The best six days EVER

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So, I recently attended the EU Contest for Young Scientists in Paris. As you can see from the title it was, y’know, okay. This post will elaborate on tweets I posted while at EUCYS (from @courtney_cspark in case you’re not already following). I was one of three UK representatives selected at the Big Bang Fair in March.

courtney_spark Have just realised that the blue background on part of my EUCYS posters is a tad too dark. The design was fine when I used it before! 🙁 –11:55 PM Sep 10th from Echofon

The night before getting the Eurostar to Paris I only got about three hours sleep – as well as the poster anxiety, there was the fact the presentation I wanted to have on loop on my stand refused to save on my netbook, and of course the general I DON’T DESERVE TO BE GOING ON A FREE HOLIDAY WITH LOTS OF SMART PEOPLE angst.

courtney_spark On the Newark to London train. (I promise these tweets will get interesting soon.) –10:24 AM Sep 11th from Echofon

Managed to get up in the end though. Whether the above promise was fulfilled is left to the reader’s discretion…

courtney_spark Arrived here okay! Dinner at the Palais de la découverte, plus several taxi and coach rides through Paris (it’s esp nice after dark!) –9:43 PM Sep 11th from txt

The contest was held at the Palais de la découverte – the UK team (Hannah Stuart, Robert Tann and me, plus Ellie Chambers, our “escort”) arrived too late for the scheduled set-up time (and most of the opening ceremony), but we arrived safely after getting better acquainted on the train and got to see a bit of Paris after dark. We also got bright red bags full of stuff, including bright yellow visibility jackets (though thankfully didn’t have to use them at all).

 courtney_spark Setting up stands now – I am surrounded by physics projects (plus a couple of social sciences ones) that all look fantastic! –9:45 AM Sep 12th from txt

Unlike the Big Bang Fair, all the EUCYS projects were organised by field – this was advantageous for me because it gave me a fighting chance of understanding a few of the projects around me! I still have no clue how the jury picked winning projects, considering how high quality all the stands I saw were (and how many I couldn’t even begin to understand).

courtney_spark Three hour long judging session starts soon! –1:15 PM Sep 12th from txt

“Judging sessions” refers to “jury visits” – there were seventeen jury members altogether from a range of different fields – coincidentally the head of the jury teaches at the university I’ll be going to soon, in the same department! (He didn’t judge Hannah, Robert or me for obvious reasons, but he did come round to say “hi” and ask about our projects informally). In the morning we also had a lecture from a representative of the European Patent Office.

courtney_cspark I didn’t get judged today, but demonstrations at the Palais were great! (it is the oldest interactive museum in the world!) –5:45 PM Sep 12th from txt

I attended two demonstration sessions: electromagnetism, in which we watched lightning being created artificially, and “Galileo’s Merry-go-round”, in which some of us sat on a carousel and felt and saw the effects of forces acting on us as we spun round. If you go to Paris I really recommend you visit the Palais (as I will if/when I return) – it has a huge range of exhibits and the emphasis is on “hands-on” learning (though be warned all the information on the exhibits is in French).

courtney_cspark Just about to go for a Seine cruise, then onto the Eiffel Tower 🙂 –5:48 PM Sep 12th from txt

EUCYS has a good balance between competition and social elements – we got to do a lot of touristy things in addition to being judged and meeting fellow yougn scientists! The weather for both the cruise and the Eiffel Tower was great (though it got cold and wet later in the week) and it was great to see Paris from the water. If you want to watch a video of our cruise you can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOSkI8MJLBM

courtney_cspark We’re on the Eiffel Tower now – it’s all lit up as well! –7:42 PM Sep 12th from txt

We had to wait a bit until we could go into the restaurant for dinner, so many people (including me) had a wander about the first floor of the Tower and took in the sights and sounds of Paris by evening. We watched what was apparently Europe’s largest firework display across the city! Unfortunately one of the UK representatives (who shall remain nameless) managed to get lost on the second floor of the Tower…

courtney_cspark Dinner at the Eiffel Tower was good + very posh (there was foam :-o) but French coffee = dégoutant… –10:36 PM Sep 12th from txt

I should clarify because my parents were confused and that might mean other people were too – the foam was of the Heston Blumental-y type that is often found on plates in posh eateries. Anyway, French coffee is too strong and bitter for my liking (especially just before bedtime). I have no clue why I randomly used a French word.

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