Teen science talent recognised with awards

Round & About


Tomorrow’s STEM talent has been honoured at the Oxfordshire High Sheriff Young Engineer Awards

Well done to everyone who took park in the recent High Sheriff Young Engineer Awards Abingdon & Witney College to recognise students who show great promise in the fields of engineering, resistant materials and design technology.

State schools across the county were invited to nominate students aged 12-18 across three age categories in the awards sponsored by Abingdon & Witney College, The Engineering Trust and Lucy Group Ltd, a long-standing Oxford company that engineers smart electrics for the built environment.

The judging panel comprised Richard Dick (executive chairman, Lucy Group), Sally Scott (High Sheriff of Oxfordshire), Andy Linfoot (engineering director, Lucy Electric) and Mark Vingoe (CEO, The Engineering Trust). Prizes included £400 for the winning student in each category and £1,000 for the students’ respective school or college. There were also runner-up prizes in each category, a Team Award and an overall High Sheriff Award.

Richard Dick, judge and founder of the Oxfordshire High Sheriff Young Engineer Awards, said: “The calibre of entries this year was excellent, so I applaud everyone who was nominated. The next generation of students who choose STEM careers will be instrumental in finding the scientific and engineering solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Seeing how these promising young engineers think – and turn concepts into reality – gives me every reason to believe that we will be in good hands.”

The winners

Year 12 & 13 award

Winner: Kye Gustafsson – Abingdon & Witney College
Kye is an avid CAD user who designed and made a working centrifugal pump. The judges were particularly impressed that he constructed the impeller, drive shaft, bracket and housing. He CNC milled the impeller blades, turned the drive shaft on a lathe and milled the keyway into it. He then fabricated a bracket from sheet metal and 3D printed the housing.

2nd place: Michael Vereker – King Alfred’s Academy
As an integral member of the tech team for school productions, Michael designed and produced load-bearing structures for many of the stage sets using CAD/CAM processes. He also worked alongside a professional lighting technician to programme the productions lights. Michael has a passion for DT and has completed work experience at the Veolla Nuclear Solutions HQ (Abingdon), where he also participated in a Solidworks CAD class.

Joint 3rd place: Emily Saunders – UTC Oxfordshire
Emily is studying for a BTEC Extended Diploma in Engineering, A level product Design and A Level Maths. She was a volunteer at a nursing home, where the staff had a specific requirement for supporting one eldering gentleman with disabilities. Emily developed an aid that enabled the disabled resident to carry out everyday activities, such as writing and doing puzzles, from his wheelchair, while meeting other criteria of the brief: easy to use, deploy and store.

Joint 3rd place: Olivia Estevez – Wood Green School
Olivia likes to explore materials and product design and has developed two notable concepts. The first is a mug, inspired by Chindogu product design principles, that pushes the boundaries of function and form. The second is a landscape design for the redevelopment of wasteland at school, using natural materials to create architectural sculptures that connect different areas into one harmonious outdoor breakout space.

Year 10 & 11 Award

Winner: Tom Wigley – St Birinus
Tom designed and made a metal desk lamp. The judges noted his attention to detail in respect of both ergonomics and aesthetics. His design included the electric circuitry and wire harness, while he demonstrated considerable metalworking skills in fabricating and assembling the components. He also considered the practicality of putting his prototype into production. Tom is a founding member of the school’s Enginerring Club and has helped support Y7 students with slot car designs and construction.

2nd place: Lilly Broome – Burford School
Lilly has demonstrated extensive engineering design and production skills, using a variety of processes such as heat treatments, finishing, centre lathe work – including knurling and thread cutting – and the use of CAM and CNC machinery, enabling her to create products to an outstanding level of tolerance. Examples shown included an attractive red & black pivot desk lamp with an hourglass shaped hood.

Joint 3rd place: Jed Thorburn – Futures Institute
Jed’s projects have ranged from desigining and building a water turbine as part of a project linked to Intermediate Technology, designing a glider for an RAF competition, redesigining a school from scratch (a theoretical disaster recover competition from the international education organisation BIEA) and designing an app to encourage children to spend more time outdoors.

Joint 3rd place: Leon Conway – Burford School
Leon has demonstrated excellent design and production skills, utilising a wide variety of manufacturing processes – including cutting, wasting, routing, finishing, electronics and the use of CAM and CNC machinery – across various classes of material. He has created final products to a high level of tolerance, including a wooden guitar made from high quality sustainable materials.

Year 8 & 9 Award

Winner: Lucy Busson – Fitzharrys
Lucy’s research-driven approach to Design & Technology strongly appealed to the judges. In addition to freehand drawing skills, she uses CAD with great accuracy. She communicates her design ideas well and uses research to good effect when analysing a brief. She is methodical and practical, working with tools and machines with a high degree of precision. Lucy is also interested in materials and sustainability, exemplified by a bird feeder design project that supported her nomination.

2nd place: Olivia Taylor – Chipping Norton School
Olivia designed and made a decorative lamp using a range of materials, including wood, plastic and metal. This involved forming the plastic shade out of acrylic, using a commercial oven and a jig, cutting and shaping hardwoods using hand tools (including a tenon saw and chisel), and using electrical woodworking equipment such as a band facer and pillar drill. She also cut metal to size to form pivot points for the mechanism. Olivia finally decorated her product with a range of beads sourced from the Textiles department. 

Team Award

Winner: UTC Oxfordshire – Hannah Weston, Charlotte Turner, Maddie Pryce, Floyd Rayner, Thomas Bristow, Cambell Payne.

This team of year 12 students is taking part in the Engineering Development Trust (EDT) Industrial Cadets Gold Award, working with Abingdon-based aerospace company Reaction Engines, who have set them a challenge of recovering heat and converting that to energy. The UTC team consists of 50:50 males/female students and a mix between Engineering and Science students. 

The students attend fortnightly meetings with Reaction Engines, project managing themselves, and work as a close-knit team to engineer a waste heat to power solution. They attended a residential at Bath University as part of the programme, where they worked on the project alongside their mentors from Reaction Engines. The judges were influenced by the ambition and aptitude of the students, who are using industrial CAD packages (Fusion 360) and complex maths to model their concept before manufacturing the high-precision prototype using nanotubes and machining 0.8mm holes using CNC milling processes. 

High Sheriff Award

Winner: Kye Gustafsson – Abingdon & Witney College
The judges deemed Kye worthy of the overall High Sheriff Award due to the sheer professionalism of his end-to-end centrifugal pump design and build project (described above), including full supporting documentation. 

A holistic approach = glowing skin

Round & About


Dr Seema Warner, skin expert & founder of Oxford’s YourSkinStory, explains why a holistic approach will add that vital glow to your skin

Your skin….

It is your barrier to the outside world. Standing up to attack from UV rays, pollution, bacteria, pathogens, dirt and grime and environmental toxins. It’s a powerhouse of immunity making hormones that are important for defence and physically keeping our internal environment of blood, tissues and cells protected. It has the power to change how we feel about ourselves. We wear it every day and if we don’t care for it, it won’t be able to care for us. The power of healthy, beautiful skin goes beyond just a great selfie – although that’s always a bonus!

“The power of healthy, beautiful skin goes beyond just a great selfie – although that’s always a bonus!”

Your skin is unique to you. Holding within it cells responsible for oil production, pigment, cell repair and turnover, as well as its own population of bacteria and microbiota known as your skin microbiome. No one else has skin like yours or receives the same sensory input, external stimuli or nutrition as you do. Which is why it’s so important to treat it individually with a personalised approach that fits into your life and addresses your unique make up. It is yours and yours alone.

We need to stop seeing skin as detached from the rest of our body. It’s very much part of our whole body. Blood flow, lymphatics and nerve cells ensure that there’s a constant connection between our internal environment and that of our skin. If skin care is not integrated, we are not treating our skin fully or adequately. We need to step back and see the whole picture. If you’ve seen the difference a really good night’s sleep can make to your skin, then you’ve already seen the power of integrating skin health care!

Get in touch

If you’ve tried many skin products with no luck or simply don’t know where to start. I’d love to help you find the ideal routine for your skin. Or if you’ve struggled with a skin issue that will not respond to other treatments or are interested in healing from the inside and out, please do get in touch. I run online skin programmes to help you virtually through product, nutrition and lifestyle advice, as well as treatment programmes from my Oxford clinic. I make my advice as practical as possible and personalised to your skin, body and lifestyle so you can put things into practice in a way that makes sense to you. Skin treatments focus on skin health as well as results and emotional well-being to give you whole body results.

New scientific research is emerging every day, with the realisation that we can control our health more than we initially thought. That although we’re born with a specific set of genes, it’s our environment and lifestyle that modify and switch these on or off. And that we’re connected throughout our body with an incredibly sophisticated system that relies on each aspect supporting the other. Each day will bring new elements for your body to manage and so your skin will change to accommodate this. It will tell the story of you and your life. It is your skin story.

IF Oxford

Round & About


From Friday 18th to Monday 28th October, the funky IF Oxford invites you to enjoy activities at more than 30 venues including the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, City of Oxford College’s Technology Campus and some great pubs, too!

October is your chance to explore cutting-edge research from world-leading academics, uncover big ideas and ask even bigger questions about science, humanity, the world at large and beyond.

There’s hands-on science for all ages at the Westgate Wonderlab on Saturday 19th and, at the Explorazone in Oxford Town Hall on Sunday 20th, find out how identical twins differ, discover the secret powers of super-hero worms and consider what the avatar you choose says about you while evil cyborg sea monsters take to the stage.

Build a robot to compete in a Robochallenge or enjoy Science at the Shops (Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th Oct; Templars Square); explore particle physics with Minecraft or use a smart phone to investigate human anatomy. The body is an extraordinary system – watch a powerful duet between Joel Brown of Candoco Dance Company and Eve Mutso, former Principal Dancer of Scottish Ballet in a beautiful performance called 111 (one hundred and eleven). 111 is the imaginary number of vertebrae that Joel and Eve have between them: Eve “moves like she has a hundred” while Joel’s spine is fused and he jokes he only has 11.

See the earliest animals on earth in an art exhibition (First Imprints, from 19th Oct), go “speed-dating for ideas” at Waterstones (24th Oct), or perform life-saving operations (in a board game) at the Old Fire Station (Mon 28th Oct).

With massive fossils being unearthed even now, hear the latest research on whether dinosaurs had colourful feathers and learn about fossilised dung (The Dinosaurs Rediscovered; 23rd Oct); explore time in an immersive multi-sensory performance (The relentless approach of better times; 24th Oct); experience an audio tour as Oxford’s “sonic landscape” reflects an environmental crisis (Only Expansion; 25th Oct); or save penguins (The Crowd and The Cosmos; 25th Oct) as you head to the edges of the universe with BBC astronomer and presenter of The Sky and Night Professor Chris Lintott.

Hold meteorites and moon rock (Apollo@50; 26th & 27th Oct); watch researchers battle for the Iron Crown (Fe Fi Fo Fum; 25th Oct), hear about new elements (Superheavy; 25th Oct) or enjoy escape rooms, comedy, poetry, music and more. The majority of events are free to enter. (Donations using a Pay What You Decide model.)

More info

For the full IF Oxford programme

Spectacular science

Round & About


Science and art come alive this March at Innovate Guildford 2019

Our science and arts festival, Innovate Guildford is back for its fourth year and this year’s event promises to be the biggest and best yet!

Innovate Guildford celebrates the best in innovation in Guildford and beyond. Building on the success of previous events, there are exhibitors from across the local area – Innovate Guildford will inspire and delight people of all ages. There’s plenty for the kids to do and best of all the event is completely free!

Already confirmed this year are McLaren Cars, The Pirbright Institute, a pop-up Planetarium and the Academy of Contemporary Music. They will also be interactive exhibits and workshops for lots of hands-on fun.

Proving there really is something for everyone at this year’s Innovate Guildford, visitors will be able to take part in a wide range of activities including slime design, coding, Minecraft, robotics and even step inside a planetarium.

Plus we’ve got a special treat for computer gamers – Guildford’s megastar game company Media Molecule will be at the show with brand new entertainment!

The event which showcases technology, innovation and creativity in the region, will run from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 23rd March at G Live, so save the date for a day out with a difference.

To find out more about the day, exhibitors and workshops visit innovateguildford.co.uk

Seeing red

Round & About


Tony Hersh of Newbury Astronomy Group explains more about what we can see in the skies above us this month, including the red moon.

July is exciting for astronomers due to the total lunar eclipse between 8.45pm and 9.30pm on Friday, 27th.

During this event Earth comes between the moon and sun. Instead of plunging the moon into darkness from Earth’s shadow, something unusual happens. Sunlight is made of light of all the colours of the rainbow mixed together, but as it travels through Earth’s atmosphere, the path of the light changes as it hits air molecules and particles. Colours with shorter wavelengths, such as blue, are scattered off in random directions but colours with longer wavelengths, such as the reds, are scattered less. So the light that emerges after being bent in the Earth’s atmosphere has more red colour and turns the moon an amazing ruby hue. Have a look out and see how red the moon becomes!

Turning to constellations, see if you can find part of Sagittarius which is visible low in the sky directly south and appears as the shape of a teapot. Planets are difficult to spot in a lightish sky but Mars is at its largest and brightest all year this month and should be visible close to the moon on the first of the month. Venus should be clearly visible just to the left of a crescent moon at 9.30pm on 15th July and Saturn again just to the left of the moon around the same time on 24th.

Object of the month

When a comet approaches the sun, the frozen gases trapped beneath its surface evaporate and dislodge dust grains from the surface of the comet which can be seen from Earth as the comet’s “tail”. In 2014, after a 10-year journey, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft finally reached its destination with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. For the next two years, Rosetta orbited the rubber-duck-shaped comet, analysing the dust the comet was losing. Recently a landmark study was published, reporting about half of the 35,000 dust grains captured and analysed by the Rosetta probe were made of organic molecules; carbon-based molecules such as proteins, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids. The finding adds weight to the suggestion that comets were responsible for “seeding” the early Earth with organic matter which eventually gave rise to life.

Newbury Astronomical Society hosts monthly meetings for beginners and experienced astronomers. Visit www.newburyastro.org.uk. Email any questions to [email protected]