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Future physicists

Students from the Ogden Ark Partnership visited Culham to get a better understanding of real-world fusion physics.

Published: 20 July 2022

Ragavan Nagaratnam is Network Lead Teacher for KS5 Physics at the Ark Globe Academy and co-ordinator for the Ogden Ark Partnership. One of the aims of their Ogden Ark Partnership is to increase the number of students taking physics at GSCE, A-level and at university, particularly for under-privileged and under-represented students.

As part of this objective, Ragavan has recently led a trip to the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. On the visit approximately 50 students and seven physics teachers from five different Ark schools attended a talk on the current developments in nuclear fusion. The students participated by answering and asking great questions. The student then took a tour around the centre visiting different departments from materials to robotics and finally looking inside a section of the donut shaped fusion machine.

“As well as improving their understanding of nuclear physics, the trip made the students aware of the type of careers available in science,” says Ragavan. “This is particularly useful as most students who attended will be the first in their family to enter university or a STEM career.”

“The trip was really useful for the students,” he continues. “They saw how a large-scale project, like JET fusion machine, involves many teams from across the world working together and they saw the need for future physicists, engineers and computer scientists. Teachers also felt inspired and noted the importance of doing more trips and events like these.”

Around 50 per cent of the current ARK Year 12 physics A-level cohort are applying for a physics course at university and others are going for engineering and computer science. “We are really pleased to see our students continuing their STEM journey,” adds Ragavan. “Visits like this raise awareness and understanding of careers and opportunities from physics, as well as raising the profile of physics across the Academy and hopefully encouraging more students to take physics further.”

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