Two budding science stars from Haybridge High School, Hagley, have won prizes at prestigious national and international science-related competitions.
Student Daniel Starks, and Martha Payne, both in year 10, got through to the final stages of national and international science challenges, in which they had to write persuasive arguments for ethical and sustainable behaviour in science.
Daniel, aged 15, travelled to Berkshire's 'Living Rainforest' centre to collect a trophy for his essay on sustainable living and energy, as part of a day-long international gathering of students. He spent the day meeting and sharing ideas with thirty other prize-winning students from across the UK, Canada, Malta, Seychelles and Nigeria.
He was accompanied at the groundbreaking event by fellow Haybridge student George Taylor who had also taken part in the global competition and two members of school staff. The essay challenge, entitled 'Dear Mr UN Secretary General...' was set up by the team that runs the Living Rainforest as a platform for making young people's environmental concerns heard at the highest levels. Director Karl Hansen said "we were amazed at the global interest from schools in this challenge. Growing from 300 UK-only entries last year to 860 entries from more than 50 countries this year is phenomenal. The quality and range of entries was great, so the prize-winners had to be exceptional".
Daniel, who was one four special trophy-winners, said "I enjoyed the inspirational discussions about the UN Earth Summit and I loved the Living Rainforest."
The day started with a guided tour of the Living Rainforest, one of the UK's leading eco –attractions and ended with a formal prize-giving ceremony for students from nine nationalities and panel debates on six key issues, including pollution, education, climate change and leadership. The overall competition winner, a New Zealand student, will fly to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil and take part in the UN Earth Summit Rio+20, where world leaders and scientists will discuss priorities for environmental action.
Meanwhile fellow Year 10 student Martha Payne racked up another impressive achievement when she was selected as a finalist in the Royal College of Science Union’s Science Challenge, after answering a question set by Lord Robert Winston about the five main ethical issues that face modern science and how we tackle them. Martha was sent an invitation from Lord Robert Winston to go to the Houses of Parliament for the final, where she received a tour of the Houses of Parliament, followed by a prestigious reception in the Attlee Room.
Martha, aged 15 and who competed against 14-18 year olds from 560 UK schools, said “it’s something that I never thought would happen. What I really liked about the competition was how it was possible for anyone to enter it – you didn’t have to be good at science or have a particular knowledge about something, just a passion for what you were writing about.”
David Harkness, Head of Science at Haybridge said “the great thing about both these prizes is not just that they show the students can make convincing arguments on technical issues, but that they are about the ethics and morals of science – it’s a great indication of what our young people are about”.