Reporter Competition

Four fantastic reports. Each captures the excitement of the day and that every aspect of the conference was enjoyed by the students. 

We will announce the winner shortly 

Kimberly Gilmour, Chairman, Organising Group
April 2013

Sophie Sritharan, Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls 

Reporter Competition

The anticipation and excitement of going to somewhere called The Royal College of Pathologists was an amazing feeling.The title The Royal College makes it sound grand, prestigious and important. As a pupil from the Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls I would have never thought about attending a conference on Science for Living. It was an excellent opportunity for me to attend an institution like this and understand what goes on there. The moment we arrived there, I felt grown up, as if I was going to university. When I went inside I saw the staff very happy, well prepared and I looked forward to the day. We then, had a very special welcome and introduction speech made by Professor Lord Winston. This speech was very inspirational and a positive start of the day. He shared his enthusiasm for science, he spoke about his experiences and the positives and negatives events through his career. He told us how he runs the institute of reproductive and developmental Biology. He spoke about the improvements in transgenic technology in animal models, with a long term aim improving human transplantation. This man is an excellent role model of the day as I, myself, was lost in his words. However I was a little nervous going inside the lecture rooms to present our presentation on Prosthetic limbs, but this feeling subsided as everyone looked forward to presenting the presentation and this encouraged me to feel confident.

The second we got called to present our presentation first with 3 other school watching us became anxious and so many questions piped up in mind,whether we are going to win? Is it going well? What if I stop and my mind goes blank? But as soon as we started, all the negative feelings I had went down that I was part of a privileged groups of students in this college, and I became very enthusiastic also brave. I was confident of winning. 

After the presentation was the Science for Living talk in the Virchow room where we got to learn the grown up and professional things such as the advantages and disadvantages of sequencing the human genome and how this information can be used to develop personalized drugs. It was very exciting, as it engaged the students to think if we can develop Alzheimer’s in 50 years? Or even cancer in 10? What about you knowing that your at risk of cancer enables you to change your lifestyle and prevent it? Even what type of drug would kill a specific type of cancer? I was enjoyed Kimberly Gilmour presenting this to us in the most simple and interesting way. 

Few minutes later came the most important organ for living, The Kidney. My knowledge about the kidney was limited until I went and explored the organ, how it’s responsible for so many of our bodily functions and what happens when something goes wrong. There was different variety of practical activities as well as the opportunity to view a range of pathology pots storing some very unusual specimens. I was proud of myself to have touched these different type of specimens.

45 minutes later after exploring on kidneys we moved on to plan the future at Science in Practice.

Science in Practice was an inspiring session by different scientists, this is where I had the chance to try out some scientific equipment such as the clothes you wear to do transplant, and undertake scientific assessments. This also cleared my doubts of how science is applied to healthcare and how they worked to reach the point where they meet success. I also had the opportunity to ask them about the careers within the professions, routes for entry, NHS careers. The scientist explained very well and this made me feel very satisfied for every question, they also provided us with the NHS guides to help us focus on what we want to do, and encouraged especially to make a step forward to reach success in life. 

At 2.45pm was the most unbelievable moment where it was the round-up and prize-giving where we all looked forward to know the results. We waited and waited with patience for our school name to be announced but unfortunately we did not win this time. This did bring a little disappointment to ourselves as our presentation needed more work but taking part in a fantastic institution was an honor and inspirational. At the end of the day we went home being called junior scientists as the staff made us think this with such wonderful information and made my day.

Amina Felkaoui, The King Fahad Academy, Year 10 

Science is for living…

The Annual Schools Science Conference at The Royal College of Pathologists made me feel that I can achieve what I want if I try …

I want to become a surgeon and I decided that my dream was permanent after the visit to The Royal College of Pathologists on the 19th of March, and that I will do anything to get to the point that I am reaching for.

I don’t want to become a surgeon because someone told me to or because it’s a really good job or for the money, I want to become a surgeon because I want to and I love the fact that I will be treating people into a better life and I love seeing smiles on peoples face and I want to inspire people, just like I was inspired at The Royal College of Pathologists.

I was honoured and excited to go on this ever so wonderful trip and I couldn’t wait to meet the scientists and healthcare professionals that were waiting to teach my peers and I about their careers. 

My name is Amina Felkaoui and I am from the King Fahad Academy and we were in the orange group, we went into the college to find Professor Lord Winston giving his speech which was fantastic, it showed how much he loves his job by the words that he spoke and his face didn’t say the opposite. 

I have heard about many people who worked really hard and reached their dream but they didn’t enjoy what they do and they had wished they were doing something else and I was scared to become that kind of person but clearly Professor Lord Winston is proud of his job and he wouldn’t change it for the world.

After the inspirational speech we went to a workshop about the kidney which was extremely organised, we were able to explore The Kidney via different ways. During this workshop I’ve learnt about how diabetes can affect our kidneys, how we could identify the amount of glucose in our blood and in the urine, the cautions that should be taken and everything about kidney transplants and we’ve also seen how kidneys look like when affected by different illnesses. I have enjoyed learning about the kidney and I felt so happy that I knew so much about an organ it almost felt like I was a doctor and anybody could come and ask me about their kidneys.

Later, we witnessed an interactive session were we met scientists who loved talking to us about their careers. I enjoyed talking to the Cytogenetic, it was interesting, and we saw how different illnesses that could be passed on through genes and he showed us how he pairs up the chromosomes and how missing and damaged chromosomes could cause different illnesses.

Then I got to the part where I decided, I decided to specialize in heart surgery after I met a doctor who explained everything about the heart to me and also let me do an ultrasound on a real person! This just made me feel like I was on top of the world. It was like I was living a dream. It was amazing!!!

Then our nerves started kicking in after lunch and all our thoughts were on our presentations which we thought went very well. I felt that watching the different schools’ presentations was very productive and I’ve learnt a lot.

After that we went to another work shop that talked about the advantages and disadvantages of sequencing the human genome and if you would want to know about if you are going to develop any kind of illnesses in the future. This was fun because were split into groups and we had a chance to debate about our different opinions. 

The facts I consumed throughout the day and the different experiences that I have gained with the scientists and healthcare professionals have imprinted on me and will stay with me for the living … Science for Living. 

Khadija Argoub, The King Fahad Academy, Year 11

A Year of Experience in a Day

Being chosen once more to pay an amazing visit to The Royal College of Pathologists in order to take part in the Science for Gold schools science conference was extremely gratifying. Last year, I had an inspiring and fantastic time, and this year, the experience was to prove even more so.

My friends and I chatted excitedly during the course of our journey. We travelled with the public transport, which I must say was tiring and the trains were packed as we journeyed during the rush hour. We all know where that would lead us: being late AGAIN. Yes, we were late last year as well sadly … 

At the entrance, we were handed little bags with information on the College as well as water bottles, which was very practical since I was very thirsty due to the long journey and had forgotten my water bottle! Late as we were, we could not go to our designated room, which was the orange room. As a result, we ended up in the purple room and we missed most of the introduction which was being shown live on a screen. 

The introduction to The Kidney was presented to us by an extremely passionate and enthusiastic pathologist by the name of Alex Freeman. His dedication and enthusiasm, which shone clearly through the manner in which he was addressing us and presenting information on the kidney, captured my attention. Personally, I am a keen learner and I love to be presented with new information. My thirst for the new was quenched as the presentation revealed facts I did not know about the kidneys, such as the fact that they regulate blood pressure, and the different things that could go wrong. The samples of severely damaged kidneys that had been extracted from patients both disgusted and fascinated me. I asked Mr Freeman what had inspired him to pursue pathology and he answered: “I’ve always had an interest in science. It is different every day and you get to meet and work with new people.”

Time was of the essence, and so moved on in order to take part in workshops. The first workshop I went to was about diabetes. I was handed a sample of urine in a small bottle (no worries, it wasn’t real) and was required to dip a small colour coded piece of paper in it for a few seconds. The colour pad at the end of the strip revealed whether there was the presence of glucose in the ‘urine’ and if so, how concentrated it was (now I know what those coloured pieces of paper mean!). Prior to attending the workshop, I had absolutely no clue how doctors perform a diabetes test, despite the fact that I had a friend who was diabetic. 

The next exhibition was amazing. Time was an extremely limiting factor and as a result, I was unable to view all the workshops. The one that had the strongest impact on me was informing people about cervical cancer. As a female, cervical cancer is one of the most dangerous and deadliest cancers, as one is unable to detect whether they are developing it. There are no symptoms or signs warning an individual of the presence of this deadly disease, making it a silent predator. Speaking to Dr R Awra, a consultant and pathologist, she stated that being “able to give a diagnosis to be able to cure” as well as “building awareness of cervical cancer” is what drove her into becoming what she is today, a passionate and important figure in society. 

I was unfortunately unable to view all the workshops, yet I gained information and knowledge on the blood, the skin, deadly diseases, radiology, pharmacies and met amazing people who inspired me even further to pursue a career in science. I especially enjoyed the interactive workshop dealing with the bacteria that may be present on your hands even after you wash them. Even after thoroughly scrubbing my hands (or so I thought I did) with the antibacterial wash they provided, an alarmingly large amount of bacteria was present! I am now more aware of the danger that they possess and how to wash one’s hands when necessary.

Lunch came and went, and it was finally time for the Student Presentations to be presented. My group and I conducted a presentation on how to improve the lives of the disabled. Excitement coursed through me and a tingle of nervousness ran through my spine. Gazing at the enormous crowd of intelligent faces in front of me proved to be a challenging yet confident building experience. All the other presentations belonging to the other schools were really good and interesting, and we held high hopes of winning. 

To wrap it all up, we were given a talk about genes and genetic diseases, and were encouraged to take part in a vote of when was the right time to disclose information to people who are at risk of suffering from a genetic disease. The winners of the competition were announced, and I must admit, I was extremely disappointed that my school did not win the presentation competition. My spirits were lifted when I was handed a free copy of A History of Pathology in 50 objects. I had a wonderful day which opened my mind to the possibilities and opportunities lying in wait for me to grab.

I believe that science is beautiful. The scale of the unknown just waiting to be discovered is mind blowing, driving our minds to delve into it in order to try and unravel the veil of mysteries surrounding science. What really inspired me after my visit to The Royal College of Pathologists was the passion and dedication portrayed by the scientists I met. It really encouraged me to pursue my goal and achieve my ultimate dream. Possessing the power to save lives and introduce the meaning of happy to people is a wonderful thing. This is what it means to be a scientist.

Mariam Akdim, The King Fahad Academy, Year 10 

A Day at the Royal College of Pathologists

… Tuesday had finally arrived. I had been looking forward to it for weeks, and now I was going to The Royal College of Pathologists at last! My friends and I were all fired up and ready to enjoy ourselves. 

Once we’d reached the college, we were immediately greeted and given the appropriate stickers for our school and group colour. Each of us was then given a goody bag which contained a bottle of water, a diary, a newsletter/magazine and so much more. I was thrilled to be given a bag full of souvenirs to remind me of the events of the day to come.

Next, we were taken into a room with other schools to watch Professor Lord Winston live on a screen. He made a speech related to the theme, Science for Living, and gave us all an educational welcome. Then, Don Henderson gave us a brief but intriguing introduction to what was waiting for us.

A steward came and took us upstairs where we were put into groups of ten and given stickers of the main parts of the kidney. We then sat down in a large room and watched a presentation about The Kidney, which was actually quite interesting. However, a photographer was taking pictures throughout the entire presentation and the sound of his camera turned out to be quite distracting. But that didn’t matter when I found out what was coming next.

There were many tables which had their own topic of discussion. As I was part of the medulla group we first sat down at the table which enabled us to test urine for diabetes (but it wasn’t real urine, it was just very realistic). It was really fun matching and comparing the colours on the bottle to the results on the paper. At the end of the demonstration we were handed a Diabetes fact sheet.

The second demonstration we attended was about kidney donations and transplants. We were taught how doctors match the organs of donors with the person whose kidney failed. I found the facts and figures so interesting and I was surprised by how many people die waiting for a kidney transplant, 700 PER ANNUM!!

The third stand we visited was one which showed how to preserve failed kidneys or ones that had suffered other damages. These included kidneys which had stones or tumours in them and ones that were damaged because someone had been kicked in the back. They were all preserved in an acidic solution which prevented them from decaying. (Unfortunately, there was no time to visit the other tables, which disappointed me a bit, but I had fun with the ones I did manage to attend.)

As everyone left the hall and through some corridors, in crowded numbers, we caught sight of many other stands but, sadly, we weren’t allowed to watch the demonstrations because they weren’t meant for us, I think. 

At this point some of us had had enough of carrying our bags and jackets so we went to the cloakroom and put our stuff there. Then, we went back to the main reception where the staff led us into another room full of science. A couple of friends and I chose to go to a stand on genes. We listened to a few facts and looked down microscopes to observe the structures of white blood cells and more. We were also shown a poster of the 23 pairs of chromosomes a human has and how syndromes can occur. It was so interesting, so I decided to interview the scientist with the experience, Steve Chatters. He told me he is a clinical cytogeneticist who works at Great Ormond street Hospital for children, and loves his job because “helping doctors diagnose disease helps children and has a direct impact”. I was surprised by how he reached his profession. He took science and maths A-Levels, a degree in bio-technology and A-grade training until he reached where he is today. I was inspired by his enthusiasm towards his job which he’s been in for 21 years.

In my opinion, the best part of the day was what was next to come …

I took part in some CPR practice and then was advised on how I can become a scientist or doctor after studying well and getting good grades. Then something quite peculiar happened. My friend and I approached a display about feet, and were not given what we were expecting. We were asked if we had any questions and if we liked feet … ? All of a sudden, I caught sight of an interesting device in the corner of the room. We walked up to it and were instantly drawn into the complexity of it. We were told that it helped look at the heart using ultrasound and we were given the chance to try it for real. The kind lady who talked us through the functions of the heart, and so much more, led us through a journey of wonders and excitement and I found myself unable to get distracted by anything that was going on around me (especially as the heart is my favourite organ and biology is my favourite science). Then, to my disappointment, one of my teachers told us that we had to leave the room, and, at that point, I felt like that was the worst news I’ve ever heard!

During our lunch break, we were all able to catch up on each other’s events and experiences of the day so far. But all too soon came the cause for everyone’s nerves … presenting our project!

As I watched my school mates present our work, I felt ambivalent about everything that happened. After our presentation and the distribution of our leaflets, we were all relieved to have finished but were reluctant because we could do no more to try and win.

Afterwards, we watched a presentation on genetics and DNA and were given group work to discuss questions. Then, came the moment all the schools had been waiting for … THE RESULTS!

We watched as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place schools were announced, so sadly, we didn’t win anything. We were all quite disappointed but I definitely didn’t let that spoil my day. The events of that Tuesday inspired me to take up a science profession and there is no doubt in saying that I am never, EVER going to forget this experience.

Science for Living

The 10th Annual Schools Science Conference took place on 19th March 2013

The Royal College of Pathologists

2 Carlton House Terrace
St James’s