Jasmine K-E (S5), Jack C (S6) and Henry J (S5) are winning finalists of the TechFest STEM Next competition

Reaching the final, they each had to submit a 5000 word essay to one of the three competition categories and carry out thorough research to answer specific questions set out by each category.

Jasmine won 2nd place in the Medicine and Life Sciences category of the competition and focused on vaccines. Through her essay, Jasmine outlined how vaccines work and examined their effectiveness. She also looked at what viruses still don’t have a vaccine and what biotechnologies are used in the absence of a vaccine. Jasmine shared: “Vaccination really fascinates me! The workings of the immune system have been something I’ve liked to look into during my free time so I thought it would be great to take that curiosity even further through conducting more thorough research on it. Immunology is of great interest to me and potentially a career path I could see myself going down in the far future.

“There’s also a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines floating around and I wanted to unlearn any of my biases or preconceived notions that I may have established.”

Mr Martin, Head of Biology, commented: “From teaching Jasmine Human Biology this year, I have been thoroughly impressed both with her interest in the life sciences and the skill set she has developed to help her communicate that interest on the page. Participating in competitions like TechFest outside the classroom serves both to aid her experience and showcase her talents to the wider community, so I am delighted that she has achieved such an impressive result.”

Choosing to enter the Technology and Computer Sciences category of the competition, Jack won 3rd place with his essay about quantum computing uncovering its potential impact on society. Jack said: "I entered the TechFest's STEM Next Essay Competition because it provided me with a great opportunity to explore the topical and deeply fascinating area of quantum computing, which I had very little prior knowledge of. I particularly enjoyed tracing the history of quantum computing through the decades, from its inception in the mid-1980s to cutting-edge research by the likes of Google and IBM, and seeing how rapidly this field has evolved. 

“Throughout the essay-writing process, I developed my ability to sift through academic papers, plan coherent arguments and express my ideas succinctly - skills which are invaluable for university life."

Winning 1st place in Technology and Computer Sciences, Henry highlighted: “I have had an interest in Cryptography and Cryptanalysis for a while, and taking part in TechFest’s STEM Next Essay Competition gave me a fantastic opportunity to both broaden my knowledge of the field and interview experts on the past and future of the area. We interact with cryptography every day - from establishing bank transfers to keeping internet traffic secure - so I found it fascinating to research the ongoing race between the people making and breaking codes, from ancient civilisations through to the present day.

“The project allowed me to appreciate mathematics in a different light, and also helped me communicate my ideas to a wider audience in an engaging way. I find mathematics to be an area of great elegance and beauty, and I hope to use the skills I have developed with my essay to inspire others to see the same.”

Mr Hay, Head of Computing Science added: “Henry was able to combine his skills in both maths and computing to look at cryptography and the issues surrounding it. I am really excited by how he is able to pursue both of these passions alongside beginning to be able to discuss the ethical issues around computing, cryptography and the application of the two.”

Mr Fogiel, Head of Mathematics summarised: “Jasmine, Henry and Jack have demonstrated remarkable initiative in entering this competition. They have worked completely independently and earned an accolade on a National scale. The future of STEM is in great hands with pupils of this calibre!”

The pupils are among national finalists whose essays were judged by a panel of experts and results revealed at an online celebration hosted by Northsound1 host Lauren Mitchell. 

Each of the STEM Next essay categories had a first place prize of £200 worth of Amazon vouchers, second place prize of £100 vouchers and a third place prize of £50 of Amazon vouchers.