Reporter Competition

iPod shuffles All of the entries captured the excitement of the day and the students’ enthusiasm for science. The reports are fun to read. Here are this year's winners.

Don  Henderson, Chairman, Organising Group
June 2009


Schools Science Conference Report. Just hearing that the conference has run successfully for 5 years, and that the one that I would attend would be the 6th, was quite exciting. That alone was evidence enough for me that the students of London have found it both educational and fun. The conference was held in Kensington Town Hall and continued over the course of a day. Many schools from around London were invited and attended, with students eager to expand their knowledge. The conference had so many stalls which included Podiatry, Physiotherapy, Radiotherapy, Ambulance Service and Microbial & Antibiotics. Furthermore each stall had someone of that expertise that could answer any queries, or give you information to take away that you could read through at your own leisure. And if that was not enough, most if not all, were interactive stands that gave you an opportunity to actually simulate some real life scenarios, or just play some fun games. Many doctors and scientists also attended and I actually got the chance to talk to a few of them. I met Dr Tom Ford who is a clinical Immunologist and works in a NHS lab where he diagnoses different diseases. Working hard in higher education led to him studying A- Levels in Biology, General Studies, Chemistry and Maths in which he received BBCD. He then went onto receive a PhD in Molecular Evolution, although he settled on Immunology, as it allowed him to have a direct impact and apply his knowledge effectively. He got a 2.1 in upper 2nd class, which is impressive and he enjoys climbing for fun. Dr Ford intends to continue in his field and for the future aspires to make a difference in the world. I personally enjoyed the conference because it made me sure that I wanted to be a doctor. Prior to the conference I had actually been quite hesitant about choosing a profession in science, because of the size of the workload and the time it takes to actually qualify. Speaking to different doctors and scientists at the conference, I learnt that the rewards of any scientific vocation definitely outweigh the work. I have always wanted to help people, and after the conference feel that I am actually capable of achieving my goal. What I liked most about the conference is that I was able to get a lot of information about the different universities and sciences in one place, usually I would have to browse for a long time before I could find just one useful piece of information. For those who have already done so, choosing a career in science is quite brave and ambitious. As I have found that it requires a great amount of skill and dedication. So to be able to go to a place where you can get more information is very beneficial. Although this event would never have happened if it had not been for the creativity of Don Henderson. Don Henderson came up with the idea for a science conference when he was thinking of ways to get students interested in science. Don Henderson himself studied a degree in Zoology at St.Andrews Scotland. Although the conference was only one of Don's many passions, as he also enjoys skiing and sailing. In fact he had just arrived back from a skiing trip that ended only the night before the conference! He also enjoys sailing on the weekends, but what he enjoys most is that his job allows him to create great opportunities for students and that it varies greatly from day to day. His aspirations for the organization are that it continues on in its great success and to increase funding so that the event can continue to develop and evolve to be even bigger and better! Although the true reason that you should definitely want to go to this valuable opportunity, is that it allows you learn about the different degrees and courses you can take, and the variety that exists within science. But most importantly that the common courses of medicine and pharmacy are great choices, but that there are many more that are just as satisfying and rewarding. I mean where else can you practice sewing up an arm (fake of course) at a young age, without being arrested and possibly committed? Personally I believe that the event will strengthen your decision to pursue science in the future. Overall, I had a great day and would like to thank everyone involved in the event.

Saryah Al-Hejazi, EALING, The King Fahad Academy, Year 12

Schools' science conference 2009: A Reporter's eye view. This year's conference was primarily focused on and about biology. At arrival I felt very enthusiastic about the event as I felt it was a good means of broadening my limited horizons in science. As we entered the Great Hall we were put into three groups, green, red and blue and where given stickers with the name of our school and the colour of our group. As we all settled down we were informed about what we were going to do and what the convention was all about. One of the first, and personally most inspiring talks of the day at the science conference, was with Dr Kevin Fong 'the Rocket Man' who presented ''The battle for the Blue sky's'' which was one of his greatest passions. He managed to charm us all with his humorous speech while also fascinating us with a varied amount of facts. He stressed important issues such as, war, global warming, diseases and poverty. He also gave mention to lesser known people who have helped shaped the field of science and who deserve more recognition for their work i.e. Maurice H. Willing who was instrumental in the discovery of DNA. Later on after his speech had ended, I caught up with him to ask him what exactly inspired him to go into medicine; his reply was simply 'I didn't see it coming'. What also inspired me about him was the fact that his school was not so privileged and even though everyone doubted he would make it, including surprisingly his teachers, here he is today graduated from the prestige's UCL and having worked with NASA and plus a lecturer in Physiology in UCL. 'Nothing is impossible, as long as you set yourself a goal and work for it, you'll achieve your goal', I then asked him how he coped with all the workload, he said \"anyone can do well in exams, it's not impossible, just get a book read it then write what u remember then read it again to check', these are words embedded in my memory. We where then set to different workshops and my group, the green group, headed towards the ground floor. I tried my best to visit every single stand and I was pleasantly surprised by the many different branches science can lead you to. The first stall I visited was on how the Electromagnetic spectrums work and me and my friend experimented with compounds which was great fun. What was also exciting was the radiotherapy stand where there was a quiz and a prize 'iPod shuffle' to be won at the end of the conference. This boosted everyone's interest in the stand. We then headed to the small hall to hear three superb talks on facing science in health and life. First Dr Sandeep, a Consultant Dermatologist, spoke about the wonders of plastic surgery and the dangers that come with smoking and long exposure to the sun's rays. We were also reminded about the importance of sun protection and how after 6weeks of exposure, a sun lotion bottle must be disposed of as it degenerates and loses its affectivity. He then gave an interesting example of a child with 'elongation of the skull' mutation which was artistically worked on through surgery and amazingly fixed. Dr Sandeep said 'Science translates to improve people's lives' and that about sums it all up. Second Mr Niall Kirkpatrick, a Consultant Craniofacial Plastic Surgeon, showed us more detailed and severe images of people with many different forms of medical conditions. Lastly, Sarah Jones who was a maxillofacial prosthetics showed us her mastery in sculpturing artistic human body parts such as the eye, and pieces of the face and even body parts. She gave an example of work she had done on sculpting ears for a boy who had no ears through using special waxes and paints. Maths was surprisingly also involved in this process as symmetry is essential to the success of her work. After we had had our appetizing lunch, which was supplied for us, Professor Chris Mason presented the lecture 'The 21st Century, the Stem Cell Age'. He spoke about diabetes and how human donors or Xenograft (Implant pig) etc. could save a person's life. He also gave the example of Christopher Reeve, who played the role of superman in the early days of the TV franchise, who if he had suffered the accident nowadays could have used stem cells to fix and repair his backbone and therefore would have avoided the wheelchair and his crippled fate. Stem cells are still in the early stages of development but have created a massive paradigm shift in the world of science. After Professor Chris Mason's talk, we made our way to the last workshops downstairs at the lower foyer. This is where we learnt all about the cases which can be detected by screening i.e. Cholesterol, Breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, downs syndromes etc. After this we were all led back to the great hall for the part that many people had been looking forward to, the prizes. Many iPod shuffles and goodies were won and my teacher was surprisingly the lucky recipient of an iPod shuffle. 'Who would have thought science could be so exciting' said Soumia Mekki as we exited the Kensington Town Hall. This science conference to me was an opportunity to learn about the many aspects of science which many people are unfortunately not aware of. The interactive aspect to the conference is exactly what young students need to spark their interest in science, which is wrongly seen as an unimaginative field of study. The many workshops helped establish in my mind the many different sectors in science I can pursue; it's not all about lab work and the memorising of facts. It's about using that knowledge you acquire and applying it in the real world through your imagination and creativity. This is the reason why I am hoping to attend the next event at the science conference and why I would genuinely on behalf of my school, like to thank the science department for organising such a valuable and insightful event.

The organising group would like to express its gratitude to the following organisations, without whom this year's event could not take place
NHS London
Skills for Health
The Royal Microscopical Society
The Royal Society of Chemistry - Aimhigher Chemistry: The Next Generation