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29/07/2014

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The views of an amateur scientist

The views of an amateur scientist

By Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh, who is currently studying double maths, physics, chemistry, philosophy and Italian at A-Level. Gianamar has recently completed his Gold CREST Award and has received a number of prizes at the National Science + Engineering Competition since 2012.

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Despite having been interested in science for a long time, my passion for physics and my drive to become an amateur scientist was kindled by an excellent science teacher in Year 9 at school who taught us about particle physics as an extra to our GCSE course. I also think Brian Cox's "Wonders of the Universe" series had a big impact on me as it was the first time when watching a science documentary that I could truly feel the enthusiasm communicated by the presenter.

Gianamar accepting the Institute of Physics prize at the National Science + Engineering Competition in March 2014Having started myself, a couple of years ago, as an “amateur scientist”, on top of my regular schoolwork, I have found it tremendously rewarding to adhere to my own variation of the scientific method – reading scientific papers, formulating hypotheses and then publishing my own small ideas on the topics which most interest me. Whilst I wouldn’t say that I have contributed to science, per se, performing and publishing my own research has helped me to learn the processes which professional academics follow on a daily basis, which hopefully I will follow too in the future.

On the other hand, some amateur scientists contribute overwhelmingly to the advancement of science. The late Sir Patrick Moore, for example, was responsible for the first highly accurate and detailed maps of the lunar surface despite being only an amateur.

Whilst I have and continue to enjoy my role as an amateur scientist, I have been somewhat hindered, as I can imagine other young amateur scientists have been, by the inherent irrationality in the secondary and sixth form education system. Unfortunately, due to the degree of importance placed on passing exams, schools have not encouraged amateur scientists to pursue their research interests, which from personal experience, has been detrimental to the scientific research which I have tried to perform.

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