January 2016 news round-up

UO_UTC-Oxfordshire-Newsletter-header-bannerProfessor Brian Cox inspires students at school’s official launch

DSC_0219Physicist and television presenter Brian Cox inspired the next generation of scientists as he officially opened UTC Oxfordshire on 26 January.

The presenter of BBC’s Stargazing Live worked with pupils in the school’s science laboratories before addressing an audience of around 200 guests.

A team from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) had begun the day by launching a student challenge to build and launch their own satellite. Brian visited groups working on the challenge before continuing the space theme with a talk on ‘exploring the universe’.

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Ed Vaizey MP debates democracy and British values with UTC students

Copy of EdVaizeyUTC Oxfordshire students recently welcomed local MP, Ed Vaizey, into the school.

The MP for Didcot and Wantage spoke to students about why he became an MP and the role the Conservative Party played in the creation of the UTC movement.

The overall theme was democracy and British values. The students were delighted to get the opportunity to ask him a range of questions and get his own personal view on subjects including Syrian air strikes and whether or not Britain should leave the European Union.

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Students complete MINI dashboard design project

BCopy of DSC_0053efore Christmas, UTC Oxfordshire students were busy working on their latest partner project – designing a new dashboard for the iconic MINI.

Following presentations by all teams on 16 December, four teams were chosen from each year group to present their designs to a panel from the MINI plant in Cowley.

The judges were impressed with the quality of the designs and how the teams worked together to present their ideas. Much work had gone into researching the history of the MINI model. They took into account customer needs, style, price and the customisable nature of MINI cars, as well as keeping it up to date and fresh.

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Students visit Culham as employer-led project gets underway

DSC_0754Students from UTC Oxfordshire are currently working on an employer-led project with Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE).

The project consists of two parts. Half of the students are programming Vex robots to move tiles by remote handling, mimicking the work done at CCFE to maintain and upgrade nuclear fusion reactors. The other half of the group are working on a science communication project for primary school children, prompted by a desire to explain more clearly the work done at Culham.

To understand more about fusion energy, the research conducted at Culham and routes into engineering careers, the students at UTC Oxfordshire are visiting the site in groups.

Our sixth form engineering students recently visited the centre and were particularly fascinated by the thermal imaging cameras, as well as the training for remote handling. One trainee was learning how to use the robotic arms by being challenged to complete a game of Jenga – no easy task with 30 students watching!

We look forward to seeing how the students progress through the project over the coming weeks.

Students are the first to visit Oxford Instruments

Oxford Instruments2On Wednesday 13 January, our Year 12 physics students visited Oxford Instruments at Tubney Wood.

This was the first school visit the company has ever hosted, so we were delighted to have been given the opportunity.

Students were able to learn how the company uses physics to produce its complex range of equipment, including fridges that can cool materials to 0.01 degrees above absolute zero (-273.14 degrees C). Each of these fridges costs half a million pounds and most universities across the world now have one.

Students were given the opportunity to see Oxford Instruments’ range of detectors and analysis equipment and have a go with hand-held analysers that tell the composition of a metal through a non-invasive technique. The analysers use Einstein’s photo-electric effect, which students have studied this year as part of their course.

The experience was highly valued by our students, one of whom described the trip as “awesome”.

Lego League Trash Challenge winners

LegoA team of UTC students recently won two trophies through taking part in the Lego League Trash Challenge.

The competition consisted of two parts. The first was designing, building and programming a robot to complete a series of missions and challenges, and the second was producing an innovative solution to the students’ own problem related to recycling.

On the day itself, the three judges interviewed the team about how they worked together, wanting them to demonstrate teamwork and cooperation. The technical challenge involved explaining the design and build process for the team’s robot. Students then had to present their solution to the recycling problem to a panel of judges before finally placing their robot on a map and running it to complete the challenges set on the course.

Overall, this team won two out of the five trophies; the first for core values and how well they worked as a team, and the second for their excellent recycling presentation.

One of the participants said: “It was a really good experience and great opportunity. Students really enjoyed working with two great CCFE apprentices who not only supported them in the challenge, but also inspired the team with information about different career opportunities for the future. Next year the team want to try again and get through to the national finals.”

Key dates and events

Our next taster event is for Sixth Form students on Monday 21 March, 5-7pm. Find out more and register.

Keep in touch

Clean and color speech balloons with simbolsYou can also keep up to date with the latest developments of UTC Oxfordshire through our website and social media channels:


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