A Level Biology Live

P1000836 (1)On 8th December Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth A-level biologists, mentored by Mr Clapp and Dr Jones, went on a trip to Friends House in London to take part in “A Level Biology Live” and hear four famous scientists speak.

When the event started the audience was greeted by the organiser, and after that, the first lecturer, Dr Adam Hart, Ecologist and Entomologist, took to the stage. His talk was a brilliant beginning, as he spoke about one of the broadest topics – the diversity of life on Earth, which he did in a peculiar manner: he used figures to compare estimated sizes of populations of organisms. For example, he compared the mass of all the microbes on Earth and the mass of all humans, using rice! Interestingly the mass of microbes, we discovered, was far bigger.

Following Dr Hart was one of top 100 scientists, Dr Hannah Critchlow, from the University of Cambridge. She presented a lecture called “Demystifying the Human Brain”. The talk included the history of scientific progress in Neurology, which led into the huge question of what consciousness is and how psychedelic drugs such as LSD could one day be used to treat disorders such as schizophrenia or depression.

The next lecturer was Dr Jenny Rohn, who researches viruses and bacteria. The excitement she had while telling us about her research was so catchy that no one in the audience glanced away even once. She also touched a lot on the huge problem of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which is a very serious issue, as we do not have a lot of antibiotics left to fight off hordes of resistant pathogens.

Everyone’s favourite lecturer was Professor Steve Jones, a geneticist from UCL. He, with a lot of enthusiasm, told the audience about the evolution of humans and how evolution changed its direction from increasing size and physical strength to increasing the amount of brain cells with every generation.  He also had some rather peculiar photographs of chimpanzees, which will be remembered forever by everyone who was in the audience.

In between the lectures, there were very useful examiner tips, which were especially handy for the Upper Sixth students taking A-level exams at the end of this year.

Overall, the trip was very successful, informative and very entertaining, and helped us to appreciate real life biology outside of the classroom.

Vladislav Zlatkin, Lower Sixth

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