Blues News Issue 46 March 2018

She also explained what further work could be undertaken to extend her research and its potential use to combat the crisis in antibiotic-resistant disease. Rebecca was presented with some very challenging questions from the panel, which she handled with aplomb. “It was a real privilege to share my findings with such eminent researchers at Cambridge”, Rebecca says. “The event was incredibly exciting and I really enjoyed it”. The afternoon ended with a meal in the senior common room of the college, followed by a talk fromMatthew Hickman of the Wellcome Trust, before the announcement of the panel’s decision. The panel congratulated the finalists on an excellent set of presentations, stating that their decision had been an incredibly difficult one. Rebecca was singled out for her excellent work and was awarded the Runner-up prize, missing out on the trip to the US “by a hair’s breadth”, according to the Chair of the panel. Head of Biology, Mr Colville, who, with our EPQ Coordinator, Mr Baker, attended the event with Loic and Rebecca, commented: “Overall an excellent experience for these outstanding Blue Coat pupils, and a fascinating insight into some of the fantastic research going on at Cambridge in the field of vision. Rebecca and Loic were s uperb ambassadors for the school – and it was a great day out”. HEROINES OF SCIENCE COMPETITION On 7 March, six Year 12 students attended an event at the University of Reading, celebrating the lives and achievements of women in science. Eight schools competed by presenting on their heroines of science, including physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, Hollywood actress turned inventor Hedy Lamarr, and space scientist Maggie Aderin- Pocock. Ben Freeman and Jess Rofe represented Blue Coat and spoke about Jennifer Doudna, one of the pioneers of CRISPR genome editing. They also included a fascinating discussion on the ethics of using science to alter an organism’s genetic material. Ben and Jess received lots of positive feedback on their presentation and Ben’s hand-drawn animation included in the talk wowed the other schools. However, it wasn’t quite enough to win and Blue Coat were runners-up to Notre Dame School who performed a “This is Your Life”-style show on the Nobel Prize-winning crystallographer, Dorothy Hodgkin. It was incredibly interesting to hear about so many women overcoming barriers, to excel in their scientific field, and how these women have inspired a new generation of scientists to follow their own ambitions in STEM careers. - Dr Langdon, Chemistry Teacher CELEBRATING SCIENCE Blue Coat's Sixth Form scientists shine in competition NATIONAL EPQ RESEARCH COMPETITION Y ear 12 student Rebecca Clayton and Year 13 Loic Pohl were two of only 10 students nationwide to be shortlisted by the Peter Watson International Scholarship to present their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) research to a distinguished panel at Queens’ College Cambridge in February. This is a national award open to all students undertaking a science-related EPQ, and the prize for the winners is an opportunity to visit the National Institutes of Health and the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC. The 10 shortlisted finalists were from all over the country and we were the only school to have two finalists invited to present their research at the event. The presentations were diverse and were given to a panel of professors, consultants and members of the Wellcome Trust. Loic presented his work on the feasibility of generating electricity from rainwater collected on residential roofs. While this is possible, Loic proved that, despite how it might feel at times, there is not enough rain to generate significant levels of electricity in this country. However, he did suggest possible applications for this technology in remote and low-light level environments. “Going to Cambridge was a surreal experience, and gave me an insight into what an amazing place it is”, Loic says. “Taking up the opportunity allowed me to share ideas with other students who are studying a wide variety of topics, and present my ideas to fascinating professors and scholars. This opportunity is certainly not one that should be missed!” Rebecca presented her findings on the antibiotic effects of aspirin, detailing her methodical planning, and demonstrating that she had proved that aspirin was an effective antibiotic in a lab setting. ACADEMIC

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