Report on the A-CINCH Summer School in Leeds

The first A-CINCH nuclear and radiochemistry residential summer school was held this summer at the University of Leeds (11th - 14th of July, 2022).

The four day school was designed to give 16-18 year olds a taste of careers in the field through a series of practical & virtual reality activities, career presentations and discussions with top industry representatives and experts. Through practical sessions the participants had the chance to explore column separation of lanthanides and understand geochronology techniques using radioisotopes. Students were given the chance to don protective equipment used in the preparation of radiopharmaceutical doses, and to practice preparing such doses themselves. Using a virtual reality system, they also had a go at detecting radioactive items within a virtual town, to better understand the nature of radioactivity and how to safely handle such materials.

These activities were facilitated by A-CINCH collaborators from National Nuclear Labs (NNL), the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS), as well as Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Sellafield Ltd., the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) & the Universities of Bristol and Nottingham. Students rated their experiences very highly in feedback. The diversity of experience on offer from all our collaborators undoubtedly contributed to the popularity and success of the practical activities and career sessions, with some students remarking they’d previously had no knowledge of some aspects of the radiochemistry work presented at the school.

A full day site visit to Westinghouse fuels and the NNL pilot scale facility at Preston, UK was another highlight of the week for the students and school staff alike, affording a rare insight into nuclear fuel production and uranium recovery methods from legacy waste.

On the final day, our students presented to industry experts on nuclear related topics such as space batteries, fission vs fusion and dealing with nuclear waste. Questioning was at times tough to stretch our student’s knowledge but they answered well and really showcased what they knew. Prizes were awarded to the winning team (pictured).

The next A-CINCH Summer School is planned to take place in March 2023 in Cyprus. The call for applications will be launched by Christmas on this website.