The University of Westminster hosted the 14th Annual Schools Science Conference in collaboration with Science4u on Wednesday 26 April 2017 at its Cavendish Campus in central London.

The 2017 theme was “Science for Transformation” chosen to reflect the growing development of new therapies making national headlines (e.g. genetically modified immune cells to treat cancers) that are transforming our approach to patient treatment. 

The conference was attended by 312 secondary school and further education college students (years 9-11) from 18 participating schools in the London Boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Enfield, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Merton and Wandsworth, Newham, Sutton, Waltham Forest, and Westminster. The event was staffed by over 100 volunteer scientists and healthcare professionals.

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Pupils gained hands-on experience on the day, Photo credit: Amy Louise Wolstenholme, 3rd year Photographic Arts student at the University of Westminster. 
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The day long programme introduced the multiple career opportunities in the many scientific fields, aiming to inspire students to study science by demonstrating the importance of science in health and everyday life and showcasing some of the exciting and rewarding careers open to those who study science.

The highlight of the day was the student presentation session where students showcased their school or science club projects, vying for the The Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine Don Henderson Trophy. The team from Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls from the London Borough of Ealing won the Trophy with their project which looked at the potential use of stem cells in treating disease through reviewing published materials on the subject.

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The winning team from the Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls in the London Borough of Ealing, Photo credit: Amy Louise Wolstenholme, 3rd year Photographic Arts student at the University of Westminster. 
The winning team from the Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls in the London Borough of Ealing, Photo credit: Amy Louise Wolstenholme, 3rd year Photographic Arts student at the University of Westminster. 
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On campus the attendees were treated to an interactive workshop by The Royal College of Pathologists, “Transforming Pathology”, which discussed current innovations transforming pathology and how pathologists are involved in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. A Teachers’ Developmental workshop was presented by the British Association of Science and the keynote speech was delivered by Professor Clare Elwell, Professor of Medical Physics at University College London. Professor Elwell presented “Shedding Light on the Human Brain” which showed how cutting edge innovations in physics and engineering are transforming how, when and where we can image the human brain.

Around 50 scientific organisations put on hands-on activities for the students, including UCLH, the London Ambulance Service, Public Health England, Great Ormond Street Hospital, and NHS Blood and Transplant. Academics and researchers from the University of Westminster discussed protein structural biochemistry, pathology, psychology, biomaterials, environmental forensics, bioinformatics and the science behind everyday living and behaviour with the young, budding scientists.

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Students at the 2017 Science4U event
Photo credit: Amy Louise Wolstenholme, 3rd year Photographic Arts student at the University of Westminster. 
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The conference was open to students of all abilities and endeavours to ensure that lower academic scoring and less privileged schools were in attendance. Of the 18 schools attending, at least six schools had more than 30 per cent of their students receiving free school meals and come from many different ethnicities. English is not the main language spoken at home for more than half of students attending.

Professor Annie Bligh, Dean Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Westminster said: "We are delighted to have hosted the 14th Annual Science4u Schools Day and to be collaborating with Science4u in promoting the many exciting opportunities for young people to become career scientists.

“The world has transformed radically since 1838, when the University of Westminster first started showcasing the technologies and educating the scientists, for careers that can improve the world we live in.

“A world in transformation is a challenging one, holding so many exciting opportunities for you. Please enjoy and make full use of your day and keep in touch,” she told participating students.

A Science4u spokesperson said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to collaborate again with the University of Westminster. This central location has fabulous facilities and has enabled us to accommodate more students than in previous years and run an expanded interactive stands section. In addition, the range of scientific careers on offer will be expanded. Finally, it enables the students, many for the first time, to see and experience a University atmosphere.”

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