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AAAS 2014 Meeting Global Challenges: Discovery and Innovation

Published on isbi School News dated Monday 3rd of March 2014

Over February holiday, twenty three Sixth Form pupils from Oundle School headed to Chicago for an annual trip to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference.

The Mayor of Chicago himself opened the conference, with the AAAS President then taking to the floor to develop the main theme of how the convergence of science can address the major challenges that lie ahead, namely feeding the growing population on the planet, addressing future demand for energy and sustainability, and dealing with health problems of an ageing population.

The Conference Programme included talks on How Discovery and Innovation Can Meet Our Energy Challenge, Getting Beyond a Blind Date with Science, From Yeast Cells to Patient Neurons: A Powerful Discovery Platform for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases and Stretchy Electronics That Dissolve in Your Body. Pupils were then able to select further talks from some 100 themed symposia on topics from Dark Matter to Human Psychology via Biology, Industrial Chemistry, Neuroscience and its link to Nanotechnology and Communication of Science. The main speakers hold chairs at universities and included a former U.S. Secretary of Energy, two Nobel Prize winners and actor Alan Alda (of MASH fame).

Trip leader, School Undermaster and Physics teacher, Anthony Burrows commented, 'All the pupils found something of significant interest and took full advantage of the interesting range of talks.'

Lower Sixth former, Anne-Louise Westad (17) commented, 'I thoroughly enjoyed being able to broaden my scientific knowledge outside the classroom in a mature and informative environment. It felt surreal to have so many resources in one location and the range of talks gave me the ability to discover new ideas from 'The Suffocation of Marriage' to 'Non-Coding RNA in Development and Disease' which gave me a whole new insight into scientific progress throughout the world.'

After the five day conference, the pupils enjoyed a variety of cultural activities, including a walking tour of Chicago and its striking architecture amidst the snow, a frozen Lake Michigan and the famous Millennium Park. Visits to FermiLab, Skydeck, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Art Institute of Chicago, a college basketball game, ice skating, a cinema trip and a scavenger hunt were also on the agenda!

Anthony concluded, 'Throughout the conference, the pupils made the most of opportunities available to them by engaging in conversations with other attendees of their own age or presenters. Their enthusiasm for the science was most rewarding.'

AAAS 2014  Meeting Global Challenges: Discovery and Innovation - Photo 1
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