As the wind blew quite frantically, we began to assemble outside Birmingham’s Symphony Hall awaiting the gripping talks from the scientists that were to come.
The presentations began with a riveting discussion from Professor Mark Miodownik (by far my favourite lecture), an engineer and material scientist. He discussed the damage plastic is doing to our environment (a significant global issue in our current daily lives) and the shocking reality of “greenwashed” products that claim to be sustainable but, in fact, amplify the pollution in the world. Considering it is a current problem we face, it was really interesting to learn about biodegradable polymers and biodegradable plastics and how, in fact, different types of plastics cannot be mixed as this reduces the amount of plastic that is able to be recycled. One thing that struck me was his concluding statement “there is no sustainable material but there are many sustainable systems”. I’m 100% sure that many students, like myself, found that particular discussion engaging and, in a way, challenged us youth to come up with solutions to these problems!
After a short break, we were spoken to by Chief Examiner Stewart Chenery who stressed the importance of reading questions and understanding question types in exams; he gave quite valuable tips that allow students to achieve the best they possibly can.
Another one of my favourite lectures was from Professor Lord Robert Winston who expressed his enthusiasm for aspects of the development of human life; being a pioneer of IVF treatment and a renowned communicator of science, Lord Winston engaged the entirety of Symphony Hall with his witty remarks and mind-opening observations about the development and divisions of minuscule cells into organisms just like us.
After a well-deserved lunch break and another intriguing talk from the Chief Examiner, the day concluded with a quite question-provoking discussion from Professor Steve Jones. Beginning with the statement “Look to the person to your left, and the person to your right – two out of three of you will die for reasons associated with the genes you carry”, Professor Jones then explored the consequences of our gene make-up and how they shape us, and the possible fate we have that results from what resides in our DNA.
Overall our day at GCSE Science Live was one of attentiveness. It was a great experience and I’m sure that Mr Jones would agree – he even had the privilege of obtaining a free coffee during break time!
Dharam Rana 10G