ORBYTS – A Student’s Perspective

This article was written by Georgia White, who is part of the first cohort of ORBYTS students. Georgia is a Year 12 student at Highams Park School.

We first got told about the ORBYTS (Original Research By Young Twinkle Students) project by our physics teacher, Clara Sousa-Silva, at Highams Park School; as you could imagine we were all very excited. After getting through the interview stage and being told that I was eligible for this project alongside a handful of my peers, I was buzzing to start.

We went to the launch at UCL on the 25th of January, where we met a number of very interesting and knowledgeable people. There were Professor Giovanna Tinetti (the science lead for the Twinkle mission), Professor Jonathan Tennyson (senior advisor for Twinkle) and Dr Marcell Tessenyi (Project Manager for the Twinkle mission). To even be able to meet these people was amazing – to be given a chance to talk about the project and just to have a normal conversation with them was unbelievable. I know everyone says that they’re just normal people but let’s face it – how many people can say they had lunch with the person who runs the Twinkle mission? There was of course also my teacher Dr Clara Sousa-Silva (runs EduTwinkle, and ORBYTS), without whom I would have never been given this chance, and I’m sure I speak on the behalf of my peers as well when I say that we are all very grateful for this opportunity. There were the mentors that will be helping us along this journey, Dr Laura McKemmish and Emma Barton. The other two mentors, Alec Owens and Katy Chubb, weren’t able to be present at the launch.

At the launch, Professor Jonathan Tennyson gave us a quick run through of what we were going to be doing on the mission – by which I can safely say we were all left more than slightly confused – but with the help of our mentors and our excitement and dedication I’m sure that we will pick it up very quickly! In my group we will be looking at where methane is present in the extrasolar planets and creating a description of its energies. We had some lunch (which I’m sure everyone would agree was very nice) and got to talk to the scientists, followed by a tour of the UCL campus.

We got to see some of the lecture halls and some of the labs, where we saw first year physics undergraduates doing their own projects.

I look forward to venturing on this mission (pardon the pun), which will test me and make me more knowledgeable but also be a chance to have fun and explore the world of science.