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Cambridge STEM Day

When we arrived at Gonville and Caius we were seated in a lecture hall for our first presentation which was from Rosie Costello, who is the Schools Liaison Officer for the college. This presentation was to inform us about how the Oxbridge applications process is quite different in comparison to most others, as well as how they work as collegiate universities. It included a lot about some of the misconceptions people have about Oxbridge and encouraging us to apply, not being put off by any of the stereotypes.

This was followed by our first lectures of the day, there were two which we could choose between. One being focused on biological sciences, the other a maths lecture. I attended the maths lecture, where we were spoken to about probability through different coin games. The lecturer repeated throughout the hour that maths at university isn’t all about complicated methods, it is also important to be able to consider more complex problems applying really simple maths. It was very engaging and we were encouraged to contribute, making it as much like a real lecture as possible.

After this the two groups joined again and we had a short question and answer session with two second year students at the college, where we were talking about university experience at Cambridge and what some different courses are like in terms of workload and content. This was followed by a short tour of the college, we visited the library and dining hall amongst other places, learning some interesting facts about some of the areas of the college. We got to have a look in some places we wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise, giving us an excellent insight into the life of a university student.

This was followed by the beginning of a presentation on the details of application from earlier and how the process works. Shortly after we had a cooked meal for lunch in the college dining hall, which gave us a taste of the kind of food that is provided at Gonville and Caius.

Then came our next lectures, either Natural Sciences or Engineering. I chose engineering, where we had a lecturer speak to us about the differences between different types of engineering and how she started out as a structural engineer, but now works on brain cancer cells and biological engineering. This gave us an insight into how later on in university it is possible to specialise into different areas because of the number of transferable skills you gain through each of the courses. The bulk of the lecture focused on how properties of materials are important on both a microscopic and macroscopic level and the same principles can be applied across both.

The day concluded with a final lecture, with everyone all together, about chemical structures. This included the use of diffraction in identifying structures of objects and how x rays work in a similar way, this was presented to us by one of the Cambridge admission officers, who covers it within his subjects. Then we had the rest of the admissions presentation, followed by small group discussions about interview questions.

We were then allowed some free time in Cambridge before catching the train home. Overall the day was very useful in informing us about Oxbridge and why it would be beneficial for us to apply, as well as giving us a good insight into life as a university student.

By Maddie Curl