by Mythiri Sutharson
Mythiri is a year ten pupil from Hertfordshire, who has completed her Bronze CREST Award. She is a member of the CREST Youth Panel, a select group of Award holders who provide advice and guidance to the scheme and its partners, giving a voice to young people in the development of the scheme. Here, she gives her perspective on the unexpected benefits of doing a CREST award.
How it began
It was a Tuesday lunchtime – the day I first heard about CREST. I was sitting in one of the Chemistry labs, listening to my teachers explaining about CREST. It fascinated me; but it still hadn’t really dawned on me what it was all about.
But by the following week I found my friend and I already starting to put together project ideas. We were really excited by this scheme, but it was deciding what project to choose. So we continued planning, unaware of the opportunities that CREST would bring.
You would not believe the crazy ideas that jumped in and out of our heads... “Nails!” (How were we going to test that?), “Chocolate?” (We would have eaten it anyway), “Fruit?” (Too healthy). We had too many ideas jumping around in our heads, but we were determined to find the right one, and we thought the idea that stood out the most was definitely hairspray so we began planning.
A hair-raising experience
The methods we had come up with were almost as ridiculous as some of our ideas. Hair would always be a difficult one to test, but how were we going to do it? Fake hair? Real hair? Let someone scream in pain as we pour chemicals over their head? We decided that the best way was to use real hair, ‘borrowed’ from the head of generous volunteers (our form: 8B). So we poured chemical after chemical on the donated hair, and read book after book on hair care products and the more we did, the more we realised that we were actually enjoying it. It wasn’t a lecture. Teachers weren’t sitting there telling us what to do; they just gave advice and were there to make sure we hadn’t burnt the labs.
And this was what made CREST really great – the freedom you have. You can choose any topic you want – something that really interests you and not GCSE or school related.
The next step
As soon as our project was finished, we finished filling in the Bronze profile sheet – a double page spread explaining everything to do with our project – and sent it off to the British Science Association.
We were awarded a gleaming Bronze CREST certificate, which was a great achievement after hours of hard work. We also took our project work to The Big Bang Eastern at Duxford in Cambridgeshire. There was a group of us that went to the fair from school. I still remember everyone frantically reciting their presentations on the minibus; it was quite frightening but definitely worth it when we got there.
We came back with a shiny blue certificate which said “CREST Runners up”, and a little blue box with a medal inside. We even got our faces in the Watford Observer and the honour of going to the finals of the National Science + Engineering Competition 2012 at the NEC in Birmingham.
The Big Bang Fair 2012
I must admit, the few months leading up to The Big Bang Fair were not easy. We completely transformed our project, with new experiments, research and theories. We were going to be presenting our project work at the Fair – as that is where the National Finals of the National Science + Engineering Competition are held.
The Competition was a fantastic experience and those few days there will definitely be ones I will treasure. At the Fair, I remember trying to save a mannequin with fake blood bursting from all sides, and the number of pens and stickers I collected there will last me for a life time! It was definitely an unforgettable experience, all thanks to the CREST Awards scheme.
I’m still studying at school and loving science. CREST has really taught me to appreciate science. Recently, I joined the CREST Youth Panel and because of it I am able to write this blog post and hopefully it will encourage more young people to take the opportunity to do a CREST Award, especially if you are already interested in science, technology, engineering or maths.
As well as helping create my own project, doing a CREST award has made me realise the importance of STEM subjects in our everyday lives. I am currently in Year 10, and would like to go to university; I am definitely leaning towards studying science.