The Youth Panel is a part of the British Science Association with around 25 young people with CREST awards aged between thirteen and nineteen. We act as a liaison between the BSA and young people and as ambassadors for various things, including - for some of us - the Wellcome Trust's national Crunch initiative, which educates people about the relationship between our food, our health and the safety of our environment. We'll be meeting a few times a year to discuss and debate things, and also attend events like the Big Bang Fair and British Science Festival.
So I went over to London on the 24th of October to attend our first official meeting of the 2015/16 year and had a great time. Because it was my first time navigating London on my own and only my second time there ever, I got lost and was late for the meeting, but eventually I got in and it was alright.
Met Floriane from Outbox!
When I arrived, we were in the middle of a session from Debating Matters, who teach people how to debate and give out information packs on various topics. We debated whether space exploration is a waste of money and time, whether animal testing is ever justified and some other topics I missed. To finish that session we gave them loads of ideas for future debates they could hold with other groups.
Met Imogen from Outbox!
I was really surprised and delighted when I noticed that here there were rarely any lulls; people had their hand up ready to talk all the time, so no one became that person who constantly asks questions or makes points. I've gone to plenty of events for high-achieving teenagers, but I'd never experienced this to such an extent. It was wonderful that everyone was so engaged.
We then had lunch and I got talking to lots of interesting people. It's kinda unfortunate that whenever I leave the country any conversation I have with people I meet inevitably turns to the differences between that country and Ireland and that country's history with Ireland, especially if I'm with English people. It's quite problematic. Anyway, these people were really cool and had awesome stories and perspectives. I've met so many new people this year with the most amazing experiences, it's brilliant.
After lunch, we did a session with someone from Telefonica where we were told to think of a problem in the world and figure out a way to alleviate or fix it with a budget of £300 (fun fact: I spent one day in London and I still keep saying "pounds" instead of "euro"). My group chose poverty because of course we couldn't choose an easier target, and were quite alarmed when we were told the budget. So we focused on urban poverty in the UK among old people and proposed using solar panels so they wouldn't have to pay electricity bills - one girl in the group had done her CREST award project on solar panels so she knew the details and how cheap they are. Installation would probably be a bigger problem and limit the reach of the £300, but still. Our presentation was the best even though it was pulled together in a panic in about thirty seconds, and the guy from 02 Think Big/Telefonica said it would inspire him to go out and buy solar panels right then. Ta.
To close out the day, we did a live webinar with Nora Maddock from the Wellcome Trust about their Crunch initiative, where we commented on and provided reactions to and suggestions for the schools programme. It was a really interesting and constructive discussion and Nora is really great. I need to email Nora to follow up on something, actually, but I've lost her email so hopefully the project organiser will send it to me soon. The Crunch initiative is looking for ambassadors so I'm hoping to get involved with that soon, although my location (not in the UK) might be an issue since it's a UK initiative. We shall see. Nora left us cool magazines and a little book from the Wellcome trust.