The University of Southampton

Southampton physicists inspire next generation in Italian Academy of Distinction

Published: 20 April 2021
Southampton’s Dr Elena Accomando is supporting the programme’s School of Physics.

Inspirational lectures delivered by physicists from the University of Southampton are setting Italian school pupils on a pathway to pioneering scientific careers.

Leading experts at Southampton’s School of Physics and Astronomy are supporting the international Academy of Distinction (AoD) programme, which invites secondary schools’ top performing students to expand their knowledge in a range of disciplines.

Dr Elena Accomando of the Southampton High Energy Physics theory group has partnered with the University of Pavia to deliver the AoD School of Physics. The institute, which was launched in 2020, is expected to be accessed by hundreds of 16 and 17-year-olds in the coming years.

The AoD consists of monthly online lectures and coordinated group activities that boost learning and engagement between sessions. A week-long summer school hosted by the University of Southampton is being planned to complete the programme.

Dr Accomando says: “At the AoD School of Physics, brilliant and highly motivated students work together to boost their talents by addressing advanced topics that are not part of the standard school curriculum. Our philosophy is to reach a diverse cohort of outstanding minds from state and international schools and give them the opportunity to feed their curiosity, letting it grow in a stimulating environment.”

The AoD School of Physics was opened with a series of lectures on quantum mechanics by Southampton’s Professor Nick Evans. Dr Accomando’s continuing series is taking pupils on an interactive journey through the mysteries of the sub-nuclear world.

Around 50 secondary schools have enrolled in the scheme, providing the opportunity to nominate their best students for selection in the different AoD disciplines. In this first pilot year, the AoD School of Physics has a cohort of 12 Italian school pupils selected from the 87 nominations.

The number of connected secondary schools is projected to reach 5,000 in the coming years, directing hundreds of talented pupils into the AoD physics programme.

Dr Accomando says: “We want to open our doors for talented international students to pursue a challenging, formative path to meet their highest expectations and hopes.”

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