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Mahfam, an A level student who is studying Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics at Greene’s College Oxford, recounts a memorable day at the Oxford Youth Chemistry Conference.

“On the 23rd of November, under the auspices of Wychwood School, the Oxford Youth Chemistry Conference unfolded, marking a day that would redefine my understanding of the scientific realm. As I embarked on this academic odyssey, little did I know that it would lead me beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone, propelling me into the fascinating world of astrophysics.

“The conference’s theme this year was nothing short of stellar, and students like myself were tasked with presenting papers, posters, or talks. Choosing to delve into the intricate realms of astrophysics, I penned a paper titled “The Formation and Significance of Methyl Cation (CH₃⁺) in Young Stellar Disks: A Catalyst for Complex Carbon-Based Molecule Synthesis.” This marked a departure from my usual academic endeavors, requiring me to navigate the intricacies of high-level scientific discourse, a challenge I eagerly embraced.

“Guiding me through this uncharted territory was the esteemed Dr. Rowena Fletcher-Wood, whose wealth of experience became my compass in navigating the complexities of my chosen topic. As a prospective dentist, the field of astrophysics seemed light-years away from my usual purview. Nevertheless, the thrill of stepping outside my comfort zone was eclipsed only by the joy derived from the support and opportunities provided by my dedicated tutor at Greene’s.”

“The conference, which offers the opportunity for Key Stage 4 and 5 students to research and present a paper, poster, or talk, was on the theme “Out of this World” and featured topics from terraforming to red-shifting to biomarking and hydrothermal vents. My own specialty, zeolites, even got a mention for carbon capture and storage, purifying air to help astronauts survive on other worlds. 20 students spoke, eloquently and amusingly, and our 4 keynotes included a video message from first British astronaut and chemist, Helen Sharman. Well done to Mahfam for her contribution to the event!”

– Rowena Fletcher-Wood, Academic Manager of Science, Greene’s College Oxford

“Completing the paper felt like reaching a summit, but the true marvels awaited on the day of the conference. The event kicked off with an inspiring address by Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut, whose insights were a celestial prelude to the enlightening talks that followed. Prof Claire Vallance, Dr. Aayush Saxena, Ms. Alison Ahearne, and Mr. Jacob Elven, luminaries in the fields of physics and chemistry, unfolded a tapestry of knowledge, offering me a perspective hitherto unexplored.

Read Mahfam’s paper

“The student talks, each a beacon of brilliance, showcased the diverse array of research within our student community. Engaging with these presentations, I found myself immersed in discussions with my tutor, reinforcing the realisation that my paper was merely a prologue to the vast narrative of scientific exploration.

“Adding an exciting twist to the conference was the chance to jump into the Space Design Competition, the prospect of which got me genuinely thrilled. Collaborating with over 60 students from different backgrounds sounded like a dynamic experience. Although the competition hasn’t started yet, I can already sense the potential for a mix of ideas, bringing diverse perspectives together to strive for perfection. It’s shaping up to be an interesting venture that I’m eagerly looking forward to. 

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“This journey, orchestrated by Greene’s College and my supportive tutor, has not only expanded my scientific horizons but also instilled in me a newfound appreciation for the intricate dance of molecules in the cosmos. As I reflect on this transformative experience, I am grateful for the opportunity to gaze at the world through a lens I had not dared to look through before—a cosmic perspective that has forever altered my academic trajectory.”

About Greene’s

Greene’s College Oxford is an independent sixth form college with campuses located in the heart of Oxford, U.K. and in Lisbon & Estoril, Portugal. Our educational philosophy is based on one simple assumption: if students’ education is tailored to suit their unique qualities and needs, they are more likely to be successful. Study at Greene’s College Oxford blends small group or individual tutorials, dynamic feedback on learning, and one-to-one weekly Personal Tutoring sessions to ensure all students have personalised guidance.


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