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Student Science Conference tackles ‘real-world’ issues

There was an international flavour to the Student Science Conference held at Tonbridge School with pupils from Germany and Japan among those taking part.

Held on Friday 8 March, the conference brought together more than 120 students from schools in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, London and much further afield to present their work and discuss scientific topics with their peer group, in an event which replicated an academic conference.

Pupils had opportunities to present posters on their own research and to ask questions about each other’s results. The conference was also an opportunity for delegates to see how the three traditional sciences of biology, chemistry and physics can be applied together to tackle ‘real-world’ problems, with topics including building self-driving delivery robots, helping the visually impaired to buy products, the differing effects of heat on muscular endurance for men and women, and tackling cancer. 

They also listened to current scientists speak about their research and interests. Keynote talks were given by Bonnie Wallace, Professor of Molecular Biophysics at Birkbeck College, University of London, on anti-epileptic drugs, and by Dr Chiara Ambrosio from University College London on the relationship between art and science.

Many of the day’s activities took place in Tonbridge’s newly opened Barton Science Centre, a three-storey, £20million building which has placed science and technology at the very heart of school life. 

David Pinker, a Physics teacher at Tonbridge, organised the Student Science Conference. He said: “The main idea is to give students a taste of how scientists communicate their research and findings. I was very impressed with the quality of the work on display, and it was wonderful to see such passion for science and discovery being displayed by so many young people.”

Schools taking part, in addition to Tonbridge, included The Judd School; Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar, Faversham; Trinity School, Croydon; Sevenoaks School; Claremont High School Academy, London; Eastbourne College; St Paul’s School; Westminster School, and Winchester College. 

Also represented were Otto von Taube Gymnasium, in Munich, and Aichi Prefectural Jishukan Senior High School, in Toyohashi, Japan.

James Priory, Headmaster at Tonbridge School, performed the official opening of the conference and gave a welcome address. “Most importantly you will be learning from each other, sharing knowledge, ideas and inspiration,” he told pupils. “I hope you all enjoy this celebration of science.” 


  • Barton Science Centre