Home Latest News Our First Work Experience Week

This summer we hosted our first work experience week with four year 12 students from Oxford Spires. One of the students, Tristan, wrote a piece about their week:

Synthesising aspirin

Throughout our work experience at the Rosalind Franklin Institute, we were introduced to many aspects of scientific work and what it is like for the scientists doing it. The experience included varied sections of biology, physical and organic chemistry making it interesting for students regardless of their scientific preferences.

The scientists we worked with during our sessions made sure that we understood the basics before they elaborated on the complexity of their work. For example, when we were learning about Rapid Evaporation Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (REIMS), the BMS team we worked with made sure that we knew the basics of mass spectrometry before teaching us about what made REIMS different, as well as giving real life examples of where this technique would be used to further emphasize its usefulness.

The teaching style of the sessions throughout the week was very interactive, switching between theoretical and practical work. An example of this would be when we were learning about the synthesis of Aspirin, an incredibly important molecule in medicine. In these sessions, we were first taught about the chemical mechanisms at work during the reaction, before attempting to synthesis some Aspirin ourselves. When we looked at the results of our experiment, we were also given information about the Aspirin drug bought in pharmacies so we could compare and hypothesize as to why the results were different.

Learning about the chemistry behind synthesising aspirin
Students visiting Diamond Light Source

A major aspect of the work experience was also learning about the environment the scientists worked in. Throughout the week, we were given the opportunity to attend a lecture on tomography as well as visit the Mary Lyon Centre and Diamond Light Source. These visits gave us an insight into structure and procedures going on in these establishments, such as the decontamination process we went through when visiting the Mary Lyon Centre.

Towards the end of the week, we were given additional sessions to do further research into the topics that we enjoyed the most and presenting in front of an audience. This was a unique experience as it not only allowed us to properly think about the topics in science we find the most interesting, but it also helped us develop the skills to present our work in quick and concise manner. Overall, this was a very inspiring experience.

Rosalind Franklin Institute