation about a small portion of rocket science, which concerned the relationship between velocity and force, if the velocity is quadrupled then the force is doubled. We then split in to nine groups, different from those on Monday, where six of those groups would rotate between air and water rocket constructing while the remaining three groups spent the whole time building small-scale chemical rockets.

For the air rockets, we had to create one out of paper which would then be launched from a high pressure pipe. The main goal was to make it travel the furthest. This was the same for the water rockets too, except we had to hit a target at about 20 Erasmus students (The perfect SI unit) away. The goal of the chemical rockets was simply to see if they worked or not, but it gave an insight about how previous rockets worked. We all returned to the hall at noon to start making presentations about what we did to show off on Friday to the rest of the school. Everyone went home at 2 o’clock to go and get ready for the dinner party at 18:30.

Friday and Saturday

On Friday, we had a late start to the day as we met at the school for 10 am. We finished off the presentations we had started and then had lunch before some of us presented it to the second year students. After the presentation we used Kahoot to see who remembered the most from the week and the Danish students got first second and third place. After that we went home, or went around Copenhagen, before the party that was hosted for us to have a bit of a good time before flying out the next day.

On Saturday we arrived at the station we were meeting at on time and then took the metro to the airport where we said our final goodbyes and then checked in to the flight.



Workshop with Robin Mobbs

On Friday 26th January, seventy students from year 12 and year 13 experienced workshops from the excellent Robin Mobbs of the National Space Academy. Robin enthralled the students with his stories of working alongside Tim Peake and the M&M floating around in the ISS. The year 12 session looked at UK space careers and how we lead on satellite production in this country as well as considering Newton’s laws and which other scientists were integral in their formulation. The year 13 students had a session on Kepler’s law where they were able to be hands-on and producing their own sinusoidal representations.

The session inspired the students to think about their futures and hopefully one day APS might have their very own home-grown astronaut.

Student quotes:

Nice job, 9 out of 10, I would recommend because it was brilliant and informativeAlex Y13
I thought it was going to be pretty boring but it was pretty funOmed Y13
EpicChris Y12
Really made me think about being an astronautFran Y12

Kepler’s laws