GCSE Science Live! Conference 2016

Senior School

On 26 February 2016, fifteen Year 10 girls attended the GCSE Science Live! Conference at the London Victoria Apollo Theatre. We listened to lectures from Britain’s leading scientists from various universities working in different areas of science. We learnt about the ground breaking work being done by scientists to solve problems in the world, explore and further knowledge in numerous areas.

One of the key speakers was Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE, a Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey, a broadcaster, and a Chair in the Public Engagement of Science. He talked about time travel and whether it would ever be possible. We learnt that it was possible for time to slow down if we were moving at the speed of light and that the laws of Physics did allow for time travel and many experiments have even proven that time travel is possible.

Dr Lucie Green, a solar researcher at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory, who studies activity in the atmosphere of the sun, talked inspiringly about the future of the Solar System and how far we can actually explore it. She spoke about past space missions she was involved in; for example, the New Horizons project that reached Pluto in 2015 and NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft which exited the solar system as it headed in to interstellar space.

After a short break, we listened to Professor Lord Robert Winston who is the Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College. He was a pioneer of the IVF treatment and spoke to us about the process of fertilisation and conception of a baby by cell division. He also showed us how transgenic technology was used to alter the genetic material by the transfer of genes from one species to another. Robert Winston also worked on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, which was used for screening out embryos which would develop genetic diseases. He talked about how gene modification is being used on embryos otherwise pre-disposed to extremely degenerative conditions. We found this extremely fascinating.

We then had a lecture from Professor Richard Fortey, a palaeontologist with the Natural History Museum and a broadcaster who studies the evolution of the arthropods called trilobites from their fossil records. Trilobites were found in ancient oceans for over 270 million years until they suffered mass extinction. Professor Fortey explained that trilobite fossils helped reconstruct the shape of the ancient world, which we found very interesting.

The fifth lecture was by Professor Andrea Sella, a broadcaster and Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at UCL. He explained that in a reaction the activities that happen in the middle are the most important, not the reactants or the end products. He showed us an oscillating reaction where both positive and negative feedback is shown and if the oscillation was not stirred, we could see the waves of colour changing through the solution.

Our last talk was by an examiner who gave us useful tips on revision and how best to answer examination questions 

Overall, the day was very interesting and it just showed how many aspects there are to science. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and learnt a lot and would definitely love to attend the conference again.

We would like to thank Mr Mburu, Mrs Walley and the Science Department for organising this spectacular outing.

By Shruti Gorsia and Lara Braganza

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