Inspiring the next generation of scientists

We gathered over 120 Year 5 girls at the famous Royal Institution for our annual Junior Science Conference, held during British Science Week on 12th March 2024, for a day of discovery through explosive experiments and inspiring seminars.

The programme for our young scientists began with a special welcome from Katherine Mathieson, Director of the Royal Institution. This was followed by an array of activities:

Extract your own DNA in the L’Oreal Young Scientist Centre. This experiment took place in a lab in the basement of the building next door to Michael Faraday’s famous laboratory which has been preserved in their museum. The girls took a sample of their own DNA away with them in a necklace.

The Great Crash Test Challenge – the girls explored crumple zones before designing and building crash proof vehicles. These were then crash tested and filmed so that the crash could be watched in slow-mo and the results analysed.

Scientists in Action – a talk and Q & A with two young PhD students explaining their studies. This year saw Maya talking about immunology and killer T cells, and Jess talking about plastic pollution and the impact it has on manta rays.

A remarkable journey around the Royal Institute – the pupils went on a treasure hunt around this historic building, finding the answers to questions and discovering the significance of the science that has happened there in the past as well as today’s scientific research, and why it is so famous.

The grand finale of the day was a Spectacular Science Show delivered by two female members of the demonstration team, who were excellent role models astounding the students with the chaos of chemistry, the explosions, the suspense and the science behind it all. There was a wealth of audience participation and one of the demonstrations asked for a teacher to come forward… who then participated in a demonstration which culminated with the teacher being gunked in the interests of science and to great applause!  We live streamed the show back to all our Year 5s across the GDST family and partnership schools and it was great to be able to share the performance widely.

Our Junior girls showed great spirit and pertinent enquiry at a day designed to inspire the next generation of scientists and we are looking forward to next year’s Junior Science Conference in 2025.

Challenging stereotypes at the GDST

At the GDST, we encourage our students to immerse themselves in the subjects that interest them the most, free from gender-stereotyping. Our schools belong to a family providing a network where we make connections, share expertise and champion best practice. Our Junior Science Conference is just one of a programme of GDST-wide events where we introduce great minds from across the schools.