On Tuesday 17th December, the Physics Mentoring Project celebrated the participation of school students, teachers, university staff and undergraduate mentors with an Awards and Recognition Ceremony at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth.

The Centre, based in Llwyngwern Quarry, about 40 minutes from Aberystwyth, aims to inspire, inform and enable society to achieve practical solutions for sustainability. Given it’s central-Wales location and it’s important and relevant mission, the centre was a perfect venue to welcome aspiring scientists from the project!

Two schools which have taken part in both pilot year cycles of Physics Mentoring, Ysgol Friars Bangor and Islwyn High School, made the trip to CAT for the day. They were welcomed with a keynote speech from Kirsty Williams, AM, the Minister for education, who remarked on the importance of the project and it’s aims to inspire more students to take Physics A level and her confidence in the impact of the project on both the mentees and mentors.

After being awarded with Physics Mentoring certificates and goodie bags, mentees attended a lecture about CAT’s research project, Zero Carbon Britain. Mentees showed commitment to positive change toward sustainability through their enthusiastic and thorough questioning of the speakers!

While mentees attended their lecture, mentors and teachers were in their own sessions. Mentors heard from mentor alumni, Laura, who presented on how her time as a mentor at Ysgol Bro Hyddgen has supported her PGCE at Cambridge University. They then worked with the project’s evaluators, OnData, to reflect on their own time in schools. Feedback from this session included practical improvements for the National Coordinator to implement, comments on the many ways they will use the experience gained in the future and a very positive response to continuing as a mentor in future cycles. Teachers attended a CPD session led by Dr Chris North, which explored careers, through linking skills learnt in the classroom to careers that may not always spring to mind when discussing Physics qualifications.

During lunch, mentees and mentors were encouraged to explore the careers fair which was attended by colleagues from NHS Radiography from Welshpool, Science PGCE courses at Swansea and Aberystwyth Universities , Datblygiadau Egni Gwledig, Community Energy Wales, the Institute of Physics and a freelance science journalist. Fortunately, it was a clear and sunny day and so the event ended with a self-directed ‘Zero Carbon Britatin’ tour around the centre’s site.

The Physics Mentoring Project would like to thank the Centre for Alternative Technology’s staff for assisting in running the day, the Minister for Education and her colleagues for attending, all mentors, mentees and teachers for making the trip, colleagues who contributed to the careers fair and to our evaluator, Laura, for leading the session with the mentors.