News from The Kings of Wessex Academy

EPQ Presentations showcase students' star study skills

2nd October, 2018 by Jude Owens

Last Friday the gym at The Kings of Wessex Academy was transformed into a showcase of high level research when some Year 13 students presented the final stage of their EPQ.

The Extended Project Qualification is equivalent to half an A Level and is a research project that students can chose to embark upon when they are in Year 12 in the Summer Term and concludes the following September in Year 13. Students have the task of project managing their own research-based piece of work on a topic of their own choosing of up to 5,000 words under the watchful eye of a staff supervisor, which culminates in the presentation.

The students presented to staff and students from all year groups who were invited to watch and listen to their range of intriguing topics. The presentations are a critical part of the assessment process and the students all showed their extensive knowledge and research and enthusiasm on a broad range of intelligent and interesting topics. Students are marked on their project management skills as well as the project content.

Tom Baker looked at “Environmental impacts of the eruption of Yellowstone caldera” and is hoping to study Physical Geography at university and presented mind-blowing facts if the caldera were to erupt (it has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years) with the devastating prospect of another Ice Age. Combining Geography and Engineering Charlie Bradshaw looked at “To what extent will engineers be able to restore the Aral Sea?” a perhaps relatively unheard of sea between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. A manmade disaster with significant implications for man and wildlife when the Soviet Union attempted to use the water for cotton crops and ultimately changed the whole dimension and outlook of the river. A Structural Engineer in the making, Mason Parker researched “Why are bridges structured like they are?” and built his very own model made from 4mm wooden dowels that he completed in the wee hours that very morning!

To human interest and with his hopes of studying Psychotherapy, Samuel Bateman considered “To what extent is medicinal treatment more effective than psychotherapy in treating postnatal depression?” This was a sensitive topic with the sometimes unspoken misconception that motherhood is wonderful; when really it can also be a testing time. Also on a moving note Gabriela Page looked into “To what extent has society's attitude towards accepting mental health changed in the last 10 years?” Using books, online articles and speaking to CAMHs professionals Gabriela produced a documentary and concluded that whilst the profile of mental health has been raised – in part thanks to more open discussions, not least celebrities (and the younger Royals!). It is still the Cinderella of the national health service.

A topic of our times, Molly Ross presented on “Should the Government put a ban a single use plastic bottles?” and undertook a 30 day experiment with 20 water-loving family and friends during the heatwave to see if they could avoid buying plastic bottles and use one of the many now fancy designer reusable bottles. Only one thirsty participant succumbed, but that was when they were on a trip on a hot sunny day and could not access water. A fascinating fact from Molly’s research is that water from the tap is scientifically proven to be cleaner than in a plastic bottle due to tight regulations!

Up, up and away, with her interest in gaining her pilot’s license Abigail Brigham Curtis looked at “How important is manufacturing in the process of making and designing a special shape hot air balloon?” with some material to test that magically self-repairs in the event of a fall and tear. Abi has ambitions to follow in her father’s balloon footsteps who has worked with Richard Branson.

Keen musician Sam Kail-Dyke considered “To what extent does the use of the Western score in ethnomusicological transcriptions omit key details of the music and to what extent can these issues be resolved?” and came up with a suggested way that ethnic music can be transcribed by Westerners for Westerners whilst preserving their cultural individuality. Other well-researched projects included Anas Idris’s “To what extent does smoking have an increased risk of developing motor neurone disease?” and “How can psychology be used to reduce gang behaviour? by Joe Hancock. “Did VAR improve or ruin the World Cup?” by Callum Pitt and “Does drone technology have a negative effect on society?” and in the world of literature and media, “To what extent are our attitudes towards AI aligned with the dystopian gothic as shown through 20th and 21st Century film and literature?”

Executive Headteacher Gavin Ball said:

“These projects are exceptionally impressive and represent a very high standard of research that I believe is worthy of undergraduate study and I congratulate our students for their hard work and for their tenacious project management. An interesting day for the audience who all learned something.”