It has been 21 years since the first science seminar, established by former King Edward VII school headmaster Julian Wilde, between Siebold Gymnasium, Gymnázium Boženy Nĕmcové and AKS Lytham. This year students and staff alike were excited and delighted to host our friends from Germany and the Czech Republic in Lytham St. Annes.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
If this is the case, the rich and full program offered by all schools over the years has never failed to impress. This year was no different, with a jam-packed program of science and culture, devised by Fiona Burnett and Chris Jessop, under the umbrella of ‘The science of our area.’
Although we took part in numerous, wonderful activities throughout the week, Czech student Teresa summed up the feelings of many when getting on the coach to leave, “My favourite memories are when we are all together; when we talk, when we dance and when we sing - learning from one another.”
Having arrived on Saturday, our guest pupils experienced their first full day in their host families on Sunday. Hosts of the Czech students took the opportunity to re-establish strong friendships, formed one year ago in Hradec Králové, whilst visiting the pleasure beach, eating and shopping. Hosts of the German students, new to the exchange, gathered in groups to get to know one another at ‘The Sandcastle.’ This meant that our planned icebreaker on Monday became a fun game rather than a necessary activity, such was the warmth already in the room.
Monday was a very busy day in Blackpool. Our timings, organised by Fiona Burnett, were perfect, allowing us to get to the top of The Tower before storm Ophelia closed the lifts for the day. We followed this with some dancing in the famous Tower Ballroom, a trip to the circus and Blackpool dungeons, rounding the day off with some traditional fish and chips and a windswept glance at the illuminations. A wonderful time was had by all, with students enjoying all aspects of the day.
Our unique coastline location, next to Fairhaven boating lake, provided the inspiration behind Tuesday’s steamboat challenge; where pupils built and raced two types of steamboat.
Czech pupil, Michaela, commented that it was her favourite scientific activity saying, “Even though we experienced some failures, and had many problems to overcome, it all ended really well.”
In the afternoon, prompted by the production of the world famous Blackpool Rock in the local area, we spent time studying the chemistry of sweets. The evening ended with a cinema night at AKS.
Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Course is one of our local landmarks and inspired our activities on Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday’s ‘Rocket… Science… Golf,’ proved particularly popular; whereby students had to propel golf balls using rockets to get as close as possible to two holes, 40m and 70m away from the ‘tee-off’ position. The group consisting of Marshall (English), Julian (German) and Jan (Czech) impressively landed their golf ball within 2m of the 70m hole.
German pupil, Emma, commented that Rocket Golf was her favourite activity as, “It was really fun and I nearly died of shame when we lost.”
In the afternoon, we took part in our St Anne’s murder mystery. Pupils had to solve clues, located around St Anne’s, to work out ‘who dunnit?’ whilst getting to know our local area a little better. Two groups, headed by Bel and Ben respectively, turned out to be the expert sleuths amongst the group.
On Thursday, we took advantage of the expertise of The Winterfloods during our fabulous day in the Lake District. It was one of Czech student’s Jan’s highlights, “Mr Winterflood was really interesting, speaking about the formation of the Lake District, and it’s volcanic past and the glaciers that shaped it.”
Initially, we took a ferry from Pooley Bridge to Glenridding. Mrs Winterflood then took us to Aira Force to show us this beautiful waterfall, set amongst ancient woodlands and landscaped glades.
Friday was our last full day together. We began by playing a golf competition at St Annes Mini Links course; the blustery, coastal links course provided both challenge and fun. Following this, we spent the afternoon preparing our final presentations. We were delighted to have Julian Wilde, one of the founders of the seminar, and Judith Denver, a previous participant, as guests of honour.
Julian commented that the presentations were, “The most enthusiastic he had seen.”
The day ended with the entire group enjoying the evening at ‘Beat Night’ at Ascent; an energetic and fun way to end the seminar. Afterwards, many of the pupils continued their celebrations at each other’s houses.
In between the seminar in the Czech Republic in 2016 and this year’s seminar, Emma, from Würzburg, has visited us in Lytham, Emily, from AKS, has visited Barbora in Hradec Králové and Phoebe from AKS re-visited Würzburg; these trips were all organised privately amongst pupils with the help of the ISS teachers. This demonstrates the depth of feelings about the seminar.
At the end of this year’s seminar, amongst the tears of saying goodbye, Emily said, “The best part of the seminar is meeting people you’ll keep in contact with for life, I hope.”
Grace commented, “The best bit was when everyone came back to my place (on the last night) - I just love them all!”
A number of the pupils asked if we could arrange a 2nd International Science Seminar (ISS) in Lytham St Annes later this year! Such warmth can only be generated when you have a mutual hosting experience, putting yourself out of your comfort zone and overcoming any fears you may have. We look forward to continuing our partnership by visiting Würzburg for the 22nd ISS in 2018.