Bucks Young Scientist nominees tell all

News Crew’s Rosie O’Toole gives us the insight from the three nominees put forward by the school for this year’s Bucks Young Scientist Awards.  

The Bucks Young Scientist Awards are a set of annual awards run by Science Oxford where schools can nominate students for outstanding work in their respective science. The awards include Young Biologist, Young Chemist and Young Physicist of the Year, and schools can also nominate students for work within psychology, applied science, and health and social care. 

In the words of Science Oxford, the awards are important as they “believe that hard work, commitment and achievement in science should be recognised”, running the Young Scientists of the Year celebration to “honour some of the most outstanding Year 13 science students”.

Physics’ Mr Crocker had this to say about why WHS is involved with the awards: “It is important that our high-flying scientists are given the recognition they deserve for all the hard work that they have put in. Although they are recognised in school through the science colours system, it is the opportunity for external recognition. There is also the opportunity for the student’s family to share in the awards ceremony and for our high-flyer to meet likeminded students from other schools. There is usually an informal buffet and drinks followed by a talk from a keynote speaker – all before our students get the opportunity to publicly collect their certificates and receive applause. We have nominated students for all three categories of Young Chemist, Young Biologist and Young Physicist. We are a very fortunate school to have outstanding students in all three areas.”

Mr Crocker also explained how each of the nominees were selected from the many excellent Year 13 science students. “Nominations are for each strand and they are chosen by the Head of Biology, Head of Chemistry and Head of Physics in consultation with their subject teachers,” he said. The Head of Subject decides their criteria for the award. It is a combination of effort and achievement or where staff feel that the student warranted recognition for their contribution to their subject.

“This year it is going to be slightly different as, due to COVID, it is a virtual awards ceremony. This does, however, mean that the normal restrictions on the number of guests that you are allowed does not apply. In the past, there were only enough tickets for the winner, one guest and the teacher who nominated. Although different, the awards are no less well deserved. Well done to the students who have worked hard, allowed their lights to shine and have been nominated.”

The three nominees this year are Catherine McKeown for Biology, Rebekah Sparks for Chemistry and Mashal Hussain for Physics. The virtual event was held on 25 November, featuring numerous speakers, including Zoe Clark, Mika Shearwood and Andrew Kensley, and a presentation on mathematical modelling before, during, and after COVID-19, given by Professor Lisa White. 

Catherine McKeown, Biology nominee:
Biology is so important for our understanding of life – not only is it really relevant, you learn about the immune system and responses to pathogens, but you can also see how biology will be at the forefront of helping to tackle challenges in the future, such as with conservation. I chose to do Biology because I enjoyed it at GCSE and wanted to learn more about certain topics that aren’t fully explained at GCSE – for example, cell division and meiosis. I also study maths, chemistry and geography.

Rebekah Sparks, Chemistry nominee:
Along with Chemistry, I take Maths and Physics. Chemistry was the A Level I knew I wanted to do first, I loved it at GCSE and I was really excited to learn more about it. I find Chemistry particularly interesting as practically everything around us can be brought back to Chemistry and there’s so much more that we can learn and improve about the world that can be unlocked through Chemistry. I’m planning on doing a degree in Chemistry next year so Chemistry A Level will definitely help with that! To anyone wanting to take science A Level, I would say go for it, as long as you have an interest in the subject and are willing to work hard, you will really enjoy it and learn valuable skills. Also, I just want to give a shout out to the amazing science department and amazing teachers that have taught me at A Level and inspired me though the years. 

Mashal Hussain, Physics nominee:
I think Physics is important because it allows us to describe and understand the universe, from subatomic particles to entire galaxies. It has a significant relationship to the other natural sciences because of fundamental laws such as thermodynamics and electromagnetism. Physics is also essential for engineering and plays a key role in technological advancement. I found Physics interesting at GCSE and got a good grade so made the decision to take it at A Level. I plan to go to university to get a degree in Physics, and then perhaps pursue the subject further and do research. If you want to learn more about why things are the way, they are and want to understand the world around you from how your touch screen works to the chemical reactions that are damaging our Ozone Layer, then you should take science at A Level. As opposed to GCSE, you get to go deeper into specific topics which will allow you to satisfy your curiosity if you are a very inquisitive person.

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