Original Research By Young Twinkle Students
Linking young PhD and post-doc scientists with groups of sixth form students to produce original, publishable scientific research associated with the Twinkle Space Mission to characterise exoplanetary atmospheres!
Twinkle is a UK-led space mission dedicated to studying the atmospheres of extrasolar planets.
ORBYTS is part of its associated education program, aiming to increase participation in STEM, particularly for under-represented groups, by giving school pupils an opportunity to participate in research from a young age.
The key elements of an ORBYTS program are:
- Research Project related to the Twinkle space mission (noting that we encourage broad interpretations of links across the STEM disciplines, e.g. astrobiology, engineering, chemistry, physics etc) and led by an experienced researcher, usually academic
- ORBYTS Tutor usually PhD student or young post-doc, possibly assisted by undergraduate for large teams. The tutor gains valuable experience supervising a group of students in a full research project.
- School/ Teacher provides pastoral support, teaching experience, potentially recruits students, books room as necessary
- ORBYTS students:We are looking for motivated Year 11 (Australia), Year 12 (UK) students interested in a challenge and being involved in real research. With one PhD student and one other support staff (undergraduate or teacher etc), teams of 10 to start are appropriate. With only one PhD student, teams of 6 are probably more appropriate to start.
- ORBYTS liaison organises funding, coordinating the overall project, potentially recruits
The suggested timetable (for September-June, Northern Hemisphere school year and February-December, Southern Hemisphere school year)
- Late September/ Early-Mid February: Talk given by PhD student at the target schools about Twinkle and the project: combined aim of outreach and recruiting students to the program
- Mid October/ End February: Sign-up deadline
- End October/ Early March: Visit to University with introduction, meeting the teams, opening session and visit to the lecture rooms/ laboratory etc.
- November-December/ March-May: Trial period with suggested two-hr once a fortnight sessions. A shorter mini-project, introduction sessions etc are suggested. Students are given a chance to drop-out after this trial period for any reason.
- January - April / June-October: Fortnightly sessions continue. Tutors should be working towards a loose schedule/ plan to ensure students get a well-rounded experience of the full research cycle, while taking into account all the obstacles that inevitably arise.
- April-May / November: Break for exams (as necessary).
- June-July / Early December: Closing Ceremony at University, including a guest speaker etc. Students who have contributed enough to be considered for authorship are announced (note that in most cases, this will not be all students), and a lead student co-author is announced (the top performing student in each research team).
- August-September/ January-February: Keen students (and eventual co-authors) given the opportunity to continue the research and play a greater role in writing the paper.