Higgs Boson Ale in a brown bottle and the drink poured into a pint glass

Lots of time to spare this summer holiday and nothing to do? It does seem to be raining a lot outside. If you're currently studying college and thinking about what to do next, here are some science-based courses to help you understand what you might be taught at university, the way in which you are taught at university, and whether you actually enjoy it and want to go to uni! It will also give something to talk about on your UCAS form and when you go to interviews. Our pick of courses out this summer range from how, next time you need that new transplant, 3D printing will be taking you all the way, to what the Higgs Boson actually is as, frankly, no one outside CERN has a clue.

Anatomy: Know your Abdomen 

This course will help you identify the positions of the organs within the abdomen, as well as becoming acquainted with common anatomical terminology used to talk about organs and structures and their position relative to each other. You’ll look at the anterior (front) abdominal wall, exploring how the ‘abs’ are considered in relation to health and beauty. You’ll then move on to look at the composition of the gastrointestinal tract. Focussing on common problems that can occur in this tract, you’ll hear from an abdominal surgeon about the work he does to treat and cure such problems.

This course has been specifically designed for those studying at school or college, and will enrich and extend your knowledge in a specific topic and develop your transferable skills. This course aims to help you with make decisions about which subject to study at university and will give you examples and evidence when developing your university application.

Bioprinting: 3D Printing Body Parts

The world of medicine and biomaterials has collided with advances in 3D printing. In a recent case, an infant was born with a rare and life-threatening birth defect, and was unable to breath unaided. A CT scan of the boy’s airways was used to 3D print a bio-sleeve, which was a perfect fit for his bronchus. The material used dissolves in the body, giving the boy’s bronchus time to grow strong, before disappearing, without the need for surgery.This incredible story is an early example of a new clinical paradigm in biomedicine: 3D bioprinting.

This course tells the story of this revolution, introducing you to commonly used biomaterials, including metals, ceramics and polymers, and how bioprinting techniques, such as selective laser melting, hot-melt extrusion and inkjet printing, work. Through case studies - ranging from hip implants to facial transplants to lab-grown organs - the course answers questions such as: what is 3D printing and how did it come about?; is it really possible to print structures that incorporate both living and artificial components?; how long before we can print whole body organs for transplants?; what is possible right now, and what will be possible in 20 and 50 years’ time?; and what are the limitations of this technology?

Liver Transplant: the Ins and Outs

In this course you'll learn about the fascinating field of liver transplantation. The course covers the history of liver transplantation - from early experiments in the late 1960s to exciting new technological advances in organ preservation happening today. You will find out why there is such an increasing global need for liver transplants, and look at the science behind the operation and the drugs used to prevent organ rejection. The course also discuss the intriguing and unique biology of the liver, explaining how one donor organ can help two patients in need, and how some people can eventually manage without any anti-rejection medication.

Soils: Introducing the World Beneath Our Feet

Soils are a fantastically complex environment, teeming with life and supporting our most fundamental environmental processes. However, they are increasingly under threat and our soil resource is a finite one. Starting from what soil is and how soils form this course takes a journey through the soil, not just learning about the basics of soil science but also about life in the soil. It then looks at why soil is so important and investigate the topic of soil security - a topic relevant to the past and present. Finally you'll learn about how and why soils are under threat both at a local and global scale. Throughout this course you'll look at questions such as; what is soil made of?; why are soil microbes so important?; how does the rise and fall of civilisations depend on soils?; and how is climate change impacting on soils? You will also get the chance to get your hands dirty with a series of activities aiming to give you practical experience of assessing soil properties and conditions.

Biochemistry: the Molecules of Life

Biochemistry brings together all of the sciences to study the chemical and physical processes that occur in living organisms. As a scientific discipline in its own right, biochemistry has a major impact on all areas of the life sciences and biochemists are in high demand among employers. This biochemistry course outlines the background and history of the field, and its contemporary significance in the life sciences. It’s ideal if you enjoy biology and chemistry at school, and are thinking about studying or working in biochemistry as a distinct subject.

By the end of the course, you will be able to: discuss how biochemistry brings together the natural sciences, to describe the chemical basis of living systems; describe the events and scientists that have been significant during the historical development of biochemistry; describe the seminal experiments that led to significant advances in biochemical knowledge; discuss where biochemistry will play a role in future scientific advances, such as bioenergy, pharmaceuticals and synthetic biology; and recognise the wide range of jobs and career opportunities that become possible as a biochemistry graduate.

Real World Calculus: How Maths Drives Formula One and Launches Angry Birds

Mathematics is at the heart of many aspects of modern life. Whether playing a game on your mobile phone, watching a Grand Prix or waking up to sunlight in the morning, maths (and more precisely, calculus) is behind the scenes. Maths is also used in many disciplines - from economics to engineering, biology to geography. But many of us struggle with maths, and find formulae and theories difficult to grasp, meaning that we can find ourselves at a disadvantage when thinking about certain careers. The aim of this course is to demonstrate the practical uses of calculus and show that maths need not be daunting. It will give a basic introduction to the subject, with links to further resources for those who want to study at a more advanced level.

The course takes familiar, real world activities, such as motor racing and mobile games like Angry Birds, and use them to uncover the basic elements of calculus. It looks at key ideas of calculus and how they are applied in real life situations: differentiation - how things change; integration - how we put these changes together to decide what will happen in the future; and the fundamental theorem of calculus - how differentiation and integration are related.

Discovery of the Higgs Boson

The discovery of a new fundamental particle at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), CERN is the latest step in a long quest seeking to answer one of physics’ most enduring questions: why do particles have mass? The experiments’ much anticipated success confirms predictions made decades earlier by Peter Higgs and others, and offers a glimpse into a universe of physics beyond the Standard Model.

This course introduces the theoretical tools needed to appreciate the discovery, and presents the elementary particles that have been discovered at the tiniest scales ever explored. Beginning with basic concepts in classical mechanics, the story unfolds through relativity and quantum mechanics, describing forces, matter and the unification of theories with an understanding driven by the tools of mathematics.

Narrating the journey through experimental results which led to the discovery in 2012, the course invites you to learn from a team of world-class physicists at Edinburgh University. 

Maths for Humans: Inverse Relations and Power Laws 

This course looks at a wide spectrum of interesting, and often surprising, mathematical relationships in our everyday world. You'll look at inverse relations, which complement direct relationships; power laws that occur in economics, physics and biology; as well as curious applications of the logarithm function. You’ll visualise these real-world interconnections using graph paper and pencil, and also modern graphing software such as GeoGebra and Desmos.

The functions and graphs in this course help us to make predictions, evaluate actions and test theories about population distributions, the frequencies of common words in texts, scaling laws in biology and much more. You’ll even see some applications to detecting fraud!

Understanding basic mathematical relationships is vital to many fields of study: biology, engineering, business, economics, political science and design. By the end of this course, you’ll have hands-on experience with a wide range of explicit examples, be familiar with a core area of pre-calculus mathematics, and be ready to go on to more advanced study of calculus or linear algebra. 

Birds eye view of the streets and buildings of a city

Re-Enchanting the City: Designing the Human Habitat

This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary nature of city making. The focus is on a cutting-edge, high-density urban infill project, Central Park, in contemporary Sydney, and the project is used to explore the interdependencies of the professions at play; urban design, architecture, construction management, planning, landscape architecture, interior architecture and industrial design. You'll investigate the entire development process from the earliest planning and site purchases through to completion, and from the broad contextual scale through to the design intricacies. In so doing, you'll examine design innovations in green technologies, structure, construction, environmental and building service, framing this within the wider context of infrastructure, governance and the political economy.

You will engage in critical discussion from different perspectives including design and sustainability. You will also analyse the cultural, environmental and political conversations that drive the development, as well as gaining an understanding of how key players interact in city making. Throughout the course you will see how different built environment disciplines relate in this process of planning and creating a city. Drawing on designers, thinkers and developers that are leading their professions, this course will investigate a key question facing global cities today: how do we engage local democracy to make urban density both sustainable and poetic?

Through Engineers’ Eyes: Engineering Mechanics by Experiment, Analysis and Design

When you design anything, how do you know that the design will work? You need Engineering Mechanics - the science-based analysis that engineers use to predict how their designs will perform, so they can meet their responsibilities for performance and safety. It starts with physics - forces, equilibrium, acceleration, gravity - but then engineers adapt it to their own purposes

In this course, you will learn analytical skills, use them to understand experiments, and apply them in design. You will be living in the engineer’s world. Using activities and experiments with common household items such as rubber bands, paper clips, string and cardboard, a toy vehicle, you'll consolidate your learning. 

Begin Robotics

Robots today are roving Mars, collecting data in dangerous environments, hoovering our floors, lifting patients in hospital, building cars and entertaining us in films. And, if you share Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking’s world view, the super intelligent ones may one day bring about the end of the human race. This courses starts by looking at some of the earliest, real and fictional robots ever invented: from musical automata in 13th century Iraq to Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical lion; from the early 20th century science fiction of “Metropolis” and Asimov to the first Mars lander in 1996. After dipping into robot history you will be guided you through the basics using a combination of videos, animations, screencasts, articles, discussions and quizzes and you’ll explore the internals of mobile robots. You’ll find out about the individual components of robot anatomy (the mechanics, electronics and computer “brain”) and how they relate to one another and to the sensors - the parts that enable the machine to perceive its surroundings. Next, you’ll tackle the motors: how do you control your robot to help it avoid obstacles, head in the right direction and travel at an optimum speed?

Finally, you’ll investigate the thought-provoking topic of robot behaviour: what can we learn about developing robots based on what we know about living systems?; if we introduce a simple “brain”, what influence does this have on the robot’s behaviour?; how is a robot’s movement specified by what it perceives?; and can we create robots with basic instincts, and the ability to learn and co-operate with one another? 

Cracking Mechanics: Further Maths for Engineers

This course is designed to introduce you to some of the physics and maths that engineers find useful. The content comprises: parts of A-level maths and further maths (mechanics); the physical laws which this maths is used to model; and examples of how these skills are employed in mechanical, aerospace, civil, environmental, materials and electrical engineering.

The course is aimed at A-level students and first year undergraduates who want to “up-skill” themselves with some of the maths they’ve not been taught or have forgotten. A-level maths is useful but not essential.

Every week has a different theme, such as forces, motion or energy, and each week is split into bite-sized chunks, taking less than 30 minutes per day. You’ll learn maths skills like: calculus (integration, differentiation, and solving differential equations); trigonometry (e.g. resolving forces); and geometry (calculating where things are). You’ll learn laws of physics like Newton’s laws of motion and the laws of thermodynamics. Finally, you’ll see how these tools and principles allow engineers to design: planes, cars, skyscrapers, bridges, dams, ICT networks, self-healing materials, robots, water treatment systems, wind turbines, hydro-power systems, biofuel plants.

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