My name is Alex Loader, and for the past 10 weeks I have been working as an intern for the Physics Mentoring Project.
In this time I’ve helped out at events, worked on redesigning and improving the sessions we can run, and experienced the world of science outreach by fully embracing every event and opportunity that came my way.
I am a student, but before I came to university I worked as a teaching assistant at my local primary school, and this really made me realise how important it is to inspire young people and encourage them to try things they never thought they could achieve – and this is at the heart of the Physics Mentoring Project. This is why I jumped initially at the chance to become a mentor, and then again when I had the chance to work more closely with the project team through this internship.
It’s fantastic looking back at the end and seeing all that I’ve done over the course of this internship. I have worked with local libraries providing workshops for primary school children – a welcome return to my roots – but have also thrown myself into running sessions at Summer Schools aimed at secondary school students, and most intimidatingly of all to a room of Heads of Science for a large number of local schools. This isn’t even counting the trip to Interact 2019, a Science Outreach convention at the UCLAN campus, where we travelled to and presented to other science outreach professionals. All of these events have solidified the decision that I want outreach, in some form, to be a factor of how I approach life after my degree.
I feel like I have also been able to give back to the project on top of this! Because I’ve been a mentor before I started this internship, I had already experienced going through the training weekend and heading to schools with the Mentor kit, so I was in a perfect place to help make decisions about the future of this project. This included streamlining what we have, making the project a much more creative environment for future mentors to create and adapt sessions as they see fit – something that had already been done to great effect in the first cycle, and something that will hopefully really help inspire many mentors as well as their mentees.
All in all I can say looking back at this summer, I have gained a lot and if I had the chance I would do it all over again. The team have been fantastic to work with and I have really had my eyes opened in how the science outreach industry operates. I give many thanks to Rosie Mellors and Dr Chris North for this opportunity, and can’t wait to continue working with them as a mentor over the next year.
If I had to repeat this summer, I know I would do it all over again!