Page 26 - Independent Schools Magazine
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 The ground breaking development of the controversial ‘three parent baby’ technique was the hot topic as three notable professors from the North East inspired the next generation of scientists at Dame Allan’s Schools, Newcastle.
Professor Robert McFarland’s pioneering studies into Mitochondrial Donation, an IVF technique using genetic materials from three people to give families affected by mitochondrial disease the chance of having healthy children, was discussed as part of the Schools’ first Science Lecture Evening, ‘Saving Lives One Cell at a Time’.
To coincide with British Science Week, Prof. McFarland, based at Newcastle University, was invited to join fellow professors Liz Sockett and Ruth Plummer to talk to pupils and parents at the Senior School.
He is currently leading a major study on the outcome of Mitochondrial Donation following the 2016 parliamentary changes to the law to permit the procedure, nicknamed ‘three parent baby’ in the UK.
Hailed as the inspiration behind the creation of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, Prof. Plummer shared
her story of the success of the anti-cancer drug rucaparib which was discovered by her and her
team at Newcastle University and the Northern Institute for Cancer Research.
Sharing the stage, Prof. Sockett returned to the school she
left in 1980 to talk about her exciting work at the University
of Nottingham to establish the predatory bacteria Bdellovibrio as a way of fighting against superbugs.
Jason Downie, Head of Science at Dame Allan’s, said: “It was such an honour to welcome three esteemed scientists to the school, and everybody was inspired by what they all had to say.
“The pupils were amazed to hear first hand how far science has taken the speakers in their careers, and also how big an impact they have all had on the world.
“We would like to thank all
three for taking time out of their busy schedule to pass on their inspiration to our scientists in the making.”
Dame Allan’s Principal, Dr John Hind, said: “Newcastle has become a real city of science in recent years, so how fitting that these three exceptional scientists treat us to such an interesting talk in the town.
“It is a great inspiration to our pupils that they all started in school labs similar to ours and have gone on to carry out such important work.”
event. Throughout a busy and demanding day, they were clearly keen to engage with the visitors who clustered excitedly around all the stands, eager to see what was going on and to take part. There was a real sense of excitement amongst visitors and sixth formers alike.”
In addition, the visitors spent time exploring aspects of all three major sciences: a chemistry show gave an introduction to exploring chemical reactions, in physics
they made their own rockets and launched them on the school field while biology gave a chance to discover how we, and other living things, use some of our senses.
Focus on science
Robert Winston inspires with “Why bother with Science” lecture
 Professors inspire new wave of scientists
The New Beacon School, Kent, welcomed Professor Lord Robert Winston to school last month (March) to deliver talks, the first to an audience of 9-13 year olds from 8 local schools on the subject of “Why bother with Science?”
The audience was privileged
to see footage of cutting edge technology in use such as a journey through the human digestive tract using a futuristic ‘Pillcam’. This is a tiny camera fitted with a flashing LED
light; designed to show up
any abnormalities inside the human body. It is swallowed like traditional tablets and takes the same route through the body
as food. They also saw footage from the Super Mouse experiment which tested two mice, one with modified DNA and one without. The Super mouse experiment
was an important step forward in helping us to understand how we might be able to treat diseases.
Professor Winston said, “I was interested in science from the age of eight and could often be
Science Fair
Scientists from Bancroft’s
School year 13 were in action
at the Essex school’s annual Primary Science Fair when they entertained over 200 visiting year 5 and 6 pupils from a wide range of local primary schools. This year the Fair took the theme of “Exploration and Discovery” which was reflected in the stalls organised by the Sixth Formers.
As ever, there was a huge
range of interests shown: The Heart, Invisible Ink, Antibiotics and Diseases, Space Travel,
Planet Exploration and Rocket Engines. The visitors particularly enjoyed the stalls which gave them the chance of a hands-
on experience: the slimier the better. Dr Elizabeth Swinbank, Honorary Fellow in Science Education, University of York, who visited the fair and judged the stalls was fulsome in her praise, “All the teams are to be commended for the energy and enthusiasm that they put into the
found making and experimenting with things.” He advised pupils to “Follow the thing that interests you and a good teacher will
be able to capitalise on your interest and point you in the right direction to further your quest for information.”
A second talk was delivered to an audience of 40 sixth form pupils who were interested in pursuing careers in the field of science
and medicine. The Professor advised them that one of the most important lessons is “To understand failure as we cannot learn how to succeed unless we learn how to fail.”
Mike Piercy, Headmaster of
The New Beacon, said, “What a privilege for so many students to have heard Professor Winston speak with such passion, conviction, knowledge and wisdom. He encouraged the audience to use the whole
brain, to embrace the arts, to be empathic, to use their emotional intelligence to remember the value of humility. An inspiring day!”
 Pictured: From left to right, Dame Allan’s Schools’ Principal Dr John Hind, with professors Liz Sockett, Robert McFarland and Ruth Plummer, and pupils.
26 Independent Schools Magazine
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