Annie Victorious at Tonbridge School’s Science Snippets

Annie Victorious at Tonbridge School’s Science Snippets

On Wednesday 10 May, a Caterham delegation was delighted to attend Tonbridge School’s Science Snippets competition. This event is a fantastic opportunity for GCSE and A Level scientists to present four-minute speeches on a science topic of their choice, with suitably science-themed prizes up for grabs for the winners in each age group.

Presenting in front of an audience of one’s peers is a crucial skill in all walks of life – many would call it a daunting skill. Presenting a huge science topic and making it engaging and accessible for all audiences, irrespective of the listeners’ knowledge base, is another skill entirely. During the Science Snippets evening, twenty-two speakers from eight schools took to the stage and used their moments in the spotlight to great effect, introducing us to topics as far apart as the science of photography and protecting the planet’s pollinators, via how not to build the perfect rocket.

Caterham’s GCSE representatives were Annie and Isabella (Fourth Year). Annie introduced the expansion of the universe in an ironically compact, but very vibrant and informative, presentation, with Edwin Hubble being namedropped in a way that he probably would not have expected. Isabella delivered an insightful, empathetic overview of type 1 diabetes, and was one of only a few speakers to rely largely on just one PowerPoint slide in her presentation. It was terrific to see how she used this slide to underpin her speech without letting it overpower her address.

Our A-Level representatives, Xavier and Tiffany (Lower Sixth), took to the stage after a quick refreshment break. Xavier’s increasingly formidable track record as a presenter continued that evening when he introduced a fictional robot walking around the tiles of a board game, which turned out to be a revealing metaphor for reinforcement learning in computers and AI. Tiffany explained the potential energy revolution of nuclear fusion, a topic that has latterly received some attention in the news which, as she suggested, should be treated with cautious optimism and healthy scepticism.

After the final presenter had completed their speech, the judges – all of whom were either science teachers or industry scientists – retired to decide the results. Our lead host, Mr Fisher of Tonbridge School, reflected on the importance of science communication in everyday life, and how it is our duty as scientists not just to understand our work, but to be able to explain it clearly and persuasively to all our neighbours without any political partisanship.

Caterham’s Annie was victorious in the GCSE category. Congratulations to them and their fellow presenters for an excellent evening of science, all of which was cast in the welcoming shadow of an elaborate model of the Periodic Table and a sculpture representing the common organic compound cyclohexane. Many thanks to Tonbridge for hosting and judging the event; we hope to return next year, when we shall see if our winning streak will continue. O-Teen (Upper Sixth), who won the A-Level category last year, was delighted to be there to see his successors seizing their moments.

If you would like to deliver a presentation on an aspect of science, before a supportive audience of your peers, make sure you speak to your science teacher, and we will be delighted to tell you more about the plethora of opportunities that we have for you. Many of my best memories from my days as a school pupil are linked to the presentations, on science and other aspects of my work, that I was able to deliver; I always look forward to days like Science Snippets because it is such an honour to celebrate our pupils taking this step on a huge stage.

Mr R. Evans

Teacher of Chemistry and Science Enrichment

Link to a livestream of the event:

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