Downing Outreach Blog

South West Open Day 2016

16 Sep 2016 | Lauren Payne | Uncategorised

On the 20-22 June, 39 Year 12 students from our link areas of Cornwall, Devon, and Dorset came up to Cambridge for the 2016 South West Open Day! This event is a three-day residential, where students get the opportunity to attend academic tasters, information sessions, and enjoy free time in the city.

The event schedule was full to the brim with sessions, which started as soon as the students arrived off the train. We began with some classic icebreakers, including an opportunity for students to mark where they lived on our new, giant map of the South West!

Can you spot where the pins are?

Our Admissions Tutors, Dr Marta Correia and Dr Marcus Tomalin, then gave a talk on the application process followed by workshops on personal statements and interviews. To give a really good sense of what a Cambridge interview is like, we always show students the University’s video series on this topic, which is an incredibly accurate depiction of what a Cambridge interview is actually like!

The second day was dominated by academic taster sessions across University faculties. The group of Medics, Natural Scientists (Biological), and Veterinary Medics went to the MRI Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, where they attended a brilliant morning session of scientific talks, experiment demos and research lab tours. One student said they ‘absolutely loved the MRC experience’ coupled with the Genetics and Biology Lectures later in the day, and felt they now appreciated what a career in research would be like.

Our group of Physicists, Computer Scientists, and Mathematicians visited the Cavendish Laboratory where they were able to see the Faculty, engage in an experiment, and participate in an Isaac Physics workshop. Isaac Physics is a great resource for students who want to improve their problem-solving abilities, which is a key skill for undergraduate courses in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences. Visit the Isaac Physics website now to get started on your own assignments and projects!

For our group of Arts students, the College Curator Rachel Rose Smith gave an exclusive tour of the Ai Wei Wei: Cubes and Trees exhibition, which had not yet been launched to the public! Rachel is from the South West herself, and much of her academic work centred around the growing art movement in St Ives, Cornwall, which she discussed during a pre-tour presentation. Downing is very lucky to have the Heong Gallery on-site, a new hub for Modern Art in Cambridge that is open to the public and University members to enjoy, free of charge. To find out more, follow the Heong Gallery on Twitter!

1-downing-heong-gallery-timrawle aiweiwei-montage

The afternoon was spent on a series of teaching sessions hosted in Downing, including a talk on whether the Ancient Greeks were illiterate, a discussion of recent research in the fields of Genetics and Infectious Diseases, as well as other lectures in Engineering and Mathematics. Our Arts students also got the opportunity to sample a taster supervision with some of our Fellows. Supervisions are small-group teaching sessions, often featuring 1-4 undergraduates with one supervisor, where they will go through essays or problem sheets prepared earlier in the week; they are a core part of the University’s teaching provision. Geography, History, and Politics students discussed the role Ai Wei Wei’s art played in wider political conversations, whilst our English Literature and Linguist attendees went through a close-reading exercise. Being very engaged with your subject is key to succeeding as a university student, so if you’re interested in finding out more or experiencing these types of sessions for yourself, you can often find similar experiences online. Visit the resources section of this website to find videos, podcasts, talks, and exercises that will help you #ExploreYourSubject outside of the classroom!

The timetable also included lots of free time so that students could explore Cambridge and discover the city and its Colleges. Our team of current undergraduate students were there throughout the South West Open Day to answer any questions students had about University life and they also proved great tour guides, able to show the group all of the city’s must-see locations!

Very happy and helpful undergrads!
Very happy and helpful undergrads!

This is the 17th year that Downing has run the South West Open Day and we really look forward to welcoming more students to this event in 2017 and beyond. Check the Discover Downing Events page for details, to be released in April 2017!

Lauren Payne

I studied English at Emmanuel College from 2012-2015, before moving over to Downing to start as the full-time School and College Liaison Officer. My role involves organising outreach work primarily in the South West, advising both students and teachers in all things related to Cambridge and Higher Education more generally.