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Work experience student blogs about week at Harper

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12 January 2018

My name is Ben Simmill and I am a year 10 student currently studying my GCSEs. For my one week's work placement I came to Harper Adams University. Over the course of the week, I have done a series of different things in the university, each day being completely different from the last. The week has been really interesting and I have had a lot of fun while I have been here as well. Each day has offered something new for me and taught me something new. I have gained so many skills that are really useful and I wish I had more time here as there is still loads to discover. All that being said though, this week has been really busy for me and I never had nothing to do.

On Monday, I went over to the postgraduate building and found out about the student learning and teaching side of the university; I found out about all the different degrees you can get and the different courses you can undertake. There are so many courses and they are all really different and the good thing is that if you want to study one thing for your degree you can still do other activities that you might just want to do so if you want to do a degree in engineering for example you can still do a course on environmental science or whatever you are interested in and it was fascinating to learn about how the university runs.

On Tuesday, I was in the science labs and I was helping out a student who was doing an experiment in which they were testing the presence of calcium in plasma which took most of the day, it involved taking about 120 different samples and then running them all through a machine to test how much calcium there was in each sample. Seeing some of the equipment that they use in the university labs compared to equipment that they use in high school labs was a surprise to me as there is so much more machinery. They have machinery for everything, like measuring a certain amount of solution into a container, or a big machine that just mixes things up, you don’t have to do anything by hand as there is a machine for everything. It was a really interesting day and there was always something new that I could do and by the end I had learned a lot.

Then on Wednesday, I was helping out the laboratory technicians up in the new science labs. There were so many different things to do whether it was preparing experiments or making up disinfects or looking at weird creatures underneath microscopes. A very interesting day and by the end of it I had yet learnt even more about the equipment that they use in the labs, the many different chemicals that they have and hundreds different creatures in slides that date back to the 1920’s in some cases. Each task I did, I was told all about it and all the fun stuff that they have done in the past and they just made my time as interesting as possible which turned out as another really good (but tiring) day.

The next day, on Thursday, I went over and tried out some entomology which is the study of insects, whether it is a little ant or a giant moth. The people there do a load of research and experiments about crop pests and how they can control or kill them without using pesticide. This was a really interesting day for me as I did so much with different creatures, I tested the population growth of three different species of aphids, I did an experiment to see if nematodes (which are microscopic worms) would kill weevils (these are another creature that kills crops) if they were in a gel, and then I also went over to another entomology building which was like a museum, containing what seemed like every single insect in the world. There were beetles that had backs that looked they were made of jewels, locusts that were the size of blackbirds, and butterflies that looked they were from the dinosaur period. Most of these insects, I didn’t know existed. I got a lot of hands-on experience as well; I was handling aphids and weevils a lot of the day and all in all it was really interesting.

And then on my final day of my week, I was in the marketing department which is the online side of the university where they do stuff with the website and social media and all sorts of stuff like that. The people there wanted me to write a blog about all that I have done this week. It has been a lot of fun this week and I would do an extra week if I could because there is still so much to do here.

My entire week here has been really interesting and there has not been a moment where I have been bored or uninterested. There is always something to do, and whatever I did, the people I did it with made it really fun and fascinating, even if it is not the most excitable task. This week has shown me so many different career paths that I didn’t even know exist and some that I am even considering perusing. It is a really interesting place with so much to do with such a variety of activities. I was here for a week and I have done something different every day that really was remotely different to the last. It’s a really good place to come if you are looking for a work placement, everyone was really nice to me and made my stay as interesting as possible. I would definitely recommend coming here as this experience has been a good one.

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