Busy Time at the Grayling Centre

05 Mar 2018

It's been a busy few days in the Grayling Centre, with regards to Higher Education. On Friday 2nd March, not one, but two universities visited and spoke to the Sixth Form students.

In our lunchtime talk slot, Rupert Seal from Queen Mary’s University of London spoke to students under the title of ‘International Law and Disputes’. He discussed with students how international disputes are managed and then went onto to talk about Brexit and the complications in Article 50, as well as championing how Gina Miller as a member of the general public was able to challenge the head of the British legal system and how the British constitution differs from the American constitution. After a series of questions, Ariana, an upper Sixth student, was delighted to receive various items of QMUL “stash”, including a hoodie and t-shirt, for her communication with QMUL law professors over her EPQ.

In the first of our new evening university talks, Dr Steve Minchin, from the University of Birmingham, visited to talk about ‘Genetic Switches’. He discussed a number of elements within the field of genetics, particularly transcription factors and how to control them. It was also a great chance for flipped learning with the biologists now somewhat prepared for the introduction of the genetics module, which they will be starting in lessons next week. Under epigenetics, he also talked about DNA methylation, while our students were able to demonstrate some understanding of the genetics of Down Syndrome. He applied the understanding of X chromosome activation to cats and the colours in their fur coat, as well as how some people do not have developed sweat glands due to the X chromosome.

His comments on how gene deregulation can lead to disease were particularly thought-provoking and lead to a number of questions at the end, especially with regard to why functioning p53 means that someone will not get cancer. He concluded with a discussion on how having more prodynorphin in our bodies than other mammals, makes us human, as it is linked to learning, memory and pain.

However, that was not entirely the end, as some members of the audience were quick to ask questions, such as whether a dinosaur can be created through genome editing of a chicken. Once most of the audience had gone, Dr Minchin was then surrounded by Granville boys who wanted to ask a number of further questions.

On Sunday 4th February, we took a minibus of students into KL to visit the EducationUSA Fair, which was held at Hotel Istana. After the event was opened by the USA ambassador to Malaysia, the students had the opportunity to talk to around 50 universities, as well as listen to seminars on topics such as visa applications, liberal arts college applications and personal essay writing.

This next week is even busier in the Grayling Centre. After visitors from Miami University and Ulster University on Monday, a series of lecturers from the University of Bristol arrive on Tuesday to give talks on a variety of topics. On Wednesday, Natasha (Upper Sixth, Rosebery) is giving a ‘Man with the Rubber Headhead’ talk on ‘Art and Psychedelic 60s’, which is then followed on Thursday by a number of our very own teaching staff being involved in a panel discussion about their experiences of gap years.