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Science Conference attracts a global gathering

There was a truly global nature to the Tonbridge Science Conference 2021 as students from Australia, Mexico and the USA joined those from various schools in the UK during the virtual event on Tuesday 2 March.

Now in its sixth year, this year’s conference once more brought together students to present their own work, discuss scientific topics and share their passion for discovery. Replicating many aspects of an academic conference, the event, which also tied in with British Science Week, took place entirely online, rather than in the School’s state-of-the-art Barton Science Centre.

The programme included virtual poster sessions displaying students’ research findings on nuclear power and climate change, space, pandemics, healthy eating, plants, diabetes, stroke rehabilitation and cancer treatments, to name just a few. Other intriguing topics being presented by schools included ‘Can we change time?’ and ‘What place in our solar system can we next call home?’  

Keynote speakers Dr Ella Gilbert and Dr Hannah Dalgleish discussed, respectively, the topics of Antarctic ice shelves and how astrophysics helps sustainable development across the world.

An atmospheric physicist and climate modeller at the University of Reading, Dr Gilbert’s research has examined the causes of melting on Antarctic ice shelves, which has involved her doing fieldwork at both Poles. She regularly appears in print and broadcast media as an expert on climate topics.

An astrophysicist by training, Dr Dalgleish works for both the University of Oxford and the University of Namibia, presenting to the conference live from the latter location. The author of the ‘Astrophysics Girl’ blog, she is involved in numerous projects related to dark sky tourism, astronomy education and science communication. 

Phil Deakin, Head of Science at Tonbridge, said: “We were delighted to enable so many bright and talented students from across the globe to share their work at the conference. It was tremendous to see those from different schools, countries and cultures coming together to discuss, debate and learn from one another.

"The poster presentations dealt with an impressive range of subjects, and overall I found it very inspiring to witness such passion for discovery throughout the conference.”

Schools taking part, in addition to Tonbridge, included The Judd School, Benenden School and Queen Elizabeth Grammar, all from Kent; Westminster School, from London, and Claremont High School, from Middlesex; Oundle School, Northants; Hutchins School, Australia; Colegio Carol Baur School, Mexico; and Los Altos High School, California, USA.

James Priory, Headmaster at Tonbridge School, gave a welcome address. “For all the incredible challenges of 2020 and 2021, it does feel as if Science has delivered hope as well,” he told students.

“It is incredibly exciting to be hosting our conference entirely virtually, and in doing so to be able to welcome students from around the world. I have no doubt that this will be a stimulating event and a celebration of new scientific thinking and research.”

Pictured above: Students meet online during the Tonbridge Science Conference. 

Below: Stills from the presentations on astronomy (top) and Antarctica.


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