GCSE SCIENCE LIVE!  Sia Pathak JAGS <i>(Image: GCSE Science Live)</i>
GCSE SCIENCE LIVE! Sia Pathak JAGS (Image: GCSE Science Live)

In the heart of London, on a weekday mid-morning, a mix of year 10 and 11 students line the streets. They aren’t here to watch the usual west end performances, but instead to witness award winning scientists sharing their knowledge, as part of GCSE Science Live. As one of those students, I can testify that they are in for a day of enlightenment, where they will have their eyes opened to the wonders of science.

The day began with a fascinating lecture from Jim Al-Khalili, talking about the reality of time travel, and whether this is a realistic opportunity for humans in the future.  Eye opening and honestly fascinating, this first talk blew me away, proving that what seemed extraordinary is actually possible according to the laws of physics.

Following this, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock revealed how our understanding of space had developed over time, as well as speaking about the Big Bang, and life in space. She kept the audience hooked, not only by her passion for the subject, but also her humorous anecdotes. I was inspired and impressed by what she has accomplished, and what she aspires to do in the future.

We later heard from Professor Alice Roberts, about her work in biological anthropology. She discussed the intersection of medicine and ancient history, and we were able to explore how she identifies specific features of impressive remains uncovered often by archaeologists, to find out about the life they lived. This was an extremely interesting talk, discussing a discipline that I had not come across previously, and helping deepen my understanding of the body.

Following this, my favourite talk of the day was by Professor Steve Jones, who explored the idea of nature vs nurture, how our genes determine our characteristics, but how the environment we live in also changes these traits. Fascinating and entertaining, he had the auditorium roaring with laughter. He applied what we had learnt in the classroom into reality, as well as drawing our attention to trends in the population further prove his points.

Finally to end, Professor Andrea Sella gave an entertaining presentation, revolving around the fascinating idea of striped beetroot, a topic with surprising levels of chemistry behind it. He was sure to get the audience involved, we were calling out answers as well as watching in awe as he performed ‘magical’ experiments, causing unanimous gasps and cheers.  He certainly left us with a valuable message about the intersection of STEM subjects, we were able to acknowledge the surprising amount of chemistry which provides the basis to biological ecosystems.

The experience was certainly one that contributed positively to my understanding of the GCSE course, it built on the existing knowledge the course provides, and applied it to fascinating scenarios which piqued all of our interest. Furthermore, the chief examiner gave two presentation, outlining skills students need to score highly in exams, which was certainly useful.

A wonderful experience, one I would definitely recommend!