School News

London Research Trip 2015 Presentation Evening

The six winners of Birkdale’s London Research Trip competition presented their findings and conclusions at the end of last week.

This was the culmination of a research process which began in London back in July when the students spent two days studying in the capital’s libraries and archives, an opportunity they’d won by submitting the best of this year’s research proposals.  

Our annual Research Trip is a chance for academically gifted pupils to work independently on a project unrelated to exam syllabuses, simply following their curiosity. Our winners once again demonstrated just how strong a motivation ‘intellectual curiosity’, or learning for learning sake, can be…    

Based at the London School of Economics during the trip, Ben Cairns was looking at the problem of an economic North-South divide, tracing its development back to the Thatcher era. His incisive comments highlighted current inequalities across the country and analysed the initiatives that hope to challenge our present situation.

Killian Dockrell’s speech took us into a crucial, formative time in the history of Irish politics. Based at the British Library, Killian studied the response of the British legal system to civil and political disorder in Ireland during and after the Irish War of Independence. His erudite analysis considered the legitimacy of this response, asking far reaching questions about the limits of a government’s actions when its territory is under threat.

Again based at the British Library and with an opportunity to speak to a London expert in Child Psychology, Michelle Village explored the role of parent-infant attachment in brain development. Her detailed, knowledgeable presentation shattered that traditional distinction between nature and nurture in the development of personality, introducing the audience to epigenetics – the way genes are switched on by changes in the environment.

Our two S5 winners this year were Edmund Findlay and Ray Cheung. Again based at the British Library, and taking the opportunity to study several 18th Century manuscripts, Ed and Ray were comparing the influence of the Catholic and Protestant Churches on the music of the 17th and 18th Centuries. Their brilliantly researched presentation focused on the music of Vivaldi, Bach and Handel with sound recordings to illustrate the relationship between music and religious concept.

Why is the English language like it is? Why are some words spelt so oddly? Our final presentation from Sam Davis offered a surprising answer to these curious questions. Along with conversations with two London experts, Sam spent his time in the British Library studying the significance of the printing press in the evolution of the English language. His informative, entertaining presentation helped us understand the contribution of printers to the standardising of our language as well as illuminating some of the mysteries of English spelling.

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