Schools’ Writing Competition Trinity Term 2020

We are delighted to announce the winners and runners up for this term’s Oxford Scientist School Writing Competition. We received 535 entries for this competition, the most entries we have ever received. Thank you all so much for writing essays about scientific advances, inventions, and discoveries which still affect the world today. The entries were diverse, fascinating, and incredibly well written. We’re only sorry we couldn’t have acknowledged more of them.

The winner of the Trinity Term Competition is:

Zero: The Revolutionary Invention of Nothing – Luke Hayward, Year 12, King Edward VI School Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire

The runners-up are:

The Magic of Music – Catrin Herrenden-Harker, Year 10, Kings Monkton, Wales

Radio Waves – Obsolete or as Relevant as Ever? – Samuel Hughes, Year 12, Cardiff High School, Cardiff

Vaccines – ‘It’s Just a Prick!’ – Isabella Kwiecinski, Year 13, Lady Margaret School, London

The Invention Giving Women Control – Polly Painter, Year 12, Millfield School, Somerset

The Haber Process: A Simple Discovery that Changed the World – Mukhtar Quraishi, Year 12, Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Lancashire

How the Discovery of Penicillin has Influenced Modern Medicine – Christen Rayner, Year 12, St Anthony’s & St Aidan’s Sixth Form, Tyne and Wear

To Pull or Not To Pull: The Question of Forceps – India Thomas, Year 12, Monk’s Walk School, Hertfordshire

Can a Camera Capture Your Soul? – Cadence Webley, Year 11, St Georges College Weybridge, Surrey

The Immortal Cells – Hiu Yu Wong, Year 12, The King’s School, Kent

Congratulations to all of you and thank you for your entries. Luke will receive a £50 Amazon voucher and his essay will be published in our print magazine, as well as on our website. All the runners-up essays will also be published on our website.

This competition was kindly sponsored by Oxplore: a digital outreach portal from Oxford University. As the ‘Home of Big Questions’ it aims to engage those from 11 to 18 years with debates and ideas that go beyond what is covered in the classroom. Big questions tackle complex ideas across a wide range of subjects and draw on the latest research undertaken at Oxford. Oxplore aims to realise aspirations, promote broader thinking and stimulate intellectual curiosity.

Our judges were:

Joanna Bagniewska

Dr Joanna Bagniewska leads a double life of a zoologist and a science communicator. She completed a DPhil in Zoology, then lectured universities in Nottingham Trent University and the University of Reading. In parallel, she developed her passion for science through a range of outreach activities. Joanna currently splits her time between two roles: Senior Lecturer at Brunel University London, and Communications and Public Engagement Officer at the University of Oxford. In her spare time, she is a freelance popular science writer, presenter and communications coach. 

Lee MacDonald

Dr Lee Macdonald served as Research Facilitator at the History of Science Museum, University of Oxford, from 2016 to 2020. He also taught history of science to undergraduate and graduate students at Oxford. In 2020 he starts a two-year Research Fellowship with Royal Museums Greenwich, researching the history of Greenwich Observatory in the 1900-1950 period. He is the author of the book “Kew Observatory and the Evolution of Victorian Science, 1840-1910”, published in 2018 by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Emile Roberts

Emile Roberts studied Biochemistry at University of Oxford (2015-2019), he stayed in Oxford to pursue at PhD at the Dunn School of Pathology. His research in focussed on events during cell division, the fundamental basis for growth and development of an organism. He has keen appreciation of a number of scientific inventions and advancements, including the microscope he uses to study his cells.

Phoebe Ashley-Norman

Phoebe Ashley-Norman is a Masters’ student of Biochemistry at Oxford University. She is currently undertaking research into mammalian mitosis but is passionate about science communication. She is the Schools’ Competition Co-ordinator and enjoys engaging with students about their essay ideas and scientific ambitions. She writes about science and the cross-curricular presentation of science for OxSci and beyond.

We would also like to thank Jacqueline Gill for her help in the shortlisting process. Jacqueline is the creator of this competition, and we remain extremely grateful for all her guidance. 

Any questions about the current competition, please contact: [email protected].

If your school, sixth form or college would like to subscribe to The Oxford Scientist, please contact [email protected]