Science Autumn Term Update 2019

The Science Department is thriving and has had a busy Autumn Term so far. This article outlines some of the fantastic opportunities our students enjoyed this term!

So far this year it has been a pleasure to support those students interested in pursuing a career in Medicine or Veterinary Science through MedSoc run by Miss Simpson and restart the Silver CREST awards with Mrs Barden and Mr Entwhistle. Miss Farr has been instrumental in organising and running the trips to Royal College Farm and the Sanger Centre, a leading hub in genetic research. There are many other staff behind the scenes who have supported these activities and without whom these opportunities would not be possible.

As you pursue the articles, some of which have been written by the students, I think you will agree that the activities undertaken have been varied, fun and inspiring.

Royal College Farm
Recently, prospective veterinary students spent a fantastic afternoon at the Royal Veterinary College Dairy Farm where they were given a masterclass in dairy cow husbandry by Dr Nicola Blackie. Students enjoyed learning about feed rationing, dairy genetics and enjoyed the hands on condition scoring. Experiences like these are essential to help to build an impressive work experience portfolio for a competitive application to veterinary school.

“For me, as an aspiring veterinarian,  I found the visit to the dairy farm very interesting and provided an insight as to how the university cares for its animals. It was a follow up to the evening visit to the RVC for a series of lectures, the highlight of which was witnessing the dissection of a jaguar. The talks and trips allow us to bolster our resume and allow us to be certain that this is a career we are interested in. They also enable us to gain advice from those in the profession about how to apply and what the jobs entail and therefore ensure our applications are to the highest standard that they can be”.

By David Townsend, Year 13

Sanger Institute
U6 A Level and IB students visited the Wellcome Sanger Institute, one of the premier centres of genomic discovery and understanding in the world. They experienced a number of workshops focusing on stem cell research, genome mapping and how this is being used to study malignant melanoma.  A highlight was viewing the Open Lab and the opportunity to see one of the world's largest DNA sequencing facilities.  Students were inspired by the range of career pathways that are available within a global scientific research institute such as Sanger.

Biology in Action - London
A level biology students experienced five interactive and engaging sessions delivered by renowned scientists.  This included topics such as “Do you smell what I smell? and the highly enjoyable “Appreciating our mammalian-ness”.  Aspiring medics were particularly engaged with the level of detail and quality of the presentation on oesophageal cancer by Tim Underwood.   

Felsted Medical Society
Membership of Felsted Medical Society (MedSoc) is open to  pupils from Yr 9 to U6 who are interested in a career in Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine or other Allied Healthcare Professions. It provides the opportunity to learn more about the various careers,  be provided with support with the application process as well as academic enrichment opportunities.

Meetings are once a week and a varied programme is created throughout the year. The application process for these careers can be lengthy and difficult, and MedSoc is an opportunity to ask questions, be provided with support on aspects of the application process and gives a forum in which to discuss some of the different work experience or volunteering placements people have been on. There are such a huge number of possibilities with work experience, volunteering or courses available for the application process, so having a shared knowledge base where members can provide contacts or recommend courses they’ve enjoyed is incredibly helpful. In addition, courses and practice opportunities for UCAT, BMAT, and interviews are provided, as well as tutoring where needed, which greatly aids the process. 

During November 2019 I have undertaken a one day interview course, experienced a mock MMI, had two 1:1 mock interviews and attended an interesting presentation by a paramedic. Recently  members undertook a rat dissection focussing on the digestive system. U6 members have already received invitations for interviews for medicine and vet med. and wait with anticipation for more news!

By Elliott Smith, Year 13

Chemistry Mastermind
Chemistry Mastermind is a competition held by the Royal Society of Chemistry for Yrs 9-11 school pupils to select the team to represent the Essex section in the National RSC Top of the bench competition. Representing Felsted in round one were Toby Stringer, Poppy Hughes, Helen Matthews and Alex Oakley. The competition was extremely tough and stretched the student’s chemistry knowledge well beyond the classroom. Although Felsted sadly did not progress to the semi-finals, we were awarded a bronze certificate for being the highest scorers in the runners-up category.

Chemistry in Action - London
On Thursday 14 November, chemistry students along with staff embarked on a trip to the Emmanuel Centre in London to attend the conference ‘Chemistry in Action’. The conference was comprised of five thought-provoking sessions from chemists in academia and in the industry, such as Lewis Dartnell, an astrobiologist who studies how microbial life may survive on Mars. Topics ranged from how chemistry allows us to understand flavour of food, to exam tips so that we will flourish in our A-Level or IB exams in the future, to how developing the technology of materials in the 21st century can solve modern problems - like the epidemic of plastic polluting our oceans.
The conference was an astonishing opportunity for us as chemistry students to see how intriguing and fascinating concepts in the classroom can then be applied to the real world to solve real problems, for example how chemistry can be utilised to make self-healing concrete! I was especially interested in how the infamous poison, arsenic, had been used throughout history, as well as how to escape charges of murder, albeit with a very slim chance of success. Now where can I buy some arsenic?...

By Andy Vong, Year 12

Two L6 students have started working towards a British Science Association gold CREST award. Andy Vong is researching so-called ‘superfoods’ and investigating how ‘super’ they really are in terms of their nutritional content compared to other foods without such an accolade, and Zoia Okulova is beginning her research into DNA damage with some complex biochemical techniques. 

In the lower school Poppy Lether is investigating water pollution for her silver award and other students are combining their Felsted diploma project with CREST on the topic of ‘What is identity?’ This is a fantastic opportunity for the students to develop their practical and investigative skills and learn how to plan real scientific research.

Mercury’s Transit
On Monday 11 November 2019, sixth form students got to take a look at the transit of Mercury. A telescope was taken outside in the afternoon in the hope of seeing this rare celestial event which will not be seen again until 2032. The weather was cloudy but there was just enough clear sky to clearly see Mercury against a bit of blue sky.


Science at Felsted