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East Midlands teenagers win Pembroke and St. Catharine’s Colleges diary-writing competition


First prize goes jointly to Kelsey, a student at Bosworth Academy in Leicestershire, and Zara, who is studying at Campion School, Northamptonshire.

In her winning entry, Kelsey wrote: “Everything looked very grand and slightly intimidating at first, nevertheless I soon found out that everybody was very welcoming and you felt as though you belonged there rather quickly. 

“After taking part in the Masterclass, I would most certainly like to apply a university which has a standard of teaching which is close to or equivalent to The University of Cambridge’s high level of performance.  It has allowed me to see the possibilities that I could achieve if I attended somewhere as good as Cambridge.”

Zara’s entry focused on the educational side of the residential: “The trip to the Botanic Garden had significant links with my Geography GCSE syllabus,” she wrote. “We learned about the adaptations in arid and tropical environments.

“The Evening with Galileo and Physics Workshop were also brilliant. I found Galileo's work and determination incredibly fascinating as well as his spontaneity in hypotheses. The actor was energetic and enthusiastic and brought the entire room of us weary teenagers to life. In the Physics Workshop, I was introduced to the application of diffraction which elaborated upon my physics knowledge. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these activities.”

Five other entrants were highly commended. They are:-

  • Ben, from Danetre and Southbrook Learning Village. “Upon first hearing of my allocation for a place on the Masterclass, I was slightly worried about the idea of going to a university and stopping there for a few days. This worry was completely irrational! As soon as I entered the grounds the porter welcomed me with a huge smile and the university reps greeted the group with open arms. In each of the sessions we encountered facts that normally would not be brought up in normal curriculum activities. We were presented with the facts surrounding the topics and in depth explanations. This was both fun and educational, and personally I found it much better than normal school work!”
  • James, Redborne Upper School. “The science built on things I had learned in the GCSE curriculum, but I found that the activities stretched my way of thinking and gave me a wider understanding on how science is useful in everyday life.  Overall, I found the course useful, as not only did it give me a wider view of science and a better understanding of it at degree level, but it also helped me plan my subject choices for my future and how I should aim to get into a top university, such as Cambridge. Now after attending this unforgettable Masterclass I am determined.”
  • Maryam, from Harris Academy Bermondsey. “I learnt that the University of Cambridge is a welcoming and friendly place. It may seem intimidating but is packed with ordinary students that are kind and determined. The experience has increased my obsession with the University and has taught me that it is a place where you create lifelong friends and enjoy studying your favourite subjects.”
  • Violeta, from Copleston High School. “My favourite activity of the Masterclass was the lecture on the chemistry of water.  I found that the lecturer, Dr Ben Pilgrim adored his subject so much, just by the way he was delivering it and the way he presented it to me and got me involved with his experiments. His attitude towards the subject made me more focused and inspired to learn.”
  • Zainab, from Hamilton Community College. “You will never guess what came through the post today! I got chosen to attend the Easter Residential Science Masterclass Yay! Right now, I’m so delighted; I could jump around like an excited kangaroo. Just imagine all the wonderful things that I’ll be doing, I just can’t wait... This Masterclass really did turn out to be one of the best experiences in my life so far. I absolutely loved the talk on teenagers, it was very engaging and it was very intriguing to know that our brains shrink as we grow older.”

Schools Liaison Officer for Pembroke and St. Catharine’s Colleges, Laura McGarty, said “The Easter Residential Science Masterclass is an opportunity for 90 young people to spend three days in the company of others who enjoy science as much as they do, to find out more about studying science at university, through lectures, practical work and group challenges, and to experience living in College.

“It was a real challenge to choose our diary competition winners. Every entry shows how intellectually inspiring and how enjoyable our students found their time in Cambridge.

“We thoroughly enjoyed our time with the participants, and would like to thank our student ambassadors for sharing their love of science and their experience of university life with the group.”

  • Pembroke and St. Catharine’s Colleges are linked to Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Suffolk and the London Borough of Southwark through the University of Cambridge Area Links Scheme. Their events are designed to raise aspirations and to encourage applications to Higher Education and to the University of Cambridge.

What’s it like to be a student at Cambridge? Every year Pembroke and St Catharine’s Colleges organise a three-day Easter Residential Science Masterclass for students from schools across East Anglia, the East Midlands and London. This year, for the first time, participants were invited to share their experiences in a diary-writing competition.

It was a real challenge to choose our diary competition winners. Every entry shows how intellectually inspiring and how enjoyable our students found their time in Cambridge.
Laura McGarty, Schools Liaison Officer for Pembroke and St. Catharine’s Colleges.

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