On Tuesday I presented my work at the PGR symposium, a day long science festival celebrating the hugely diverse research that goes on at Imperial College. I spent ages on my slides, and they included molecules falling in love, falling like tetris pieces and conducting charges. The total file size was 70 Mb, and I practised it so often to my mom I could recite the whole 12 minute talk without slides. I was presenting the ever catchy ‘Impact of Molecular Orientation on Device Performance Probed with Raman Spectroscopy’ (natch). Anyway.. heart racing, one slide in …the projector broke. As I spoke about the need for flexible displays. How great is that. I managed to (somehow) save it though, and trick the insanely intelligent judge Professor Jerome Gauntlett into thinking I should win. The prize is £ 200, a very Imperial College certificate (with the wrong logo on) and the endless glory associated with winning.
On Wednesday I hosted an event with the IOP, aimed to get PG students to take up their teacher training scholarships. It’s a clever scheme where the IOP give you £25,000 to start a PGCE and eventually become a physics teacher. The scheme isn’t only a teacher training scheme but provides you with a personal IOP mentor, who’ll help you write your lesson materials, teach you how to generate iPad content and prep you for life in the class room. I enjoyed the event; as did my office- there was Dominos pizza provided (courtesy of the IOP). The promised ‘goodie bag’ was more bag than good (there were just flyers inside) but there was good info from a real life physics teacher (an ex-IC graduate) and a knowledgeable representative from the Department of Education. My only problem with the scheme is that no part of it is aimed at postgraduates- there is nothing different in the training (or bursary) if you’ve done a four year PhD. I’m not saying I’ve achieved a HUGE amount in the past four years, but definitely enough to be treated slightly differently- I’ve taught first year undergraduates every year, given lots of lectures for outreach, spoken at academic conferences, written scientific peer-reviewed papers: it must be worth something!
Thursday was the end of my two week outreach stint, when I spoke about my science to fourteen year olds (I actually didn’t know they were fourteen when I prepared the slides). We made it work though- I convinced them to get excited about molecular solar cells via the sweet sweet notes of chocolate. I had some sweet questions and super keen teachers, and I’ve fully mastered the MacBook Air vs. Imperial projectors war that has been raging of late….