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News > Events > Science Triathlon 2024

Science Triathlon 2024

The event was organised by alumna, Charlotte Hutchinson (née Parker), who in 2021 returned to work at Hymers College
29 Feb 2024
Events
Gordon Prescott with alumnae, Gemma Stephenson and Sarah Lightowler
Gordon Prescott with alumnae, Gemma Stephenson and Sarah Lightowler

Hymers College recently hosted their inaugural Science Triathlon Competition in January (2024). The competition involved more than 50 students from schools across Hull and the East Riding, competing in practical challenges set by Hymers, for Year 10 pupils in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. It saw students take on real-world inspired challenges in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. In total, 11 schools competed in the Science Triathlon, and they were mentored by Hymers’ Sixth Form students throughout the competition.

The competition was organised by Charlotte Hutchinson (née Parker), who studied at Hymers College between 1995 and 2000, before returning to work at the school.  She has recently changed jobs, having worked for two years as the Biology Technician, she started her new role as Marketing and Admissions Assistant in 2024.

The Head approached me when I was still working as the Biology Technician and asked me if I’d be interested in taking on some outreach duties for the school. He was keen to see Hymers doing something in the area of Science for students at local schools. I liked the idea so was happy to oblige.

I began by doing market research with teachers from the local schools. I reached out to anyone who had the time and availability to speak to me, to find out what they would want in a science based event. The schools all had the same list of wants and needs. They all told me the same things were lacking in other events that were available, or not available. To fill those gaps, and fix those problems felt easy really. 

After my market research, I had now designed an event that was a competition - the schools would enter teams, they would complete a practical in each of the three sciences, and they would sit a written assessment individually. It would be pitched at a level to stretch and challenge the school’s most gifted and talented students, something the local teachers told me they struggled to find opportunities to do ‘in-house’ but they felt Hymers was well-placed to do. 

All I then needed was a name.  At school I was very academic, and not at all athletic! I would have loved to have competed in this science competition as a child, but there was never anything like it. It felt to me like everything was always sport related. I named it the ‘Science Triathlon’ because it’s the closest I will ever come to a triathlon! It also fitted because the students complete three practicals in three different sciences.

Now I had a competition and a name, I needed sponsorship, so I headed to see our Development Manager, Emily Pennack (OH 1989-95) who put me in contact with representatives from Croda, Cargill, Phillips 66 and Wood who all generously sponsored the event.

From here on, it all came together, as I got schools signed up and they turned up on the day and all really enjoyed it. I extended the original plan from one event into two, adding on the ‘Science Triathlon Celebration Ceremony’ where the students were able to come back to Hymers with their parents one evening for an award’s ceremony in the style of the Oscars, where we announced the winners of the competition’s prizes without the students knowing the winners in advance. The children were then able to take their parents for a tour of the science labs and demo the practicals they had completed on the Science Triathlon day.

The Celebration Ceremony was supported by Hull-based companies Wood and Cargill, Croda in Goole, and Phillips 66 in Immingham, with representatives from each of the companies announcing the award winners.

The representatives for Cargill were also Old Hymerians. Gemma Stephenson (née Stansfield), OH 1997-2004 and Sarah Lightowler, OH 1998-2008. Gemma is Cargill's Industry Relationship Specialist, while Sarah is their Business Development Manager.  Both were honoured and delighted to return to the school for the award ceremony, which gave them a chance to see their former science teacher and Head of Chemistry, Gordon Prescott again.

Cargill sponsored two prizes for the Hymers College Triathlon and were also invited to present these to winning students at the awards ceremony. It was a great honour to award the Cargill Team Award for Innovation and the Cargill Independent Award for Environmental Impact to the deserving winners! Hearing about the real world inspired challenges the students had completed was impressive and seeing potential future scientists in our local community was very exciting. Thank you Hymers College for organising such a great event.

Gemma Stephenson, OH 1997-2004

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