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Visit to the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory

DSC_0701(1)On November 18th, SCOPE organised a night trip to the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory (SDSO) located in the edge of the Galloway Forest in Ayrshire.

During this visit twelve of our members had the chance to visit the SDSO centre and enjoy their indoors exhibition together with an astonishing sky observation outdoors allowed by the clear skies during the visit.

The observation was guided by two members of the SDSO staff that were operating two telescopes, one of which was inside an impressive 5 metre dome. With the mentioned equipment, we were able to observe some of the major objects in the Northern Hemisphere night sky including major constellations such as Cassiopeia, Orion or Pegasus, some galaxies like Andromeda, and even the planet Uranus.

During the observation we also received interesting explanations not only regarding the astronomical objects we were looking at but also about the process of observation itself. Moreover, we had the chance to practice night photography with some of our cameras and the help of the members of SDSO and their tripods.

After this, we visited the exhibition inside the SDSO centre that included some models of planets, astronaut missions and some Physics demonstrations.

We consider that this trip was a fantastic opportunity for SCOPE members to learn about Astronomy and the local facilities that currently exist in Scotland for this purpose. Moreover, we gained awareness about issues like light pollution that obstruct observation.

Finally, we would like to mention that this activity was also aimed to show SCOPE members that there are many career possibilities with a background of physics outside Academia, such as outreach in Astronomy.

Career Evening

EPSYM2017B24_1After a very successful first run last year, we wanted to repeat our SCOPE Career Evening which took place on October, 24 2017.
Three speakers, with a PhD in a natural science subject and a relation to Strathclyde University – either through their current job or past studies -, were invited. While the event last year was dominated by alumni working in the field of photonics, we wanted to mix things up more this year and hence, through successful internet searches, were able to engage a university lecturer with a research fellowship, an outreach officer and a business development manager to join us for the evening.
Each of the three gave a 15-20 minute presentation about their career path, their current positions and the career advice they gathered along the way and wanted to share with us. The talks turned out to be as varied as the speakers are: firstly in form, as they ranged from PowerPoint presentations to simply talking to us with some outreach props. But also in terms of content, we were able to gather both very practical career advice as well as more inspirational insight into how careers can develop and what aspects we should consider in our choices.
Finally, the evening was completed with a question and discussion round with all three speakers, before we finished off with a small reception during which speakers and audience could mingle a little more.
The audience consisted mostly of postgraduate students with some undergraduate students also attending and amounted to approximately 20-25 people. The feedback we received was overall positive and we take it as a positive sign that there was very lively discussion until the end of the evening.

Recruitment event

epsym2017b25As part of a developing SCOPE tradition, we welcomed, on October, 12 2017, new and not so new students to SCOPE with a start-of-the-semester social night.
Thanks to our EPS Young Minds grant, we were able to provide some food and drinks for the event and attracted about 30-35 students to our department’s common room in the evening. We started off with a short introduction to our student chapter and the activities that we are involved in during the year, in particular the upcoming chapter committee elections which was the centre of our recruitment efforts of the night.
After this official beginning, the rest of the evening was focused on networking, meeting and exchanging experiences with other students within the university. For the SCOPE committee, it was particularly also a good opportunity to find out more what kind of activities our members are interested in.
Throughout the night, we distributed our chapter business cards and had information and sign-up sheets for our mailing list displayed to fill in.
Although still a bit early to tell – as elections have not taken place yet -, our recruitment evening was very successful. A large number of new PhD and Master students attended with some very interested in our activities and how to officially join the chapter. A small number of undergraduate students also attended the event; this is a very positive sign, as we have recently increased our collaboration with the very undergraduate-oriented Physics Society at Strathclyde University in order to broaden our membership base further.
Overall, around ten people signed up to join our mailing list with some also already attending our follow-up event to the Welcome Night, a Career Evening at the end of November. As most current members of the SCOPE committee will step down this year due to their studies coming to an end, this event was very important for us in order to increase SCOPE’s visibility among students and ensure that we can find enough members for the new committee; we hope to have succeeded in this goal.

Strathclyde’s Physics Journal Club

scope_journal_club_001From late 2016 to the first half of 2017, SCOPE has continued organising the Strathclyde’s Physics Journal Club fortnightly with excellent participation and support from the students involved.

Keeping the spirit from the previous year, the aim of this activity was to both give the chapter members the opportunity to present some of the relevant papers in their field, or more broadly in general interest science, and also enhance the communication with other students, learning and talking about physics in a relaxed atmosphere. We aimed to develop a vital skill for young researchers: the ability to efficiently analyse and present a high-profile scientific paper. As many of the students were lacking this kind of activities in their own groups, we provided this student-run platform with great success.

Throughout the year, we tried to broaden the topics covered in the sessions ranging from plasma physics to biological lasers. At the same time, we focus a lot of our efforts in incorporating new people to the Journal Club. This lead to a nice attendance in all the sessions and benefitted other of our events as people got to know SCOPE through the Journal Club. We encouraged all our attendees to present at least once and thanks to that we managed to cover really diverse areas of physics. The presentations were usually 20 to 30 minutes long, supported by whiteboard sketches and slides, and it was followed by an informal discussion with some refreshments.

The rest of the students provided some feedback after the presentation helping the speakers improve their weaker points and together improving the understanding of the topic being discussed. To make this discussion as useful as possible, all the attendees had access to the presented papers a few days in advance to be able to familiarise themselves with the subject.

The success of the activity was also due to the fact that the activity was run by other students, reducing the anxiety of making mistakes or asking questions, and generating a suitable environment for group learning.

We are certain that this activity will remain valued by the students in the coming years. That’s why we are planning on maintaining it in the next academic year. As the activity requires a small budget we will be able to organise it without requiring further funding.

Glasgow Science Festival and the European Researchers’ Night

SCOPE1This past year SCOPE took part in the two main events for science outreach held in the city of Glasgow.
– Glasgow Science Festival (June).
During one weekend the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow hosts researchers from various fields to interact with the general public. It is an excellent opportunity for SCOPE to be able to explain different physical phenomena to everyone interested. This year the title of our activity was “Spilling the beams of light”. With a number of demonstrations and hands-on experiments for children and the entire family we explained how light works. The goal of our show was to cover the key features and properties of light, from understanding how the eye works to holograms. We also included several devices (polarizers, prisms, colours, 3D glasses..), each illustrating different phenomena. Four different set-ups were proposed, attracting around 250 people, mostly families with young children (aged 4-14).
– European Researcher’s Night ¨Explorathon” (September).
“A kingdom of optical illusions” was the title of our activity, and alongside other researchers from different fields, we organized hands-on activities aimed at younger children and families. With our demonstrations we wanted to cover some key features and properties of light, by using holograms, 3D glasses and plasma lamps.
The feedback for both activities has been very positive and the overall experience was excellent.
The 3D glasses workshop continues to be one of the most attractive activities, where children have the occasion to build their own glasses and play with them watching a short 3D movie as well as 3D pictures. Besides learning, children had fun with cutting and gluing their own glasses that they could take home afterwards.
All experiments were handled with kind assistance from the coordinators of the Science Festival and Explorathon, as well as volunteers from the University of Strathclyde’s Physics department and the Institute of Photonics.

Strathclyde’s Physics Journal Club

SCOPEIn 2016 Strathclyde SCOPE YM has successfully run the Strathclyde’s Physics Journal Club fortnightly with really good acceptance and collaboration from the students involved. The aim of this activity was to both give the chapter members the opportunity to present some of the relevant papers in their field or more generally in general interest science and also enhance the communication with other students, learning and talking about physics in a relaxed atmosphere. As many of the students were lacking this kind of activities in their own groups, we provided this student-run platform with great success.

Throughout the year, we had the chance to learn about a whole variety of physics subjects from quantum optics to optogenetics. The participants ranging from 10 to 20 people with high regularity chaired at least one session during this period. The presentation was usually 20 to 30 minutes long, followed by an informal discussion with some refreshments. During the presentation most of the participants will make use of both whiteboard sketches and projector slides to support their speech. The rest of the students provided some feedback after the presentation helping the speakers improve their weaker points during the presentation.

We consider that this activity was helping to develop a vital skill for junior scientists which is the ability to efficiently analyze and present a high-profile scientific paper. The fact that this activity was held in a student atmosphere helped reducing the fear of some participants to make mistakes and allowed them to expand their knowledge in a much less anxious way.

We regularly asked for feedback to our participants and adapted the sessions to their needs. The atmosphere was really friendly during the sessions and we are certain that this activity will remain valued by the students in the coming years.

Glasgow Science Festival 2015

2015_SCOPE_F_02At this year’s Glasgow Science Festival, SCOPE (the Strathclyde Student Community for Optics & Photonics Engineering) organised outreach experiments and workshops for children and adults under the heading “Illuminating the world of light”. Since 2007 the event has grown to be one of the most popular festivals in the United Kingdom, providing a range of science-related events over 2 weeks.
Our group was enjoying two days of fascinating experiences in sharing knowledge with a broad age audience, including children of age 3 up to 60-year old curious onlookers, at a family weekend at the Kelvingrove Museum.
Our three different setups attracted around 200 people, mostly families, who came interested in basic issues of optics and general physics. One of the most attractive parts for the young audience was a 3D glasses workshop. Visitors had the occasion to build their own glasses and play with them watching a short 3D movie as well as 3D pictures. We further took up the challenge of explaining to both parents and children the physics behind IMAX cinema, using a demonstration of polarization of white light with professional 3D glasses and polarising filters from an OSA Optics Suitcase. Apart from learning, children had fun with cutting and gluing their own glasses which they could then take home.
On the other side of the desk we ran a game where visitors had to guess in which applications or everyday items lasers are used (by picking out the correct pictures with brief descriptions on the back of the cards). Each time before starting the game, a small experiment was performed to explain to the audience what the difference between regular light (from a torch) and laser light is. All winners were granted funny stickers for their good answers. Few of the cards included tricky examples and most of the adults, even people working in science, found our game very educational and we received positive feedback from them.
For those more interested in medical physics, we prepared a demonstration illustrating how the human eye works. Two laser pointers and a huge lens borrowed from the Institute of Photonics at Strathclyde University were used to show how the laser light penetrates the human eyeball and where the right place is for their intersection, so that the image received by the eye has the proper sharpness. The audience was following the light beams coming from the other side of the lens using a piece of paper. After the hands-on experiment many children stayed to listen to a short talk about the internal structure of the eye.
All experiments were handled with kind assistance from the coordinators of the Science Festival as well as volunteers from the University of Strathclyde’s Physics Department and the Institute of Photonics.

Bilateral section meeting with Glasgow University student chapter

2015_SCOPE_Bilateral_02On July 6th 2015, SCOPE (the Strathclyde Student Community for Optics & Photonics Engineering) came together with an OSA Student Chapter from Glasgow University, newly founded this year, for a first interchapter meeting and social night.
The event was hosted in the physics common room at Glasgow University. Food and drink was provided jointly by the Glasgow University Chapter as well as SCOPE ranging from pizza and beer to cake and juices. In total a number of about 25 people attended the evening with around 10 students joining us from Strathclyde University. Although many of these were full SCOPE members already, this was still a very good opportunity for recruitment for both the Glasgow University chapter, whose first event it was, and us to engage those students that had not joined our societies yet.
After dinner, the evening continued with a short, but cleverly designed quiz on light-related questions from physics, music and other categories, organized by the Glasgow University Chapter, as well as some socializing allowing the members of both chapters to get to know each other and talk about their respective research activities. For us, as the committee, it also provided an opportunity to exchange experiences with our chapters so far and discuss ideas for future events and potential future collaborations.
Overall, we received positive feedback from the people attending and have planned to repeat such a bilateral meeting with the Glasgow University OSA Chapter in due time. The EPS funding we received was used to provide subway travel for our members to the venue as well as our share of food and drink for the evening.