Biologists clear hurdles to secure Olympiad medals

BIOLOGISTS from Priestley College picked up an impressive medal haul during the recent British Biology Olympiad.

Callum Owen, a former pupil at Sir Thomas Boteler CofE High School, won a gold medal meaning he finished in the top 6% of more than 7,500 students who took the test.

Ex-Cardinal Newman Catholic School pupil Matthew Peach collected silver, putting him in the top 10%, whilst Kirsty Mullaney and Cameron Naylor took home bronze.

Priestley’s Jack Griffiths was highly commended and Leah Hamblett also received a commendation.

“For me, the Biology Olympiad was a way to put into practice and revise what I have learnt in lessons. Getting a Gold Medal has given me the confidence to do well this year in my Biology exams,” said Callum, who is taking A-Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths.

Each year Priestley College gives those on its Biology A-Level course the chance to volunteer and take the Olympiad test.

It takes place outside of lessons in the form of a two-hour multiple-choice test.

Priestley tutor takes his film to Cannes

EVERY May the Cannes Film Festival attracts the greatest talents in the industry as some of the year’s major movie releases are seen for the first time.

This year Priestley College Media Tutor Thomas Houston and fellow Producer Dane Jones will be amongst those showing a film when they screen  ‘Now I Am Become Death’ to the festival on May 22.

“I don’t think we will be watching the film ourselves because this opportunity is going to give us access to people in the film industry,” said Thomas, who is from Golborne.

“We will be trying to meet distributers and financiers because I already have another idea for a movie that I’d like to pitch.”

Thomas and Dane’s film will be showcased in the Cannes Short Film Corner, a section of the festival dedicated to encouraging emerging talents.

“Inventive, often incredibly gifted, free and without constraints, shorts have forever carried high the values of Cannes,” said festival director Thierry Frémaux.

“Providing a space in which upcoming generations can emerge is essential and is also one of the very purposes of the festival.”

‘Now I Am Become Death’ is set in the year 2040 when the world has split into East and West and is at the height of a second cold war.

An impending oil crisis drives tensions between the two sides as both seek the upper hand. Western leaders stand divided over what course of action is best – war or appeasement.

Thomas wrote the script over two years ago and originally planned it is a stage play, but as the story evolved it became clear it was suited to a different medium.

Filming began in June 2015 and finished in early March 2017.

“Given all that is going on in the world right now it seems like a timely film,” said Thomas.

Olympian honours sports stars of the future

Casey and Jaz

OLYMPIAN and Priestley alumnus Rick Egington returned to college last week to honour the current crop of sports stars.

Rick, who has won both bronze and silver Olympic medals, presented Sports Man and Woman of the Year Awards to boxer Casey Brown and netballer Jaz Lowe.

Priestley’s Head of Sport Nigel Howells – who was Rick’s sport tutor when he attended the college 20 years ago – said it was a great honour to welcome back the Olympian.

“Many of our top athletes have aspirations of pursuing their chosen sports to a higher level so to be presented with an award by a former student who is now a successful Olympian is an incredible moment for them,” he said.

Casey, who was named Warrington Wolves’ U18s’ Man of Steel last year, and netballer Jaz were voted for by their fellow students.

Priestley’s Team of the Year was its footballers after a season of many highlights including winning the league and a semifinal appearance in the English Schoolboys FA Cup.

“In my 16 years at Priestley I think this is the strongest team that we have produced in any sport,” said Tutor Paul Hopper.

Olympian Rick Egington with Head of Sport Nigel Howells.

During the ceremony, awards were handed out to all Priestley’s regional, national and international stars.

Achievements were celebrated in sports as diverse as swimming and volleyball to martial arts and football.

Its female swim team had competed in the English Schools National Finals and swam in the Olympic pool in London while on court its volleyball team represented the North West in the AoC Championships.

Andrew Foster, from Elite Sport Development, presented Man and Woman of Steel honours to Joe Heaton and Jazz Thompson who had showed their mettle in a series of fitness tests carried out by the company, which aims to help athletes reach their potential.

Rick whose best results came in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics told students he’d needed to ask for directions after arriving on campus because it had developed so much since he attended.

He explained how at 16 he’d needed to show determination after underperforming in his GCSEs.

“Everyone at Priestley was very supportive and helped me at that time,” he said.

“It really is a pleasure to be back and I would like to say to you all that 20 years passes very quickly so my advice would be to enjoy every moment.”

Daresbury scientists deliver a masterclass

Kurtis Markie and Yi Chen Hock

SCIENTISTS of the future discovered more about the technologies behind 21st century particle accelerators at a world-renowned centre for excellence.

A-Level Physics students from Priestley College were among those who attended the Cockcroft Institute at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Daresbury Laboratory for the annual Particle Physics Masterclass.

When the students from the gathered colleges had their own knowledge tested, Priestley’s Kurtis Markie came top of the class.

“To have the Sci-Tech campus on our doorstep provides an unmissable opportunity for our students,” said Tutor Tory Mullineux.

“The laboratory has close links with CERN and works to push the cutting edge of particle accelerator technology so it is an inspiring place to be for the students.”

The masterclass programme included a history of the Daresbury Laboratory, a lecture on particle physics delivered by the University of Manchester, scientific exercises and demonstrations as well as a Virtual Reality interactive tour of the VELA particle accelerator.

Later students were quizzed on what they had learned with former Cardinal Newman pupil Kurtis, who studies Computing, Electronics and Physics at Priestley, scoring the highest mark.

He said: “I was able to understand much more about particle accelerators, a topic which isn’t vastly covered on my Physics A-Level course, giving me a great insight into the fantastic applications they’re used for.”

Former Bridgewater High pupil Yi Chen Hock, who studies Electronics, Further Maths, Physics and Music at college, finished third in the masterclass quiz.

In a further success she recently received a Gold Medal in an AS Physics Olympiad and goes through to the next stage where she will be up against young and brilliant minds from across the country.

“Getting the Gold Award in the Physics Olympiad and coming top three in the quiz has boosted my confidence in pursuing my career aspirations to become an engineer and get good enough grades for the universities I want to apply for,” said Yi Chen.

Road to discovery with Colas

Students Manesh Easwar and Seb Nawrocki with Colas chemist Paul Edwards.

A COMPANY that uses clever chemistry to help build the UK’s road infrastructure has shared some of its secrets with young chemists from Priestley College.

The team at Colas invited A-Level students into its factory to discover more about the chemistry it uses, how production lines operate and the best ways to ensure quality control in a laboratory.

“It was inspiring to see chemistry used in a real situation instead of just in theory,” said Jake Higgins, who studies A-Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics.

Former Bridgewater High School pupil Matthew Turton enjoyed discovering more about the innovation that happens on the site next door to Priestley College.

“The most interesting part of the trip for me was seeing how the labs worked,” said Matthew, who studies Chemistry, Further Maths and Physics.

“There was a lot of cool equipment that we got to see in use, which provided useful insight into what a normal working day would be like.”

Using clever chemistry Colas has developed sustainable products which can be applied through a variety of equipment to enable roads to be resurfaced and repainted faster and with less fuss.

It provides safe, innovative and sustainable solutions for the design, building and maintenance of transport infrastructure.

During their visit Priestley’s aspiring chemists found out more about the history of the award-winning company, which was founded in 1923.

Its team explained how a strong emphasis is placed on the importance of research and technical development at Colas, which is part of the world-leading International Colas Group.

Paul Cadel said it was one of the company’s aims to work with inspiring people – including the next generation of chemists.

“We possess the qualities in our people – their talent, passion and vision – to deliver excellence in everything we do,” he said.

“That is one of the reasons we think it is important to work with Priestley’s students because they are the next generation of scientists who could one day be making great discoveries themselves.”