AAAS 2014 – Meeting Global Challenges: Discovery and Innovation
5th March 2014

Over February holiday, twenty three Sixth Form pupils from Oundle School headed to Chicago for an annual trip to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference.


The Mayor of Chicago himself opened the conference, with the AAAS President then taking to the floor to develop the main theme of how the convergence of science can address the major challenges that lie ahead, namely feeding the growing population on the planet, addressing future demand for energy and sustainability, and dealing with health problems of an ageing population.


The Conference Programme included talks on How Discovery and Innovation Can Meet Our Energy Challenge, Getting Beyond a Blind Date with Science, From Yeast Cells to Patient Neurons: A Powerful Discovery Platform for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases and Stretchy Electronics That Dissolve in Your Body. Pupils were then able to select further talks from some 100+ themed symposia on topics from Dark Matter to Human Psychology via Biology, Industrial Chemistry, Neuroscience and its link to Nanotechnology and Communication of Science. The main speakers hold chairs at universities and included a former U.S. Secretary of Energy, two Nobel Prize winners and actor Alan Alda (of MASH fame).


Trip leader, School Undermaster and Physics teacher, Anthony Burrows commented, “All the pupils found something of significant interest and took full advantage of the interesting range of talks.”


Lower Sixth former, Anne-Louise Westad (17) commented, “I thoroughly enjoyed being able to broaden my scientific knowledge outside the classroom in a mature and informative environment. It felt surreal to have so many resources in one location and the range of talks gave me the ability to discover new ideas from ‘The Suffocation of Marriage’ to ‘Non-Coding RNA in Development and Disease’ which gave me a whole new insight into scientific progress throughout the world.”


After the five day conference, the pupils enjoyed a variety of cultural activities, including a walking tour of Chicago and its striking architecture amidst the snow, a frozen Lake Michigan and the famous Millennium Park. Visits to FermiLab, Skydeck, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Art Institute of Chicago, a college basketball game, ice skating, a cinema trip and a scavenger hunt were also on the agenda!


Anthony concluded, “Throughout the conference, the pupils made the most of opportunities available to them by engaging in conversations with other attendees of their own age or presenters. Their enthusiasm for the science was most rewarding.”


Press contact:


Liz Dillarstone

Publicity and Press Relations Officer

Oundle School

01832 277267

07810 788458


Background Information on Oundle School


Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.


The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.


At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. Phase two of the SciTec vision is now underway, with enhanced Design Technology facilities and a new purpose-built Mathematics Department planned to link the STEM subjects both physically and philosophically. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion in 2015.


There are currently 1110 pupils are on roll at Oundle School, with 865 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11. 

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