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Rising to the challenge: imagining a better future against the clock

From Harry Potter and major religions to global technology companies, QE pupil Yash Makwana covered them all in a speech – and in less than three minutes, too!

Selected from a strong field of Year 10 peers, Yash represented the School at the regional final of Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge – the world’s largest speaking competition for young people.

The brief was to deliver a speech of between 90 seconds and three minutes on a topic of his choice – the only stipulations were that it had to be something he was passionate about and it had to contain a positive message.

Yash chose ‘Imagination’ and how it can be used to advantage to create a more positive future. He said: “Whilst the School does encourage the use of imagination, there is a danger it can be limited by mark schemes and exam assessments.”

Working at QE towards his Higher Project Qualification – a stand-alone qualification involving individual study of a particular topic – had helped him obviate this risk, he said. “It has given me the freedom to research systems of government and why they work or don’t work. In particular, I have been able to imagine a ‘perfect’ government and understand to what extent it could be implemented and what its limitations might be in practice.”

Yash had not been involved in public-speaking before this competition and chose to deliver his talk without notes, retaining some talking points in his mind, so that his delivery would flow.

Oliver Gorman, an Extra-curricular Enrichment Tutor at QE, said: “Although he didn’t win, Yash certainly deserves plaudits for his speech and the confidence he showed in performing in front of a large crowd. He spoke brilliantly and represented himself and the School fantastically.”

Yash added: “I really enjoyed the competition. Some of the speeches were quite eye-opening.”

He touched on the importance of imagination in a number of realms including the impact fiction had on his childhood, particularly the Harry Potter series, and the benefits of escapism. He talked about the importance of imagination in the innovations of tech entrepreneurs and at global giants such as Tesla, Microsoft and Google. He also talked about major world religions: “Imagination in interpreting and retelling the stories has helped make them as big as they are,” he suggested.

He posed a question to his audience: ‘What can you do with your imagination?’. He hoped that this ‘take-away’ would encourage people to look at things in a new light, to see how fundamental imagination is in all their lives.

“The experience has really boosted my confidence in public-speaking, and I hope to do more of it in the future,” he said.

The event was organised by The Speakers’ Trust, sponsored by The Jack Petchey Foundation. The Foundation itself was set up by London entrepreneur Sir Jack Petchey specifically to inspire and motivate young people and give them a voice. Councillor Lachhya Gurung, Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Barnet (pictured) was among those who attended.

Hot-seating and sword-fighting as a troupe calls

Boys gained an invaluable fresh insight into their GCSE set English texts when a visiting theatre company staged two plays, along with innovative interactive workshops.

The Say Two Productions company performed Romeo and Juliet – a set text for Year 11 pupils – and J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, which Year 10 are currently studying.

Head of English Robert Hyland said: “The majority of time in class has been spent looking closely at the linguistic and thematic features of the texts in a purely literary context. It is really important for the boys to be able to appreciate how the literary foundation of the classroom translates into the dramatic sphere of performance if they are to maximize their understanding of the texts.”

In addition to performing the plays, the accompanying workshop programme involved hot-seating – where a character in a play is questioned about his or her background, behaviour and motivation.

“Ordinarily in a performance, the audience and actors are kept separate. On this occasion the workshops led by Say Two were innovative in the way the company really encouraged students to engage in the process of understanding how the page translated to the stage, and the theatrical purpose of Priestley’s and Shakespeare’s writing,” Mr Hyland added.

Jeshvin Jesudas, of Year 10, praised the interactive way in which An Inspector Calls was shown and the hot-seating, which, he said, “helped us to understand how the characters actually felt and gave us a greater and wider understanding of the play”.

The boys were also encouraged to speak out the dialogue from various scenes and to consider the relationship between the characters and how the characters perceived themselves.

For Romeo and Juliet, an interactive staging in costume of the Capulet Ball (Act 1, Scene 5) and of the sword fight between Romeo, Mercutio and Tybalt (Act 3, Scene 1) helped show Romeo’s progression through the text, proving popular with the boys.

Sajeev Karunakaran, of Year 11, said: “It was a very enjoyable performance that expanded my knowledge of the play. I enjoyed the open discussion on the key themes of the play, and the best parts were the interactive activities like the sword-fighting.”

The staging of both plays sought to engender greater insight into the key themes. “The aim was to aid students in their understanding of the set texts as dramatic texts, in addition to simply being academic texts to be studied as literature. Students can hugely benefit in their understanding of the plays if they understand the stagecraft and can anticipate the audience reaction,” added Mr Hyland.

Afterwards, several of the boys gave their views on Say Two’s visit:

  • Jai Patel, one of the Year 10 pupils who participated in the workshop for An Inspector Calls: “It was a very detailed insight into the actions and morals of the characters, showing text character development as the play progresses.”
  • Umer Saad Rahman, of Year 10: “It clearly showed the development of the characters and helped to improve my understanding. It was very interesting and interactive.”
  • Chakshu Chopra, of Year 10: “The performance was extremely engaging, and it portrayed many themes that we learned in class. Watching the performance helped me understand more and really brought the ideas and theories we learned to life.”
  • Dylan Domb, of Year 10, enjoyed seeing the twists and turns of the narrative happening right in front of him.
  • Jao-Yong Tsai, of Year 10, felt the production helped to show the recurring themes more clearly and to illustrate the deep ironies and contradicting views in the play.
  • Ansh Jassra, of Year 10: “I was able to achieve a greater understanding of the interactions between the characters, which, in turn, aided deeper analysis of the stage directions.”
  • Daniel Rodrigues, of Year 11, thought that the actors helped the audience further understand the plot and he enjoyed a very “immersive experience”.
  • Athiyan Chandramohan, of Year 11, felt the occasion was informative, helping him understand the themes of the play much better.
Leading lights of the charging brigade

Two QE boys are among the prizewinners in a national competition aimed at finding better designs for electric vehicle charging points.

Year 8’s Tharsan Nimalan won a prize in the seven–14 category, while Ashwin Sridhar, of Year 10, achieved success in the 14-–19 age group in the Eco-Innovators Competition run by the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

Their success came as the Government announced that a ban on selling new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars in the UK would be brought forward from 2040 to 2035 at the latest. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement as the country plans to host the annual United Nations climate change summit, COP 26, which is being held in Glasgow in the autumn.

The brief for the competition was to create a design for on-street electric vehicle (EV) charging points that were innovative, iconic and beautiful. At QE, entries were handled jointly by the Geography and Technology departments.

Geography teacher Nilisha Shah said: “I congratulate Tharsan and Ashwin on their success. As the Government’s announcement shows, universal use of electric vehicles is an idea whose time has clearly come, yet there is still much work to be done in making our cities ready. Innovative, creative thinking such as Tharsan’s and Ashwin’s is likely to prove essential if the UK is to get the infrastructure right.”

Tharsan went through a number of design ideas and drafts before settling on his submitted design, which was based upon a large tree. The trunk had a spiral staircase which users could walk up to reach lounge-style leisure facilities – perhaps a restaurant – at the top of the “tree”.

The intention behind this, he explained, was to help EV users pass the time whilst their vehicle charged and even make the charging point a desirable destination – thus overcoming the perceived drawback of electric vehicles that users would have nothing to do while re-charging. Tharsan wanted, in fact to make non-electric car users “jealous of the experience they could be having”.

His design involved the use of lightweight, more sustainable and recyclable metals and other materials, with green planting on the roof. Vehicles would be parked around the base for charging, with cables pulled down from the trunk and plugged in wherever the connection point is on a vehicle.

Ashwin designed a charging station with a “contemporary aesthetic” and a “self-maintaining garden to absorb pollution”. He envisaged a vertical garden some 3 metres high which would collect rainwater and self-irrigate, featuring green plants and mosses that are good at capturing carbon.

Ashwin envisaged targeting high-pollution areas in terms of locations for his charging station, which would also be designed to provide easy access.

Even before learning about the competition, Ashwin had already been thinking about charging point designs, having seen existing ones around London and thought that they could be made better. “They should be more than charging points,” he said, pointing out that ones created according to his designs would not only help “green” the urban landscape, but could usefully act as a source of information, for tourists, for example. Since so many charging points were going to be needed, it was important to get more functionality out of the space.

Skills, thrills and spills as QE hosts its first-ever senior robotics tournament

QE attracted a high-class field of some of the best and brightest robotics enthusiasts from London schools when it hosted its VEX EDR senior tournament.

Eight awards were on offer – the highest at any school-based regional competition this year – and all 20 teams were keen to pick up some silverware.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Robotics is a hugely popular extra-curricular activity at QE, with our boys enjoying national and international competition successes. We are therefore pleased to be able to give something back to school robotics by hosting tournaments here.”

Participants in the QE North Regional competition included the reigning national champions, St Olave’s Grammar School from Orpington, as well as Greig City Academy in Hornsey and The John Warner School in Hoddesdon.

QE entered four teams: HYBRID, comprising Year 12 pupils, and SYNAPSE, ECLIPSE and Technogear, whose team members are all in Year 10 and were thus the youngest competitors in this age group.

Head of Technology Michael Noonan said “Following on from the tremendous success of the IQ Regional event for junior teams which we hosted at the end of last term, there was excitement and anticipation aplenty in the Shearly Hall as the senior event got underway. Our teams were in confident mood and eager to prove their mettle on home ground.

“There was high drama from the very beginning when QE’s SYNAPSE team, which had been confident of putting in a strong performance, faced a setback when their robot failed the routine inspection by the very narrowest of margins. The team suddenly faced a major undertaking – rebuild the ‘bot’ whilst also trying to practise and prepare for the competition. Their gallant efforts meant that a newly constructed, but, as yet, untested, robot was ready in time for qualification, but it put them under a great deal of pressure,” said Mr Noonan.

It was an intensive day of preparation and competition. All the teams were extremely busy both with practising and with forging relationships with teams from other schools with a view to forming alliances at a later stage in the event. They also had to contend with the four circulating judges, who interviewed the participants for the Design, Excellence, Think, Judges’ and Build awards.

Toby Reisch, Systems Engineering Manager at Cummins Inc and the Design/Excellence Judge said: ““I was enormously impressed with the quality of the work from all of the teams as well as the clear dedication to the task. The use and understanding of many industry-standard processes was great to see coupled with extensive innovation and lateral thinking.”

And Mark Jones, also a Design/Excellence judge said “The standard of the design and build was very good, especially with those teams that are new to the VEX and VRC competitions. The teams were knowledgeable about their robots and the processes that they had been through.”

When the competition began in earnest, QE’s team HYBRID had some challenging initial games, achieving some tight wins. In their second qualification, match they signalled their intent, as well as their capabilities as an “offensive juggernaut”, in the Tower Takeover game, scoring an impressive 76 points, Mr Noonan reported. This put them on the radar of other strong teams, and despite narrow losses in two of their eight games, they remained a favourite to take a high-ranking position in their alliance selection later in the day.

For team SYNAPSE, the scale of the challenge of rebuilding and practising simultaneously proved too much, as they succumbed to more losses than wins. The School’s other two Year 10 teams performed valiantly; Technogear finished in eigth position in a highly competitive field, and ECLIPSE finished 13th.

The alliance selection was hotly anticipated, with all 20 teams having the opportunity to compete. Team Technogear profited from their eighth-ranked position to select their QE classmates, ECLIPSE, while Team SYNAPSE paired up with a team from Westminster, aiming to upset the odds in a preliminary quarter-final. As expected, team HYBRID was selected by the number one-ranked team, Control Freaks from The John Warner School (JWS). They went on to form what would prove to be an unbeatable alliance.

Drama unfolded throughout the elimination rounds, as lower ranked teams, ties and close calls for referees added great atmosphere and excitement to the occasion. As the semi-finals drew to a close, the formidable QE/JWS alliance had overcome all of their opponents with ease, winning all their eliminators by an average score of 44 points.

Team SYNAPSE’s alliance unfortunately could not overcome their first obstacle, losing out in a closely fought tie. However, it was the surprise package of the day – the all-QE alliance of the Year 10 teams, who reached the decider – narrowly beating an all-JWS alliance in the quarters, and a JWS/Olave’s alliance in the semis.

In the final round, the action started in an unexpected way, when the number one-ranked team changed their autonomous routine. This tactic proved crucial, as the scramble for cubes ended in a flurry of scoring, de-scoring and stacking of cubes in protected zones. Ultimately, the highly offensive tactics of the higher ranked alliance prevailed, with QE-JWS winning out with a score line of 65-20. The audience recognised the efforts of the teams in reaching the pinnacle of the competition, as did the judging panels.

Not for the first time this year, QE had both reigned victorious and lost the final in the same action! However, the audience recognised the efforts of the teams in reaching the pinnacle of the competition, as did the judging panels. Team Technogear were awarded the Design Award for the second time in four days, but the majority of the spoils went to Hybrid – winning the Teamwork, Skills and Excellence Awards. With only one competition left before the signature and National Championships, this event proved to be an invaluable exercise in building skills and experience for these teams at the highest stage.

“I have to thank my colleagues Sean Kelly, Shane Maheady, Gillian Deakin, Jonathan Leigh, Lydia Jowsey-Alexander and Liberty Kimber for their contribution in setting up and helping to run the event,” concluded Mr Noonan.

The competition came just days after QE’s teams had pitted their wits against some of the finest VEX EDR Teams in the country at the GCA Regional event. “The same teams took part against high-quality opposition from the powerhouses of south east schools robotics,” said Mr Noonan. After the early bouts, Queen Elizabeth’s teams were placed highest, with SYNAPSE ranked first and ECLIPSE ranked second. Team Technogear ranked right at the bottom at 15th. Year 10’s Heemy Kalam from team SYNAPSE selected the experienced St Olave’s School’s Download Complete Team – reigning national champions – to be their partners in the elimination matches.

“Team ECLIPSE were then faced with a conundrum: did they pair up with their next highest ranked team, or did they choose familiarity in team Technogear, and hoist them up from lowly 15th Position to be part of the second overall-ranked alliance?” said Mr Noonan. They chose their classmates.

“The QE/St Olave’s pairing quickly made light work of their competitors, whilst the all-QE alliance were desperately unlucky to be denied by a falling robot and then to miss out by a single point. SYNAPSE-Download Complete went on to win their semi-final by 12 points, with their final match proving to be their tightest in elimination; they won by 12 points.

“Great credit is due to their drivers and designers, as well as their programmers for an autonomous routine which proved effective throughout,” said Mr Noonan.

Technogear were crowned Design Award winners and Robot Skills Award winner, making QE robotics the winners of three out of four awards on offer on the day.

The teams were made up as follows:

  • HYBRID (Year 12): Devin Karia, Tanishq Mehta, James Tan, Daniel Radzik-Rahman, Rishi Amin and Deshraam Ganeshamoorthy,
  • SYNAPSE (Year 10): Bhunit Santhiramoulesan, Ashwin Sridar, Heemy Kalam, Jao-Yong Tsai, Chakshu Chopra, Vedaangh Rungta,
  • ECLIPSE (Year 10): Frank Zhang, Arjun Arunkumar, Jashwanth Parimi, Raghav Rajaganesh, Arya Bhatt, Akhil Walia,
  • Technogear (Year 10): Anubhav Rathore, Aditya Khanna, Dylan Domb, Yash Shah, Utkarsh Bhamidimarri, Anish Rana.


When the news just doesn’t add up: Mathematics lectures unpick the use and abuse of statistics

Ninety-nine Year 12 boys were entertained, amazed and inspired at a special series of lectures on the application of Mathematics.

Fifty of the sixth-formers went to one set of lectures, while the remaining 49 went on a later day to hear a second set. The Maths in Action lectures were organised by The Training Partnership (the UK’s leading provider of educational study days) at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster.

Assistant Head of Mathematics Wendy Fung said: “Each lecture was inspiring in its own way and has encouraged the boys to delve deeper into the topics they found most engaging. These lectures are a very good way of introducing branches of Mathematics and ways of mathematical thinking which are not covered as part of the A-level syllabus, and of showing the range of applications to which the subject can be applied.”

Both groups heard lectures on statistics. On the first day, Michael Blastland, creator of BBC Radio 4’s More or Less programme, spoke on Bad Stats: what they don’t tell you on the news. The second group heard from economist and journalist Tim Harford. He counselled that if used well, statistics can help people learn about the world and he emphasised the paramount importance of using statistics in a responsible way.

Pupil Sachin Sarin said: “Tim Harford’s thorough explanation of how statistical findings were being used by politicians and firms to manipulate the general public into believing certain ideologies allowed us to gain a deeper understanding as to how powerful statistics are when trying to persuade or argue a point. I learnt that statistics can often be cherry-picked and even distorted by these individuals to achieve their motive.”

Beker Shah enjoyed Michael Blastland’s talk, in which he similarly demonstrated “how manipulating data could serve a political agenda or purpose, as shown by the increase in cancer deaths and the increased pregnancy rate”.

Common to both days was a lecture by author and broadcaster Simon Singh on Fermat’s Last Theorem, which he began by introducing 17th century French mathematician Fermat and the concept of a mathematical proof. In Fermat’s spare time, he would find mathematical statements and see if he could prove whether they were true or not. Over time, mathematicians proved all of Fermat’s theorems except one, which hence became known as ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’. Simon took the audience through the inspiring story which culminated in its proof in 1993.

Simon Singh was, said Zidane Akbar, “a great speaker”, while Janujan Satchi added: “Learning about the story of [British mathematician] Andrew Wiles and how his perseverance led him to prove Fermat’s last theorem was really interesting.”

Cambridge mathematician Matthew Scroggs’ lecture on the Mathematics of Video Games impressed Charan Kumararuban, who said: “I was particularly amazed by his demonstration of using Mathematics in order to predict the shortest possible routes to complete a game of Pacman in the shortest possible time.”

Oxford University’s David Acheson brought some musical moments to the day with his talk, From Euclid to the Electric Guitar. Ayushman Mukherjee said: “I liked the humour, practical demonstrations and guitar solo!”

The other speakers were:

  • Sara Jabbari, from the University of Birmingham, on Fighting disease with Mathematics, who looked at how differential equations are used to understand antibiotic resistance, track the dynamics of bacterial infections and even develop new drugs to tackle disease.
  • Ed Southall, author of several books on geometry puzzles and a lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, who led a hands-on session on how problems could be solved in multiple ways. For example, he set students the task of cutting 2D and 3D shapes into pieces of equal area using only a set number of straight lines.
  • Award-winning teacher Jamie Frost on How to prepare for exams;
  • Jackie Bell, from Imperial College London on Maths in a Space Suit, in which she recounted her journey from Mathematics graduate, to particle physicist and finally to trainee astronaut.

Afterwards, pupil Manas Gaur reflected on the value of the day: “I enjoyed being able to link Mathematics to other fields and seeing how it connects with other subjects.”

Magical success for QE’s multilinguists

Five boys have been named as winners in a national languages competition – with three of them enjoying success in the contest for the second year in a row.

The five impressed judges with their entries for the European Day of Languages Competition, to which they were asked to submit an entry based on the theme, A Magical Trip. They were selected from among many hundreds of entries nationally.

Designed to encourage creativity, the annual competition allows entrants to submit work in any format of their choice, with the only stipulations being that it include a language other than English and that it be no larger than an A4 sheet of paper.

  • Year 9 pupil Darren Lee’s entry was in the form of an article for French newspaper Le Monde, complete with his own drawing.
  • Shyam Jayabal, of Year 9, produced a day-by-day account of a memorable week spent on holiday with friends in a caravan in Dorset.
  • Vineeth Rajan, of Year 11, wrote his submission in not one but two foreign languages – French and Hindi.
  • Anik Singh, of Year 7, took a whimsical look in German at the possibilities for a holiday.
  • Chakshu Chopra, of Year 10, was more abstract, writing in German about how life is the most magical of all trips.

For Chakshu, Darren and Vineeth it was a repeat performance, since they were also winners last year.

Nationally, foreign languages at school have been in decline, but QE remains committed to language-learning. All boys take at least one GCSE in French, German or Latin, and all three of these languages are available at A-level.

There are extra-curricular options in Mandarin, Spanish and Ancient Greek. Some boys also study other languages outside school and there are many QE pupils who are native speakers in languages besides English.

The QE winners’ certificates were accompanied by a letter signed by the organisers. Steve Fawkes, Chair of the Association of Language Learning North East and René Koglbauer, Executive Director of the North Leadership Centre and Director of Network for Languages North East, wrote: “Once again, judges were impressed by the creativity with which pupils and students addressed the theme, alongside the imaginative and sometimes powerful use of language, humour, thoughtfulness and accuracy.”

QE also gained its own certificate and was commended for both the number and the quality of its entries. The winning boys are pictured above, accompanied by Languages teacher Rosie Hall.

New magazine showcases “creativity flooding the halls of QE”

QE’s has a new literary magazine, The Arabella, showcasing the writing and artistic talents of the boys.

After putting out a call for submissions, an editorial team drawn from pupils across the year groups met on Tuesday lunchtimes to decide which of the many contributions they would include.

The 18-page launch issue, which has been published both as hard copies and digitally on the School’s internal eQE web portal, features prose and poetry, as well as art, contributed by boys from Year 7 to Year 13. The artwork shown here, right, is by Sai Sivakumar, of Year 9.

QE’s Head of Library Services, Surya Bowyer, said: “The Arabella is a really important artistic outlet. All the boys involved – both those who submitted work and those on the editorial team – were able to showcase their creative talents. They should be immensely proud of the result: a brilliant inaugural issue.”

Mr Bowyer oversaw the editorial team, together with Clarissa Tan and Samantha White, interns from the University of Connecticut working at the School this term.

Editor-in-chief Josh Osman, of Year 13, wrote in his foreword of the “abundance of creativity flooding the halls of QE” and said the magazine would provide an additional platform for boys who wished their work to be seen. “For the first issue, we received an overwhelming number of fantastic submissions, with impressive themes ranging from memory to social equality,” he said.

Ms Tan said: “When envisioning a creative literary magazine, we hoped to engage our studious QE boys with their more creative sides. However, we soon discovered that The Arabella harvested further meaning: walk into any Tuesday meeting, and you would find infectious smiles and a constant stream of ideas; you would find great minds coming together, young men taking initiative to build something that mattered.”

Ms White added that she was proud to have worked on the project and excited to see how the magazine would evolve.

“Students should keep their eyes peeled next term for news about how to get involved in issue 2 of the magazine,” said Mr Bowyer.

The magazine is named after Arabella Stuart, a noblewoman with connections to the School’s early history, who died a tragic death in the Tower of London.

As a cousin of James I (James VI of Scotland), a niece of Mary Queen of Scots and a distant cousin of Elizabeth I, she had a strong claim to the English throne. When, instead of her, James became King of England in 1603, she was initially well received at his court but then, in 1610, incurred the king’s wrath by secretly marrying William Seymour, who himself had a distant claim to the throne.

Placed under house arrest and committed to the care of the Bishop of Durham, she in fact fell ill en route to the north and spent some months in Barnet at the home of Thomas Conyers, a governor of the School, while Rev Matthais Milward, also a governor and subsequently Master of the School, attended to her spiritual needs. She attempted to escape to France dressed as a man, but was captured and imprisoned in the Tower. Falling ill and refusing medical treatment, she died there in 1615, aged just 39.

QE wins big: ambitious plan to protect London from floods takes first prize in major engineering competition

Queen Elizabeth’s School has taken the main prize in the Institution of Civil Engineers’ #ICanEngineer competition at the first attempt.

One team were crowned the overall winners, while a second won the Sustainability Award, which means that in its first year of entry, QE secured half of the four prizes available in a competition organised by one of the most pre-eminent engineering organisations in the world.

Congratulating the finalists, ICE London Director Jonathan Baggs said: “The #ICanEngineer Competition has shown that our schools are full of budding engineers and innovators.

“This year’s competition looked at improving London’s reliance against the effects of climate change to stop future flooding – which has such a wide scope. I’ve been really impressed with the approach the students took to consider all the possibilities in great detail. Every group should be incredibly proud of themselves. I hope that these students now see the creative and practical applications of engineering to solve some of the biggest challenges in society.”

QE Teacher of Technology Shane Maheady said: “This competition was an exciting challenge and an experience which will certainly aid our students in the future. We were very keen for them to enter because it offered them the opportunity to design a solution to a real-world problem.”

Now in its fourth year, the #ICanEngineer competition, organised by the ICE London Graduates and Students committee, has continued to grow. This year, more than 50 pupils competed from schools across the London boroughs.

The award-winners were presented with their prizes at a special event held at the central London offices of Jacobs, the international engineering group. As part of a day of activities, the finalists participated in bridge and dome-building workshops inspired by the views along the River Thames.

“The event was extremely well organised and enjoyable to attend. We’ll certainly be entering this competition again next year,” added Mr Maheady.

Among those the boys and their teachers met at Jacobs’ offices was Old Elizabethan Karan Dewnani (2006–2013), who works for Jacobs as a Civil Engineer in the rail industry and who, as a STEM Ambassador, was supporting the competition organisers on the day.

“Personally, I was very impressed with their submissions,” said Karan. “I would like to pass on my congratulations to everyone involved, especially as QE won both the sustainability prize as well as the overall competition. I look forward to seeing the trophy in the School the next time I’m around.”

The dual flood defence and water storage scheme designed by Arya Bhatt, Heemy Kalam, Dylan Domb and Ashwin Sridhar took the main prize. Named ProWater Defence System, the scheme took into consideration existing infrastructure and the current multiple uses of the River Thames. The team used digital technologies such as computer-aided design (CAD). They also produced a demonstration video to show how the scheme could work.

The Sustainability Prize went to another creative QE project, The Thames Floodplain Protection Plan. This was designed by Jashwanth Parimi, Amogh Bhartia, Utkarsh Bhamidimarri and Siddarth Jana. Their design harnessed energy from the water to generate a renewable alternative power source. The team created a website and two videos explaining the details of the plan, as well as one for a public audience explaining why it is needed.

All those in the final also received a ‘goody bag’ from the ICE and its competition supporters; Arup, Jacobs, WSP and Thames Water.

QE teams triumphant as School hosts its first robotics tournament

Queen Elizabeth’s School hosted its first-ever inter-school VEX IQ robotics event – and the QE teams took half the prizes awarded.

One QE team took joint first place with a team from The Henrietta Barnett School in the regional tournament’s teamwork finals – and thus secured early qualification for the national finals – while another two were joint second out of the 28 teams from eight north London schools taking part.

QE’s Head of Technology, Michael Noonan, said the event had been acclaimed by visitors as a “roaring success”, with the “action-packed finale of the teamwork competition proving to be the cherry on top”. One distinguished visitor on the day – Stephen Sadler, VEX mentor at East Barnet School and a VEX World Hall of fame member – had his own word of encouragement for the QE organisers: “Great show and the place was buzzing – well done!”

For the past two years, QE teams have not only achieved national success, but have also progressed to the world VEX IQ finals in the US.

Mr Noonan said: “The teams of Queen Elizabeth’s competed well in this regional round and can hopefully take what they have learned from this competition to further their claims to national qualification and regional success.”

The QE-hosted tournament involved a full day of robotics challenges, beginning with set-up and team inspections, followed by the two-hour skills competition.

After that, it was time for the teamwork competition, in which two teams are required to work together, often, but not always, with teams from other schools. Teamwork qualification matches took place either side of lunch. The final hour was devoted to the teamwork finals and the announcement of the day’s awards.

“The real drama of the day came in the teamwork finals,” said Mr Noonan. With many of the teams, including QE’s Silicon Vortex, Cyber Storm and Hypercharg, performing at a high standard, there was a danger of deadlock developing, he said.

However, a combined team from Greig City Academy and The Henrietta Barnett School broke through “scoring an excellent 108 – at the time equalling the national teamwork high score”.

“This gave the all-QE combination of Gyrofusion and Gearsquad (already ranked as the second overall alliance) the tall task of breaking the national record in order to advance as the overall first ranked alliance. High drama followed, as a packed crowd of over 200 seated in the ‘bleachers’ voiced healthy support for the home finalist. As the robots came to rest, it was clear that a new high score may have been achieved – and a huge roar erupted from the stand. Judges, referees and volunteers checked scores carefully, and when the new UK record of 111 flashed up on the screen, the home crowd was delirious!

“However, the drama was not yet over, because the overall first-ranked alliance of QE’s Hyperdrive and HBS’s Rampage (also the current number 1-ranked team in the UK in the skills category) had to have their say. After some early setbacks in the match, some highly skilled driving from the respective ‘closing’ drivers saw a flurry of late activity, and it looked as though a strong final score was in the offing. One could hear a pin drop as audience members tried to work out if this had eclipsed the mighty 111 national record set just before – and so it proved, as Queen Elizabeth’s and HBS had combined to equal the national record and thus tie the overall competition!

“What followed was a spectacle so rare that it was not seen for the entirety of last season at IQ – a teamwork tiebreaker to decide the champion! The idea behind the tiebreaker is to set the same score, but to do it faster, as time left over can often be the deciding factor in determining the overall champion.

“First up went the all-QE team. In the rush to set a faster high score, QE’s double act were cruelly denied by a falling game element, losing them 20 points and leaving their final score at 96.”

“This made their tiebreaker opponents’ task a simple procession to victory: accordingly, they played it safe and simply did what was required to score 100 points, and in doing so won the tie-breaker and the overall tournament.”

“Our tournament champions, Hyperdrive, were ecstatic in victory, but also aware that this was not the end of the road for them: they know that more improvement is required to achieve highly on a national scale.

“There was some consolation for Gearsquad after their defeat in the tiebreak, since they came away with the Design award for their meticulous design notebook and attention to detail in the engineering process.

“Another award winner on the day was the newly-formed Year 8 team of Cyber Storm, for the innovative way they programmed their robot.

“Great applause rang out to encourage them, with the audience knowing that winning this award at such a young age when the competition was so tough was no mean feat,” Mr Noonan concluded.

The tournament awards went to the following teams (with their schools listed in brackets):

  • Amaze Award (VIQC), GCA Gearers (Greig City Academy)
  • Build Award (VIQC), MTS Terrorbytes (Merchant Taylors’)
  • Design Award (VIQC), Gear Squad (Queen Elizabeth’s)
  • Teamwork Champion Award (VIQC), HBS Rampage (Henrietta Barnett)
  • Teamwork Champion Award (VIQC), Hyperdrive (Queen Elizabeth’s)
  • Teamwork 2nd Place Award (VIQC), GyroFusion (Queen Elizabeth’s)
  • Teamwork 2nd Place Award (VIQC), Gear Squad (Queen Elizabeth’s)
  • Robot Skills Champion Award (VIQC), HBS Rampage (Henrietta Barnett)
  • Judges Award (VIQC), HBS Rampage (Henrietta Barnett)
  • Think Award (VIQC), Cyber Storm, (Queen Elizabeth’s).

The QE teams were:

Gearsquad, Year 9: Niyam Shah; Jai Akilesh Kaza Venkata; Nathan Woodcock; Darren Lee
Dipesh Dhavala
Hyperdrive, Year 9: Soumil Sahjpall; Aarush Verma; Maxwell Johnson; Adarsh Aggarwal;
Vedant Shah
Silicon Vortex, Year 8: Saim Khan; Aadish Praveen; David Wang; Ayaad Salahuddin; Samarth Deshpande
Cyber Storm, Year 8: Joel Swedensky; Sayan Patel; Hadi Al-Esia; Rayan Nadeem; Shreyas Mone
Hypercharg, Year 8: Pavan Kovuri; Shreyaas Sandeep; Chanul Athukoralage; Muhammad Shah; Chanakya Seetharam
Gyrofusion, Year 9; Yash Narain; Ashish Yeruva; Shivam Singh; Varun Srirambhatla; Vignesh Rajiv.





Voice of the pupils: Labour triumph in QE’s mock vote

A mock General Election at QE has yielded a result that is starkly different to this week’s national poll.

With each of the School’s 56 forms deemed a constituency and all boys eligible to vote, Labour emerged from the QE election as the largest single party, winning 18 seats, yet it fell well short of the 29 seats needed for an overall majority.

Following discussions, the Green Party – which came in third place, with 10 seats, behind the Conservatives, on 13 – entered a formal coalition, allowing Labour to form a minority administration, with further support from the Liberal Democrats agreed on a ‘confidence and supply’ basis.

The fifth party taking part – the Brexit Party – gained 5 seats, with 10% of the vote, in contrast to the actual General Election, in which the party failed to take a single constituency.

Voter turnout was more than 20% higher than in Thursday’s national vote: 88%, or 1,116, boys voted.

There was particular excitement in three forms where the results were tied. The winners of these seats were decided by the toss of a coin between the two tied parties. The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats each won one seat in this way.

Headmaster Neil Enright, in his capacity as Chief Returning Officer, declared the results.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, each of the five parties taking part reviewed the full manifestos produced by their respective parties in the General Election and picked out five key pledges for the QE campaign. These were then arranged on posters that were displayed at the School.

A lunchtime hustings was held earlier this month in the Main School Hall at which boys had the opportunity to question the five candidates, who were (pictured left-right): Year 9’s Ugan Pretheshan (Brexit); Year 11’s Ethan John (Conservative); Year 13’s Haider Jabir (Green); Year 12’s Eeshan Banerjee (Labour) and Year 11’s Sultan Khokhar (Lib Dem). The debate was chaired by Politics teacher Liam Hargadon – billed as QE’s answer to Andrew Neil – although since all the candidates turned up for the event, no ice sculptures were used!