A top performing South Cheshire College student linked up with some of the UK’s top engineers and scientists in the final of a prestigious national competition.

Louise Baddeley spent two days at the Big Bang Fair UK, the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for young people in the UK.

Her competition entry was a research report which she compiled after completing a Nuffield Research placement project at Kew Gardens in London last summer.

She was one of 200 young people chosen from 1,000 entries to exhibit her work at Big Bang which hosts the final of the Science and Engineering competition.

Louise was nominated for three different award categories in the final which included the National Science and Engineering prize, the Society of Biology award and the Crest Communication prize.

Although she just missed out on an overall winner’s prize, she received a medal for being selected as a Big Bang competition finalist and had a stand for two days at the fair which took place at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre.

The National Science and Engineering competition is open to all 11-18 year olds living in the UK and rewards students who have achieved excellence in a science, technology, engineering or maths project.

Louise spent four weeks at Kew Gardens learning from top science professionals and researchers last summer and compiled her research report on the topic of ‘characterising the fungi community in woodlands.’ 2 Kew Gardens is an internationally important botanical research and education institution which is responsible for the world’s largest collection of living plants.

She completed a mix of practical and research work during her placement which gave her the opportunity to focus on specific aspects of Science in more detail and compile written reports based on her findings.

Former St Thomas More High School pupil Louise is studying A-Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Geography at South Cheshire College.

Louise, 18, of Crewe, said: “Reaching the final of the Science and Engineering competition and attending the Big Bang fair was a great experience.

“The exhibition gave me the opportunity to network with other scientists and many were interested in the research I did while I was at Kew Gardens which was the focus of my exhibition.

“The event also gave me the opportunity to explore potential career options in the science field, particularly in the area of ecology.

“The Nuffield Research placement was also a wonderful experience and it was brilliant to be able to work with leading scientists in their specialist field.

“I was tasked with researching into a form of forest fungi and its ecology which was very interesting.

“I’d definitely encourage students to apply to take part in this placement scheme because it’s an opportunity not to be missed.”

Nuffield Research Placements (previously Nuffield Science Bursaries) provide over 1,000 students each year with the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

Research placements are administered at a regional level by a network of Nuffield co-ordinators and students receive cash to help fund their placements.

The placements are available across the UK in universities, commercial companies, voluntary organisations and research institutions and target students who don’t have a family history of going to university or who attend schools in less well off areas.

Louise was also one of the first South Cheshire College students to be selected for the Pembroke North programme which she completed in her first year at college.

She has also undertaken Extended Project Qualifications (EPQ) in her spare time which gave her the opportunity to explore and write about a specific topic in more detail.

Pembroke North is an intensive academic programme which focuses on improving access to competitive universities.

3 South Cheshire College is the Pembroke North hub and has a special room, similar to the study rooms at Pembroke College, where students can engage in reflective study or take part in mock university interviews.

South Cheshire College is also a specialist Centre for Science in partnership with Oxford University’s Corpus Christi College.

It gives students an insight into studying science at leading universities up and down the county.

Linda Buchanan, South Cheshire College Honours Programme co-ordinator, said: “Louise has done the College proud and it was a great achievement to be a finalist in the national competition at Big Bang which attracts thousands of entries from across the nation.

“Her Kew Gardens placement was a fantastic experience for her and gave her a huge insight into the specialist area of science that she wants to progress into.”

  • For more information about Science and Maths courses or the Honours and Raising Aspirations programmes at South Cheshire College, call 01270 654654 or visit www.scc.ac.uk