- Study Helper
Hi, I'm really interested in physics. Does anyone have any tips and stuff that I can do that will enhance my personal statement for physics?
Years ago I designed made and tested a solar water heater using materials bought from B&Q and stuff in the garage and garden shed:
Parabolic solar tracking reflector, 22 mm, gravity fed central heating pipe (painted black) running down the middle of a metre long elongated parabolic reflector made from shiny side (flattened, smoothed and polished) aluminium baking foil stuck to a wooden former.
The pipe fed into a heat exchanger (I converted the pipe diameter outside the reflector with an adapter to use 8mm micro-bore pipe because it was really easy to bend and shape).
The reflector was motorised. It was meant to be a 2-axis gimballed type arrangement with photocell solar tracker, control electronics and a motor-pulley arrangement to drive the reflector, but this became complicated very quickly so ended up as a single axis for expediency.
I learned a great deal of practical work doing this, especially about electronics, building prototypes, experimentation, overcoming practical problems, power conversion, thermal energy losses etc. Mid summer with the sun out in a clear blue sky, it worked surprisingly well - and that was the realisation that solar water heaters in the UK are completely reliant on the British climate !
That it was seriously flawed was irrelevant. The thing is, by doing this, it gave me a real head start over other candidates who relied on their academic work alone. It meant that I had real project evidence to take to the interview (photographic and a work folder) and have a worthwhile discussion and the motivation was self explanatory. The interviewer even called in a couple of his colleagues to have a look at my folder.
Beware though, I went to university as a mature student with no A-levels but I did have an HNC in electronics and was up against some stiff competition.