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21 October 2016

Second Successful Science Festival for King's

This year’s King’s College science festival DISCOVER@KING’S began by exploring the story of electricity and ended on a contemplation of the nature of consciousness.

In between, there were challenging discussions about developments in soft robotics and a look at the effects of exercise on the heart. The One Show’s Dr Marty Jopson explained the story of electricity through his exciting and interactive stage show ‘Zap, Crackle and Pop’. Dr Andrew Pinsent’s lecture entitled ‘I Count, Therefore I Am’ – a focus on 'Humane Uses and Inhumane Abuses of Physics-Inspired Thinking' – was particularly thought-provoking and prompted some deep, searching questions from the audience of senior King's students.

During the event, the school hosted nine visiting scientists and over 120 primary, prep and senior pupils from other schools.

Pupils, staff and parents were also taken into orbit to look at cutting edge space exploration with Simon Ould’s Space Odyssey, a mobile planetarium. As a surprise to pupils, some exciting and rare samples of moon rocks and a collection of impressive meteorites landed at school during the festival. Pupils were able to enjoy a unique, interactive, hands-on experience of astronomy during their lessons.

As part of Wednesday’s science symposium we welcomed Prof Alan Winfield and Helmut Hauser from the University of Bristol, and Dr Hayley Wyatt from the University of Cardiff. They discussed robotics, biomedical engineering and soft robotics, focusing on developments in these fields, to a theatre full of fascinated pupils.

The festival, now an annual fixture at King’s, has once again been an exciting opportunity for pupils to see science in action, exposing them to a variety of specialities and fields; this year the emphasis was very much on science at the cutting edge.

The three successive public evening lectures were a resounding success. On Tuesday, oceanographer and physicist, Dr Helen Czerski, discussed the oceans and their impact on our lives. On Wednesday, consultant cardiologist (and alumnus of King’s College), Prof John Somauroo, described the very exciting and ground-breaking recent developments in the monitoring and treatment of heart disease. On Thursday Prof Anil Seth, Professor of Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience at Sussex University, discussed the nature of consciousness. Each of our guest speakers brought deep knowledge and infectious passion for their subjects to the talks and engaged with our audiences in some excellent and far-ranging Q&A sessions afterwards.

Commenting on the festival, the Head of Science at King’s, Julie Gresswell said: “We are over the moon at how popular our evening lectures have been with the local public. We thank them for their continued support, for what is becoming a well-supported annual event. Our pupils have been thoroughly immersed in science all week, benefitting from lectures and workshops in a variety of scientific disciplines.

Our thanks also go to staff and pupils involved, to our visiting scientists, and the primary, prep and senior schools who travelled to take part in the events.

Once again, our thoughts now move to what we will do next year!”

Headmaster, Richard Biggs, himself a physics graduate, said: “I am pleased that we were able to push the envelope a little further this year and expose our young men and women to the areas of real and exciting research many of them will be exploring in future. An unintended, but nonetheless valuable theme to emerge through the week was that a lot of the most important work is done at the interface between different disciplines.”

To see photos from the events please click here.

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