Last week, excited year 9, 10 and 11 students set off to London to see five prestigious scientists talk about their area of science and a chief examiner talk about good exam techniques.
The first speaker, Dr Kate Lancaster, talked about nuclear fusion as a potential energy source for the future. The students were able to hear about the work she did at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the JET project at AWE, which are both local to Theale. She also encouraged them to have other passions beyond science, detailing her dancing career.
The second speaker, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, enthralled all with his talk on time travel. The students were excited to hear that time travel is potentially possible and is only limited by our current technology. Interesting fact, Professor Jim Al-Khalili taught Miss Jomaa at Bristol University when she was studying her degree in astrophysics.
After a short break, we got some excellent advice from Stewart Chenery, a chief examiner, who gave some fantastic hints and tips on revision and exam preparation.
The third talk was presented by Professor Lord Robert Winston, who discussed his work on fertility and the potential of embryonic research. What was most humbling about the experience was hearing him answer the question from the audience, “what is the hardest thing about being a professor?”. To which he replied, admitting you know less than the student’s you mentor as you support them in surpassing you to drive forward in the field.
After lunch, we heard from Stewart Chenery again, talking about the importance of mathematics in science and how to approach 6-mark questions. Again, some brilliant hints and tips which were very much appreciated.
The fourth speaker was Dr Helen Czerski, who, according to the students, sounds just like Miss Porter. She spoke about how scientists get their hands dirty working in the field and in her case, this is looking at wave breaches and bubbles in the middle of stormy seas (waves heights of ten meters and more). She broke the stereotype of physicists being men who pontificate in lecture theatres.
The final talk of the day was presented by Professor Andrea Sella, who talked about the wonders of ice. He used practical demonstrations to bring to life his talk and shared his passion for climate change. He impressed upon the students the importance of looking at evidence before believing what you are told. Ice is special, as it is the only molecular material where the solid floats on the liquid.
On the coach home it was fantastic to hear the students all talking about which scientist was their favourite and what they took from the day. Hopefully, we have inspired the next generation of scientists and maybe in the future we will take students to hear them talk.
Year 9 student, Alex, commented on his experience:
“I really enjoyed the GCSE Science Live! event due to the range of talks given to us by a variety of scientists. The event also included a class on GCSE science exam technique. My favourite talk was the lecture given to us by Professor Jim Al Khalili about time travel, wormholes and the mysteries of black holes. Many thanks to the teaches who organised the trip and I would love to attend next year’s event.”