CQP Summer School in Quantum Photonics

17 September 2015

In early August, the Centre for Quantum Photonics (CQP) organised its first Summer School. Aimed at encouraging more young people to study physics by introducing them to world-class science and research, the school was attended by 14 young people from as far away as Rome, all of whom came to Bristol to learn more about the growing and exciting field quantum photonics.

CQP Summer School in Quantum Photonics

The summer school was organised and led by Mr Javier Sabines, a PhD student at the Centre for Quantum Photonics (CQP), who was inspired by his participation in an educational project in Mexico called "Clubes de Ciencia". Clubes de Ciencia is a network of scientists offering free of charge intensive courses and workshops to high school students, with the aim of expanding access to high quality science education in Mexico. Javier brought the concept back to CQP at the beginning of this year and was encouraged by the enthusiastic support of other staff and students within the team. A team of student and post-doctoral researchers worked together in order to organise a week long summer school targeted at students aged 16 to 19. The resources, facilities and expertise on hand in such a large and thriving research group such as CQP were crucial in delivering a successful summer school which also received support from the regional office of the Institute of Physics (IOP).

Through a series of interactive activities, experiments, and demonstrations the students were able to gain an understanding of topics such as entanglement, optical communications, and quantum computing. Some of the activities enjoyed by the students included setting up an optical data link to transmit sound across a room and a hands-on demonstration of quantum key distribution. Quantum Photonics is not something normally covered in A-Level physics, so it was an excellent opportunity for the students to learn about this fascinating area of physics in more depth.

During the feedback session, one attendee, Frederic Shirley, from Bridgwater in Somerset, said: "I am definitely more interested in studying physics, as this summer school has cemented my interest in physics, especially optics and quantum information."

In addition to the science and technical education, summer school instructors shared their personal experiences as scientists, providing useful tips for successful research and increasing the students’ awareness of the potential career options available with a scientific degree.

"This week has been invaluable in altering my perspectives on science and research. It gave a very useful insight into what a research career was like," said Matt Alderton from Thornbury near Bristol.

CQP hopes to track the progress of the Summer School students and encourage them to run similar initiatives within own communities, creating a network of young people who will become advocates for science education and pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm to other students.

CQP summer school will continue to run as an annual event and will be even bigger in 2016, bringing in other research groups from within the School of Physics, the University of Bristol and around the UK.