16 March 2023
Woldingham’s scientists packed even more than usual into their busy schedule as they celebrated British Science Week 2023 with a wide range of activities on this year’s theme of ‘connections’. Events included a science conference, testing their knowledge at the inaugural inter-House STEM quiz and crafting cosmetic products for a good cause.
Tonbridge School Science Conference - Fleur D-C, Lower Sixth
On Friday 10 March, 13 Lower Sixth STEM Society students attended the Tonbridge School Science Conference, a superb event, celebrating independent research projects conducted by secondary school students.
The day began with a talk by Professor Lev Sarkisov from the University of Manchester on 'The future of chemical engineering with AI'. It was a fascinating lecture explaining how chemical engineering permeates everything around us and that it will soon become a pre-requisite for all future scientists to have coding skills. Professor Sarkisov also talked about his Ensamble Project, which teaches students critical skills about science. Click here to find out more about this project.
We then looked displays from students from dozens of schools covering a variety of different subjects they had researched outside of the classroom. Some students also gave short talks about their research, including Woldingham’s representative, Zana (main photo). Zana talked about glycogen regulation in the liver and her display was a poster she created on the topic. Subjects ranged from the chemistry of honey, to whether carrots can be used as a catalyst and how to use AI to discern different handwriting.
Student presentations were followed with a talk by representatives from the Young Scientists Journal, which is aimed at teenagers with a passion for STEM (click here for more information) and one about 'Engineering the future of flight' by Sophie Harker from BAE Systems, who spoke at Woldingham last term.
The conference was a great opportunity to open our minds to different levels of complexity in science and to meet students from other schools to discuss shared interests.
British Science Week activities at school (see photos below)
The Science Department rose to the challenge of our unpredictable British weather, rearranging several planned activities at short notice, leaving participants’ spirits undampened.
Our ‘connecting with space’ outdoor astronomy physics masterclass moved into the laboratory, where 16 students in Years 9 to Upper Sixth enjoyed a presentation by Graham Cluer from Croydon Astronomical Society on detecting meteor showers using a radio telescope in his garden. The photo in the gallery below shows pixel colours representing the number of meteors detected over each day (time of day on the vertical axis) over the period of a month (horizontal axis).
Instead of a nature walk, biologists connected with ecosystems in the lab, exploring some of the strangest connections in the natural world. Did you know some plants can sense when they are being eaten by caterpillars and send messages to attract parasitic wasps that will lay eggs in the caterpillar? Once they hatch, they eat the caterpillar from the inside out, leaving the vital organs untouched and modifying the caterpillar’s behaviour so it will then guard them in their cocoon. This was just one of the amazing connections students analysed.
Woldingham chemists were able to stick to their original plan for connecting with chemicals. This was a very cool experiment using coins to make batteries. One group produced more than 10V and, impressively, was able to light an LED bulb.
Inter-House STEM Quiz – Linda L, Lower Sixth
On Tuesday 7 March, I had the pleasure of attending Woldingham’s inaugural House STEM competition as an audience member. It was an exciting event showcasing the knowledge of students in Years 7 to 9. I was blown away by the level of creativity and problem-solving skills on display. It was great to see how well participants collaborated and communicated, even in the midst of tough challenges.
The enthusiasm of competition hosts Hannah and Sophie, Lower Sixth STEM Society members, helped create a fun and welcoming atmosphere for everyone. Congratulations to Barat House for the win.
STEM Society crafts cosmetics
Members of the STEM Society have been busy bees during British Science Week, handcrafting a variety of wonderfully scented cosmetic products for our first ever Great Woldingham Cosmetics Sale, to be held in school at lunchtime on Tuesday 21 March. All proceeds will be donated to a local primary school to support its STEM provision.