Sensational STEM success for Sutton Grammar School - Science week 10th - 19th March 2017

Once again, Sutton Grammar dazzles on the UK's STEM stage.  With five teams in the national finals of the Big Bang Competition (surely a record), a team in the Surrey Satro finals, two teams in the IET challenge, a team in the national finals of the UK Space Design competition and students completing the UKMT, the school certainly had a packed schedule.

First success went to Finlay Cuffe, winner of the Young Engineer for Britain award meaning Finlay will be representing the UK in engineering at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles.  Young Engineers, the organisation sponsoring the award, were extremely impressed by Finlay’s knowledge and enthusiasm.  Finlay scored the highest ever mark in the competition’s history.

Next prize went to Chris Kalogroulis.  Chris won the National Intermediate Engineering award for his product ‘Stackamals’.  The judges were hugely impressed by the creativity and professional manner with which Chris had made a marketable product.  In fact, Chris took many orders throughout the fair’s two days, including ones from the judges!  From concept to sales, Chris had it all.

Krtin Nithiyanandam needs little introduction in the world of student science.  He won the National Intermediate Science category with his research into methods to treat triple negative breast cancer.  Over the course of the fair, Krtin was judged six times.  It took that many conversations to convince the judges that Krtin was in fact the lead on this most technically detailed work.  Judging ended when a PhD student in cellular biology was simply blown away by Krtin’s knowledge. 

Both Krtin and Chris were chosen to be judged by a celebrity panel for the title of Young Scientist and Young Engineer of the year respectively.  It was slightly disappointing neither boys were chosen for this role but to my mind they are both number one in their field.

Closer to home, Mr Marsh took two teams to an IET STEM event hosted by Queen Mary’s College London.  Our year 7 and 8 teams placed 1st and 2nd.  Massive congratulations to all the participants.  Perhaps year 7s deserve a special mention for outshining their older SGS colleagues.  Well done to all.

Additional good news came for James Bayliss.  Attending the Big Bang fair in Birmingham as part of team ‘Phaeton’, James received an email explaining that he has been selected for the British Physics Olympiad training camp.  This sees the top 15 students nationally tackle fiendishly difficult Physics problems so that selectors are able to choose the top five pupils for the national team.  The international competition this year is held in Yogya, Indonesia.  James will be keen to attend but as a measure of his brilliance he will have to request some special consideration as he has also been chosen for the equivalent Chemistry training camp too.  It takes place at the same time!  Presumably, the organisers did not consider a pupil may be invited to both…. although one is in Oxford, the other Cambridge.  For the record, James plans to study Maths at Cambridge. 

Having reached the final of the Surrey Satro competition by winning their heat in late February, a year 9 team was taken by Dr Vines to ACS school Cobham for the last round of competition.  Terrible traffic hindered their preparation and the boys struggled to recover from a difficult start.  The device they were asked to make failed to act as requested and the boys did not perform as well as they will have wanted to.  Having had a brilliant time however, they will be back again next year.

Finally, the weekend saw the national finals of the UK Space Design Competition.  Last year, Sutton Grammar boys were part of this winning team and then successfully conquered all at the international finals held in Florida.  Outstanding stuff.

Not to be outdone, this year’s team, consisting of year 11 and 12 pupils, came in as newcomers and won the national final at their first attempt.  Amazing.  We find out shortly if SGS boys will be part of the national Space Design team.  It has to be a very strong possibility.

For completeness, it should be mentioned that I won a prize too.  Young Engineers saw fit to give me the Membership Leaders Award.  This was very flattering but STEM success as outlined above is an almighty team effort.  All the science staff contribute to enrichment activities with Mrs Taylor offering huge support with competition entries and readiness.  Special credit must also head towards the DT department and Mrs Andrews in particular.  Her support for Chris and Finlay throughout the years has been outstanding and their progress is in no small part built on her dedication.

A quite exceptional week and one the school community can be very proud of.