Two future scientists scored top gold awards after putting their skills to the test in national science competitions.
Challenging extracurricular exams in chemistry and physics were no match for talented HSDC Havant students Lucy Mannie and Chen Lin.
Second-year A Level student Lucy took on the UK Chemistry Olympiad, an annual competition run by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
After achieving a silver award last year, Lucy wanted to beat her best and try again, taking on challenging questions designed to test problem-solving skills and students’ knowledge of chemistry in real-world situations.
“It’s a way of putting chemistry into context. It’s taking something you know and putting it into a context you never thought you would. I know a lot more of the content because last year I’d only been doing it for a term. I’ve done a bit of reading ahead.
“Sometimes when you’re sitting in class learning chemistry, it all feels very theoretical. Actually seeing it in context with current issues motivates you because you can see why you’re learning what you’re learning and what you can do with it in the future.”
This year, more than 8,000 students from 750 schools and colleges entered the competition, answering questions on interesting current topics like E10 petrol and the quantitative chemistry in lateral flow tests.
Lucy, who also studies Biology and Mathematics, was over the moon to achieve a gold award. She said:
“I couldn’t quite believe it because there were hard questions. It’s amazing because I have been doing the Maths Challenge since Year 7.
“I have always loved school. I don’t like being told ‘that’s just the way it is’, I like understanding why something is. I wasn’t even going to take Chemistry A Level, now I’m going to university to study it!”
Dr Lesley Brewer, Head of Faculty for STEM & Social Sciences, said:
“I am pleased to say that all of the HSDC entrants achieved at least a bronze award, however Lucy Mannie achieved a gold Award, which puts her in the top 8.9% of the 8,668 UK entrants.
“For a student to achieve a gold award is a real accolade, and Lucy should be very proud of herself. It will look great on her CV in years to come!”
First-year student Chen Lin entered the Senior Physics Olympiad, which requires detailed knowledge of the Year 12 curriculum to solve the problems.
Chen was surprised and pleased to achieve a gold award for his efforts, a score which is only achieved by 9% of students who enter.
A Level student Chen studies Physics, Mathematics, Further Mathematics and EPQ, and has offered his advice on high workloads and whether he would recommend the Physics Olympiad. He said:
“My friends say I’m crazy, the work isn’t that bad if I’m not lazy. Do your homework when it’s set, not on the last day before it’s due. Everyone does have time to do it.
“I would recommend it because nothing bad can happen. It’s not that much extra effort and the rewards are quite nice because you can put it on your personal statement.”
Lucy, who is working towards her Queen’s Scout Award and plays the clarinet in her spare time, added:
“I write up every lesson as I go which means I can get straight on with revision rather than trying to remember what we’ve learned. Try and find a balance – I don’t always take free time for myself!”
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