Our daily lives at school are a lot of fun, if you like science. It can also be quite useful, if you plan to study science at the university. You usually learn basic concepts of science in the regular school - about acids in chemistry, about electricity in physics or about genes in biology. This is certainly important for your education, but you are missing a critical part - the scientific method.
How do we ask questions about the phenomena in nature? How do we answer them? And how can you be sure about what you've found? The Summer School of Science is the place to learn all about it. Since we believe that the best way to learn is by example and practice, we'll put you in the position of being a scientist. You will work on a very specific topic with a project leader and a team of few other participants. Together, you will specify the problem, design the experiment and analyze the results to answer one of the interesting questions in science.
You might be wondering what are these projects and swapshops and how does it actually all look like. Every year before the application starts, we show you description of available projects. Usually it contains information about the topic itself and gives you a snapshot of what techniques will you use there.
You will get more information on your first day at School when every project leader gives a short talk explaining what is it all about and what is expected from you. Once everyone represents their projects, you will have to note down your interest in every of the project which will allow your organizers to assign you appropriately to a project. It can happen that you don’t get your top project due to high demand, or not stating well enough your interests during interviews. However keep in mind that whatever you will be assigned to, you will indeed learn a lot and expand your overviews of the science. As a matter of fact, every year our project leaders are arguing that they would like to have possibility to learn something from other areas of science since it’s all very interesting.
The same procedure happens during swapshops. Your swapshop leaders will represent their workshops in few sentences, and you will have to grade them according to your interest. Bare in mind that the main idea of swapshops is to exchange your current views by learning something completely different. So rather than signing up for a biology swapshop while you are doing biology project, you should pick something from physics or computer science. Just to give you a heads up, if you didn’t follow that rule, organizers will still assign you to a workshop of a different science field than your current project.
What you are surely interested in is how does a normal day at school look like. In short, it looks like a regular day in a life of scientist. You will work for approximately 8 hours a day, with some breaks in between. Some days, the breaks might be longer, some days it might be shorter, depending on the load of work for your project. Some days you will have to make a small presentation, some days you might solve some equations or prepare some experiments. It is a highly dynamic environment where one doesn’t have a fixed schedule as such. So you can expect everything.
There won’t be many breaks, so don’t expect that you will have time to wander around Pozega. However, we will make a nice field trip so you can relax and enjoy the surroundings of the city, or even better, somewhere in the nature.
Usual day looks like this:
BREAKFAST TIME (8 AM - 9 AM)
An organizer: "Wake up participants, it’s time to get some power-ups! Let’s grab some breakfast, your experiments are waiting for you!"
PROJECT TIME (9 AM - 1 PM)
A project leader: "So, today we will learn about experiments for DNA analysis. Do you know what is DNA? How could we separate small fragments?
(several hours later) Wow, we have managed to have our small fragments separated from the big ones, isn’t that nice?"
LUNCH TIME (1 PM - 2 PM)
An organizer: "Project leaders, it’s time for you to let your students go. They need some brain food. And you might use some as well, you do know that coffee isn’t really a proper food, don’t you?"
PROJECT TIME (2 PM - 6 PM)
A project leader: "Ok, so today we have managed to cover electrophoresis. They were quite fast with catching that one up. What if tomorrow I challenge them with fragments of nearly similar size? I wonder if they will get the idea of changing the gel..."
DINNER TIME (6:30 PM - 7:30 PM)
An organizer: "Time to get some food. Today, we will have a special guest with us - a Nobel prize winner. You can join him during dinner, I am sure it might be an interesting conversation. Just don’t forget to be on time for the lecture!"
LECTURE TIME (8 PM - 9:30 PM)
A Nobel prize winner: "And this is how after several years I have discovered the structure of DNA..."
LEISURE TIME (9:30 PM - 11 PM)
(noises coming from everywhere, some people singing and playing guitar, some people chatting about their countries, some people discussing what are they doing here, some are playing some small games...)
A participant: "Well, Switzerland is not as cold as they say. I mean, in the cities you don’t have so much snow. But if you go to mountains, than it can be super cold. But if you ski, you are anyway heating up like crazy.."
English is practically the official language of science. Most of the scientific literature is written in English, and most of the communication at conferences or summer schools happens in English. If you choose to study chemistry, biology or physics you will have to use textbooks written in English very early. So this is a good way to start.
You think that your English is not good enough? If you can express yourself, communicate and share your ideas - it is enough! And another thing, keep in mind that this is an international school. There might be people coming from Spain, Germany, Hungary… And everyone wants to talk to each other! Doesn’t matter where you come from, it is polite to talk in the language everyone understands. You might be surprised how many new words you might learn, or new things about your new friends.