As the sun beat down, water fell and a fish eagle started its morning chorus... We had arrived in Zambia and were enjoying the majesty of Victoria Falls.
The long awaited day of chemistry had arrived. I stood gathered outside the minibus with nothing but my lust for science and some jam sandwiches in my bag. The coach trip was long but scenic, with lush British countryside and a few hamlets along the way.
We pulled up at the school. It looked like something off a fantasy novel, like that Harry Potter one I picked up at Waterstones. We rolled up the long drive, every one of us dwarfed by the large football and rugby pitches. We managed to catch a glimpse of the school building; it was grand and old fashioned, with a gigantic wooden door. After 10 minutes of getting lost we had managed to crawl into a parking space and disembark our vehicle. Everyone mustered in the car park and watched in awe as five tennis courts came into view. I started to wonder whether my jam sandwiches were any match for the cooked lobster that they may serve at this school. We were led into a glass hall where we were given badges with our names on. I looked at my badge and realised that they had spelt my name wrong! Now at this point I had already realised that I spell my name absurdly and I carried on unaffected. We were shuffled from courtyard to courtyard and through a library until we eventually reached the theatre, where the lecture would take place. We then sat down in the upper rows.
Our first lecture was about carbon structures. We were taught about the structures of carbon on a molecular level: How graphite is made up of carbon sheets whilst diamond is made of a more pyramidic structure. Afterwards, we were taught that people have broken down the graphite sheets into a single sheet, known as graphene (which won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics). Graphene is a sheet of interconnected hexagons of carbon atoms. By adding a few pentagons between the hexagons, this structure can be shaped into something with the same geometry as a football. This is called Buckminsterfullerene or a ‘Buckyball’ (named after the architect who first used these structures: Buckminster Fuller). We also learnt that this type of structure has been used for architecture all around the world. They were used in the construction of the Eden Project and Science World, Vancouver, plus many more.
After the lecture we were invited for a complimentary lunch, which we gobbled down before going exploring in the adjacent courtyard. Our next lecture was the ‘Science Behind Breaking Bad’.
Once again, we sat down in the upper rows of the theatre. I grabbed my trusty pencil and prized notepad and without warning we dived straight into the world of Breaking Bad. We discovered that methamphetamine was created by the Japanese in the late 1800s as a stimulant for soldiers. It was also used in the 1950s as a slimming treatment. We also learnt about:
After we had indulged ourselves with enough scientific knowledge to satisfy a small laboratory, we headed home.
For more on the chemistry of Breaking Bad, have a look at The Royal Society of Chemistry website
A group of Dane Court students, comprising both years 11 and 13, visited Middle Temple, London on the 22 September 2015 for an advisory talk with successful environmental law barrister Alex Booth. Departing promptly at 8am on Tuesday morning, flasks of warm tea in hand, we were fully prepared for the coach journey ahead that would take us ever-closer towards an enlightening day at Middle Temple; one that promised us an intriguing glimpse into the world of law and successfully endeavoured to teach us what it truly means to be a member of the bar.
After a journey rife with excitement and an air of ever-increasing anticipation, we finally arrived at the Inns of Court in which Mr. Booth practices. After a relaxing and informative walk around the gardens and grounds surrounding the various buildings in which the chambers were situated, we felt sufficiently refreshed and eager to learn more about the profession that so intrigued us. Upon entering the luxurious building a sense of awe was instilled in us, perhaps even coupled with a slight sense of intimidation in those of us unfamiliar with such grandeur. Even the cloakrooms in which we deposited our coats and bags upon arrival seemed pristine.
With anticipation, we followed Mr Booth into a traditional and welcoming space that provided the pleasant offer of an assortment of comfortable armchairs that presented an optimum view to absorb the informative talk that we were eager to receive. Alex Booth began by informing us of the positive and rewarding aspects of being a barrister, he went on to explain, however the workload that such a profession would encompass, highlighting both the effort that we would have to put in our education and after qualifying as a practicing barrister, and the paths which we would have to take to reach our goals.
He also gave us insight into some of the cases that he has undertaken and how to deal with emotional strain , particularly in relation to dealing with a client with whom you feel perhaps more hostile towards and the importance of giving everyone fair representation, therefore finding aspects of their case with which you can relate. However, importantly, he talked of the extreme exhilaration that comes from winning a case which is often preceded by a great deal of hard work.
The whole group walked away from the talk with significantly opened eyes as to how the justice system works and were given an insight into one of the more simple elements of life as a barrister by eating in the dining hall. This particular room appeared to harbour paintings on all walls which rather eerily followed us as we ate our hearty meals of steak and chips that were kindly provided for us as part of our tour.
With our stomachs sufficiently full and satisfied we were able to take a wander around the London Supreme Court, where we had the wonderful opportunity to take a glimpse inside some of the many empty courtrooms and experience the setting in which many barristers make their cases.
To finish off our trip we took a stroll through Covent Garden in small groups, taking the opportunity to look around quaint shops and market stalls and perhaps buy souvenirs of the experience. When the time to depart the city arrived, each and every student felt more knowledgeable about the profession of law and when stepping onto the coach we all felt the impression the trip had made upon us sink in and wondered as to what our future careers might hold.