Reporter Competition

All of the entries captured the excitement of the day and the students’ enthusiasm for science. The reports are fun to read. It was difficult to choose a winner and all of the reporters are commended. The winner of this year’s competition and awarded the digital camera kindly donated by Olympus to present to their school is Mohannad AbdulGhani from King Fahed Academy.

Mohannad AbdulGhaniKing Fahed Academy10Winner
Serene El-KurdKing Fahed Academy10Highly commended
Floyd PowellCity of Westminster College12Highly commended
Mohammed BashiKing Fahed Academy10Highly commended
Pavandeep GudiwalaBrentford School for Girls11Highly commended

Mohannad Abdulghani, The King Fahad Academy, Year 10

Report of The 5th Annual Schools Science Conference National Science and Engineering Week: Science in Health and Life. Looks like this year’s science conference was a turning point in many students’ lives. 

This year’s conference was mainly about chemistry and medical sciences such as biochemistry, virology, immunology, pathology, and many other important sciences. It was clear that the organisers tried to keep it entertaining, enjoyable and educationally understandable which they have done quite successfully. The Day started with an introduction to the students by two members of the Caudwell Xtreme Everest Expedition 2007 team, narrating their surprising and interesting findings. In this session, the scientists talked about their long historical journey, and how they tried to look at how the human body responds to different levels of oxygen in the atmosphere and how their team undertook the largest biology study in human history. There were many organs and biological processes to look at. They took a detailed look at oxygen delivery and how our bodies adapt by acclimatisation. They also told the students about the genetic side of the expedition and their hopes of finding a cure for many related diseases, such as cystic fibrosis. 

One of the very helpful sessions was the workshop “A Day in The Life of…” Personally I attended the one that talked about virologists and found it very appealing. The Virologist, Dr Mark Atkins, told us about what he faces every day in his job, and the way he deals with different viruses like SARS. He also answered our questions about other viruses such as HIV and Influenza virus. This workshop was generally good but they should give the students a closer look by adding more practical to it. 

In the hall, students were introduced to many organizations, groups of activities and volunteers to show them what a particular science is all about. I talked with the physiotherapist who explained the importance of our back muscles and different ways to train, stretch and relax them. We talked to the bone marrow transplant and blood group donation group about how you might save peoples’ lives just by giving your time and that donating blood and bone marrow wouldn’t affect you. There were also the Discussion groups, run by several scientists. Although we did not have enough time, the groups’ discussions were entertaining and instructive. We discussed radioactivity in terms of advantages and disadvantages. This session could have been better if it was given more time and can be even more improved by giving the speakers microphones. 

The Delights of Chemistry by Dr Mike Hoyland session was by far the most amusing and compelling. It had many comical experiments with unusual astonishing results. This session and the way it was presented made many students think about having a career in chemistry. It was basically the perfect fun in the perfect time. “It was the Funniest, most exciting and informative day in my life,” that’s what Yazeed Alzahrani-16- from the King Fahad Academy said when he was asked by me about the event as a whole. “It was great. I liked it all, especially the delights of chemistr,” said Hussain Jasem-16. Mohammad Bashi who’s 16 as well said that he never expected it to be as funny as it was, and that he expected a long boring day of long lectures but fortunately it was magnificent, and when I asked him about his favourite, “It was all good but I enjoyed the delights of chemistry. Before I saw these wonderful reactions and their effects, I am definitely thinking about a career in chemistry”. I enjoyed the opportunity to climb onto the stage, grasp the microphone and ask a number of questions on the expedition. 

At the end there was the prize draw. It was very thrilling and exciting; many people won various prizes, from our school two people won. They were Sohaib Baraa and Yazeed Alzahrani who won a shirt each. After the prizes, the conference ended and the students started on his/her journey home, displaying a big smile on their faces. There was a tremendous air of satisfaction from the amount of fun, entertainment and most importantly the valuable information that might not be found in books and even if found it wouldn’t stick to your memory as much as when you actually see it in action. At the end we have to thank the organisers from the Science Department, for the great time we had. Mohannad Abdulghani 10B1 The King Fahad Academy, London.

Ms Serene El-Kurd, The King Fahad Academy, Year 10

When I was offered the chance to attend the science, health and development conference, I was astonished by the vibrant atmosphere and the sheer hospitality I received from the moment we arrived. The phenomenal speakers were just as delightful as the brain food we were served at lunch. The speakers Mr Hugh Montgomery and Mr Paul Gunning built up the excitement of science from their very first spoken words. The inspiration running throughout every word, their dedication and commitment inspired me more and more by the minute. Next, the spectacular live displays were full of knowledge; both the information and speakers were fully professional. The live quizzes and the film expeditions’ were delightful and displayed information in a creative and diverse way. When it was time for the roundtable discussions I already rated the amazement factor at a high rank, but as we sat down the fully informed speakers explained as full as their pieces of carefully written work. The donor discussion speaker was an aspiring woman who has inspired me to further my ambition of becoming a scientist one day. After that we were then kindly whisked away to the Cancer Research U.K discussion where the two women speakers were both colourful in the terms of energy and diverse in the use of their language. They involved everyone by generating discussions for new advertisements and helped put across the message of preventing smoking from happening. The powerful words spoken by her were encouraging as they helped to put me off smoking in the future as well. We were generously offered leaflets and information packs that helped not only me but also my fellow peers gain more knowledge about out future fields. The stationary and sweets that were given out during the conference were special as they help us all to remember this spectacular event and the happenings that took place. When we thought everything was over we were hit by one of the most interesting professors in science. His displays of colourful and loud experiments were very intriguing. His bold character added to the amazement factor of the event. He constantly left the person feeling curious on what was going to happen next, in fact he made me gasp every second or so. His powerful words left a print in my brain “Science is a powerful tool that is it!” On the overall the amazement factor, the clear hospitality and the educational experience gained from attending the society, health and development conference were phenomenal and will benefit any aspiring scientist. The experience has not only left a mark on my brain but also left various type of knowledge I will take with me in my future field of science. By Serene El-Kurd King Fahad Academy, London.

Floyd Powell, City of Westminster College, Year 12

The day started out with refreshments while the schools and colleges arrived and came together. After the refreshments, the previously assigned groups, went to the main hall where we were all introduced to what the conference was all about and what the different professions do. Before I go on, I should say that the conference was brought to us by the National Health Service (NHS). The conference was held for individuals who are interested in science and who may have decided to work in the NHS. 

Dr. Hugh Montgomerie and Dr. Paul Gunning gave the first talks. Dr. Montgomerie focused on the topic: “Coping Without Oxygen”. He spoke about life a million of years ago and how life’s first oxygen molecules were formed. Just to give a brief summary of what he said: He told us that the earth had no free oxygen back those millions of years ago. Back then, the only forms of life or organisms that existed were bacteria. In his presentation, he stated that bacteria went through stages of evolution. While the bacteria went through these evolutionary stages, our first sets of oxygen were produced. Therefore, other organisms could form and survive. Most individuals didn’t find this interesting, especially those who are religious. Nevertheless, we all listened. On the other hand, he concluded by telling us how the body depends on oxygen. At this point Dr. Paul Gunning took over and went into more detail of how we all need oxygen. Dr. Paul spoke about how the human body copes with or without oxygen especially at different altitudes. He emphasized the experiments they did (he and his teem) in order to know how the body copes with oxygen at different altitudes and the perfect place to carry out this investigation was on Mt. Everest. He spoke about what the different tests involves and what the outcome was. The whole project would have cost £4 million but with the sponsors they got it only cost them £1 million plus the help of many volunteers. The aim of this trip to Mt. Everest is to help individuals in Intensive Care Units (ICU). Therefore, developing new techniques is the key. 

After the presentation, the groups were split up once more. I was in the ‘red group’, hence, the first place we went to were the talks then the various workshops. There were about four different talks but I only attended two: 

  • Biochemistry 
  • Facial Surgery Research Foundation 

The first talk, ‘biochemistry’, was presented by two lovely ladies: Dr. Liz Okokon and her co-worker Dr Mandy. They spoke about professions in biochemistry laboratories. They also informed us that they could have up to 2000 blood samples per day, 15 litres of urine and other things. Hence, there is over 4000 results per day or 1.6 million per year. 

The Facial Surgery Research Foundation was the most exciting of the two. Dr. Ian Hutchison presented it. He specialises in oral and facial surgery. He showed us slides of the different deformities that can happen to you. Some of these I have never even seen or heard of. Most of these deformities are caused by mutation, binge drinking and other factors. He emphasised how he persuades other surgeons to do research so that they will be able to compare treatments, to benefit patients. 

After all this they sent us to lunch. Unfortunately, I was unable to sit for lunch because I was running up and down the stairs looking for my target to interview. I did three interviews of various professions The first person I interviewed was Dr. Liz Okokon, the biochemist I spoke of earlier. I asked her about her job and what excites her most. She replied, “meeting the patient makes me excited and also the people I work with.” The told me she did her year eleven work experience in a local hospital and there she found out that she had the passion for science. She told me that one of the most exiting things about her job, is that she learns something new every day and looking at the latest tests for various things relating to biochemistry. Currently, she told me, they are looking at children and hormonal growth, and how fat affects hormones. For example, She explained, when fats deposited into the liver and is oxidized, it helps to destroy the tissues. I asked Dr. Okokon what she does to relax. “Soca”, she explained. She told me that she loves going to the carnival because she enjoys soca music. We concluded the interview with chatter and laughter. I should warn you, if you don’t like laughing, Liz Okokon is not the lady to interview, she is just constantly laughing and giving jokes. 

After lunch there was a demonstration by two chemists. Mike Hoyland and his companion. This was my favourite part of the program and I’m sure that the other pupils could verify this. The presentation started off with the most obvious “ATOMS”. They focused on which two atoms come together to form water. They also illustrated the state of matter and how it contributes to the movement of atoms. Also, they focused on a few compounds: water, oxygen and nitrogen (H2O, O2, N2). We also looked a little at hydrogen, (H2). We looked at what degrees Celsius each of these elements melts and freezes at. They showed us demos on how you can turn colourless liquids to coloured liquids when you mixed them together. This, they called “Golden Rain”. They did a lot of different exciting experiments that enlightened me and the rest of the audience. If you need to see the pictures of this you can go to the website: This sums up a day at the School Science Conference 2008.

Mohammed Bashi, The King Fahad Academy, Year 10

The day started at 9:00 am in Kensington town hall, where registration went on for about thirty minutes before the irresistible presentation. The initial presentation presented by two members of the Caudwell Xtreme Everest Expedition 2007. Their presentation was about how a person can breathe in areas with thin air like on the top of Mt.Everest, and they really convinced the audience about their theory; they gave so much knowledge that was absorbed by the audience. Round table Discussions kicked in and students seemed to be very concentrated due to their hunger for more knowledge. There were 8 topics: 

  • Who deserves a transplant by Sue Alexander, head of pathology at The Royal Marsden Hospital NHS foundation 
  • Communication and Cancer awareness by Louisa Mullan, Science Press Manager at Cancer Research UK 
  • Stem cell transplant donors –Matching, Selection, Informing and concerns by Penny Owens, Pediatric BMT Co-coordinator 
  • What are employers looking for, How to show to showcase yourself by Kay Roberts, Education Progammes at GlaxoSmithKline 
  • The Society Health and Development Diploma by Sharon Ensor, Progamme Manager (14-19), skills for health 
  • Live to eat: Eat to live –Is there a difference by Professor Gary Frost, Chair in Nutrition and Dietetics at Imperial College 
  • No Gain without Pain: Scientific Discovery for good or evil by Danya -Cohen, Head of laboratory Operations at Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust 
  • Café Scientifique-informal forum for debating science.

Then there was a workshop where the students could walk around and explore the display and question professionals about there work. There were different topics including: paramedics, biochemistry and physiotherapy. Straight after the workshops we had a lecture by Mark Atkins who is a Virologist, thanks Mark now I know a lot more about viruses. It was time for lunch so everyone made their way for lunchroom where the food was provided. 

Last but not least there was Professor Mike Hoyland who put a brilliant show for the audience about the delights of chemistry. He entertained the audience so much that no one wanted to leave “No wonder they left him till last”. The day was wrapped up with the prize giving for those who participated in the quiz draw. The Science in Health and Life conference was a very educational and beneficial trip. I would recommend this trip to any student and any school. It will certainly change your mind about science. Now I am aware of many different careers in science that I was not aware of, thanks to the conference, and thanks to the Science Department for organizing this trip.

Pavandeep Gudwala, Brentford School For Girls, Year 11

I am not brilliant about writing reports but here is what I experienced at the science conference as our teacher told us about this conference we made assumptions that it will be unexciting people talking for hours as I have never been to a conference before. We came to school early so we could get there on time. We had to take two trains. It was a long way and we arrived on time. I was surprised at the size of the building, and the amount of people. I have never been to something like this so I didn’t know what to expect. As we got in, I was surprised to see cameras which I didn’t want to be seen on as I am a camera shy person. We followed our teacher and went into the big hall where we sat in the middle. We were given bags and in them we were given note pad so we were expected to write down things but I didn’t know so I couldn’t write down notes but the information in the presentation that was shown is still in my head. We were given group colours. Our group was green which I didn’t mind. I saw that the presentations were prepared by professional people and I was amazed at some of the information that was given. As the presentations were long, people were fidgety but everyone was curious about the Mount Everest expedition. It was interesting at how much it cost, how much effort people put in, and the tests and experiments performed. I won’t go into detail but they were intimidating. After that we went to do different things. First we went to a diet section where we found out about diets and why most people are getting fat. The next section was about all different things such as small pox and matches. I was surprised because match tips used to have phosphorus in them and it could give you cancer, so I only use lighters even though I know matches aren’t like that anymore. We found out about gunpowder which was also interesting then later on we were taken into the grand hall again to be shown experiments which I found shocking as they were really LOUD and astonishing. The scientist as I don’t mean to be stereotype but looked like the person who would talk about things that I would not understand but I actual got a lot of info and understood it also especially as the man showed the experiments. As we went to look around at different sections of science careers there were a lot of quizzes and I mean lots but there were also a lot of goodies also we were given loads of info about all science involving careers and where we should go to achieve that type of career. There was also info about how many sugar cubes are in each drink and I was really surprised that 1 normal soft drink can contain 19 SUGAR CUBES. Another shocking information I found was that a person who has HIV has to take around 100-150 pills just for 31 days. I learnt about units of alcohol, radiology and surgery. In units of alcohol I did not know anything as I have never tasted it but I was surprised at what it can do. Radiology is very fascinating and also dangerous and only professional radiologists are allowed to do it. We learnt about medical school what qualifications you need to get into it? What you should do? I learnt about stitching an arm I wasn’t interested in surgery until I learnt about stitching its certainly not easy but it is an astounding medical career. We were also taught about a day in a surgery by a doctor who is the head of plastic surgeons who rebuild faces. He told us all about what sort of cases he has dealt with. He said that the longest operation he has ever done is 23 hours which is very long and without a break is amazing. Another workshop we went to was about radiology the lady told us about radioisotopes half life, radioisotopes basically everything about the radiology. Later on we went back to the hall and handed in our evaluation forms. I knew there isn’t much chance of winning a prise but I still gave it in. There were also prizes which were given out by a special famous person. I was happy at how the whole day went, how much we learnt, and how much better I felt about what to be? I would really want it to happen again it was fun and educational. I would recommend it to people. All our class enjoyed it and they were happy as well so was I. A lot of people were helpful and answered your questions. There isn’t a single complaint about the whole day. My best bit was when we did the experiments. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE was listening and watching waiting to see what would happen? There aren’t any bits where I didn’t enjoy it. It was total entertainment and educational.

Science in Health and Life

The 5th Annual Schools Science Conference took place on 12th March 2008

Kensington Town Hall

Hornton Street
W8 7NX

Healthcare Science Ambassadors of the Year!

The NHS Chief Scientific Officer’s prestigious Healthcare Science Ambassadors Award has been awarded to the Annual Schools Science Conference.