QE student wins top Science essay prize

A Year 11 pupil has taken first prize in a prestigious national science essay competition. Daniel Fernando was placed first in his section of the Royal Society of Science Union’s Science Challenge 2012 competition. Year 12 student, Movin Abeywickrema, also reached the final.

Both boys attended a special presentation at the House of Lords, where they met Lord (Robert) Winston (pictured with Daniel), who had made the final adjudication and who presented the prizes.

“The boys did exceptionally well, in what is a highly regarded and rigorous competition,” said Headmaster Neil Enright. “We are very proud of their achievement, which displays their excellence in both science and essay-writing.”

The competition, which attracted hundreds of entrants from across the UK, was split into two categories – one for undergraduates and one for schools. Each category offered four essay prizes on different topics, with an overall winner chosen from the four.

The four essay topics were

  • Ethical issues in science today
  • The role of science journalism in the 21st Century
  • Providing sustainable food, energy and water
  • How politicians should make best use of science

The requirements for the essays were particularly stringent. The entrants had to write 800 words in the style of a newspaper article or feature, rather than as a scientific paper. It also had to be written in a style that was accessible to the general public, not just a scientific audience.

Daniel’s winning essay was on What scientific breakthrough should we focus on to provide sustainable food, energy and water for nine billion people on a planet of apparently finite natural resources, and why? He received £250 and an RCSU Schools' Science Challenge 2012 Winners' Trophy.""

Movin (pictured on the right) wrote on the five main ethical issues that face modern science and how they should be tackled.

At the final, the 24 finalists were given a tour of the House of Lords, followed by a reception in the Attlee Room, where they met: Lord Winston and the rest of the judging panel; Mark Henderson, Science Editor of The Times; Pallab Ghosh, Science Correspondent for the BBC and Peter Lacy, Managing Director, Sustainability Services – Europe, Middle East, Africa & Latin America, for competition sponsor Accenture.