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Some of the brightest minds from local schools were put to the test recently at the annual AWE A-Level Science Challenge.
The event forms part of AWE’s ‘AWEsome Education’ campaign – an initiative which aims to encourage the study of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in education and leading to future careers.
Eight schools attended the event, held at Tadley Community Centre on October 15. The day began with a talk from Chief Scientist at AWE, Andrew Randewich who spoke about the exciting worldwide scientific developments.
Pupils had to tackle a variety of problems which included determining unknown compounds through test reactions, deciphering an encrypted code using a series of switches and LED’s to identify logic gates: a laser challenge where the teams were given the task of identifying the sugar content of soft drinks and then finally solving questions as part of a Gauss gun challenge. A gauss gun is a magnetic linear accelerator and uses a series of permanent magnets to accelerate and fire small ball bearings. The students took precise measurements and used mathematical calculations to predict how far the ball bearings would travel.
The event was organised by a team of AWE graduates as part of their development programme with the guidance and help of project sponsor John Ansell, one of AWE’s assurance governance managers. John has been involved in the project for the last nine years and sees the event as a brilliant opportunity for the graduates to develop their softer skills and extend their knowledge of AWE.
AWE Graduate Dr Steve Wilcock said: “The day has really stretched the students. It is very much about bringing STEM to life and getting the students involved in practical activities to enthuse them to continue with their STEM studies. We hope that they feel inspired by this day.”
John Ansell said the tasks had been challenging but had stretched the science and mathematical knowledge of the pupils. “This year we had several new schools participating, it’s great to see we are reaching a wider audience,” he said.
Abbey pupil, Georgie Allan said: “It was a really fun day with very challenging work which has extended my knowledge. I especially enjoyed the cryptography as it is good to learn about something different. ”
Following a day of demanding mental challenges the Newbury based school, St. Bartholomew's clinched first place and the prize of £500.
Dr Richard Costambeys said: “I am very proud of our extremely talented bunch of young people. This is an excellent event for our high A level achievers. The challenges have extended the students interest and knowledge in STEM and it has been a great opportunity to work alongside young scientists.”
The schools that took part in the challenge included – St Bartholomew’s, Little Heath, The Abbey, Kennet, Park House, Theale Green, Trinity and Bulmersh.
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