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Discovering my passion for science

Discovering my passion for science

By Saheefa Ishaq, a 13 year old student from Leicestershire who has a passion for science. Saheefa entered her CREST project into the National Science + Engineering Competition last year and won a place to attend the Broadcom Masters programme (part of Intel ISEF) in the USA. She is now a member of the CREST Youth Panel and is working hard to promote women in STEM wherever she can.

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As a young scientist, getting involved with CREST was probably one of the best choices I have ever made. The CREST Awards have not only helped me to grow and develop my skills, but also to pursue my desire to learn and share my knowledge with others.

From an early age, I have always had a passion for science, however in primary school we weren’t taught science that often, and extracurricular opportunities were rare. Being exposed to the variety of subjects in high school made me even more eager to try out everything and take any chance I could grab! When my science teacher introduced CREST to me, I decided to give it a go as the idea of researching any scientific topic I wanted was very exciting.

It started off as a simple interest in hygiene, especially in the kitchen. This led me to look at the science behind kitchen cleaners and comparing them on different stains. Presenting at my local and regional science fair was such good experience as it allowed me to strengthen my communication skills and to share my findings.

Saheefa showcasing her project at the Big Bang Fair in March 2013

I really enjoyed interacting with other students from different schools and winning the best Bronze project at both fairs gave me great confidence. This enthusiasm also helped me to prepare for the National Science + Engineering Competition (NSEC) at the Big Bang Fair in March.

Previously, when I visited the Big Bang I was AMAZED and truly inspired at the way organisations had worked together to create spectacular, engaging and memorable exhibits all in the name of science. The workshops ranged from welding chocolate, to extracting 'blood' with a syringe. It definitely opened my eyes to how diverse science can be.

After months of working on my project the time had finally come! All the students entering from my school stayed in a nearby hotel and we spent three days connecting with other students at the Excel Centre in London. Seeing the floods of people and the looks of admiration on their faces made it all worthwhile. Competing as a finalist was intense but still a huge honour. Despite two days of hard core judging, I enjoyed every second of it and the experience was truly overwhelming.
 
Winning second-best junior scientist and an international prize for a life-changing trip to America was totally unexpected. I was so fortunate to attend the international science fair in Phoenix, USA and getting the chance to mix with other international delegates for the Broadcom Masters Programme.

Participating in these once-in-a-lifetime activities, were not only a pleasure but a privilege that I will never forget. I was so grateful to everyone who had made this possible but it did not stop there. Before I knew it, I had been nominated and shortlisted for the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) Girl Award!

The awards ceremony, which was held at the Science Museum in London, was an incredible evening and I met so many people, including HRH the Princess Royal! Mixing with extremely talented women who had earned such great achievements in science and engineering was really inspiring.

Even though I was the youngest, everyone was really welcoming! Out of all the amazing girls in my category, I couldn't believe that I was chosen by the judges to win the award! The judges commented that one of the things that made me stand out apart from my age, was my achievements through CREST. I'm so fortunate that doing CREST has opened so many doors for my future and allowed me to express my desire to achieve.

I am really passionate about this subject, and I am eager to venture further on a career in science. I am not looking for awards, money or recognition. I want to make my life count. I want to use all the opportunities and resources I have been blessed with to make a difference. Therefore, I would strongly invite others who wish to explore science to use CREST as a platform to begin a journey in STEM.

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