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Nuffield prizewinner

During the summer of 2006, Holly Batchelor from The Mary Erskine School, whilst a Nuffield Bursar, worked with Alan and Peter on a cosmic ray hodoscope, the PP4SS cosmic ray ‘doorway’ and on making a small, inexpensive cloud chamber aimed at schools.

On 23rd February at the Royal Society, which hosted the 2007 BA Crest Science Fair, Holly won the highest prize at the 2007 BA Crest Science Fair in London, for her project “Cosmic rays: investigating particles from space”, giving her the chance to represent the UK at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), in Albuquerque, New Mexico, against 1,500 of the brightest and most talented youngsters around the world.

We’re delighted to announce that Holly went on at ISEF to win an impressive three prizes: the First Award in the Physics and Astronomy Category (this included $3000 prize money and having a near-earth asteroid named after her), an Agilent Technologies paid Summer Internship, and a Certificate of Honourable Merit from the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Physical Society.

Commenting on her achievement, Holly said: ‘I thought that so many of the other finalists’ projects were absolutely amazing, so when listening to the ascending role-call of winners, I couldn’t believe my ears when they called out my name. Even though the noise in the auditorium was deafening, I could still hear the screams of my chaperones from the BA. More than the prize money, I love the idea of having my name in space forever: it’s a huge privilege – I don’t think it’s sunk in yet!’
Holly had to present her project, which investigated cosmic rays – high energy particles that travel close to the speed of light, to no fewer than twelve judges for a gruelling duration of three hours in total. She was commended for her enthusiasm about her subject, her fantastic communication skills and the wide applications of her project.

Holly has since visited the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva, and in June was invited to take part in Intel’s EMEA Academic Forum in Budapest, where she was part of the panel discussing “Diversity: Women in Science and Engineering.”

In October Holly begins a Physics degree at the University of St. Andrews, for which she was recently awarded a scholarship.

This isn’t the first Nuffield student working with Alan and Peter to win a major prize: Ingrid Burt from Beeslack School in Penicuik, whose project on time dilation was undertaken during the summer of 2005, won a national award at the BA Crest Science Fair in London in 2006, allowing her to attend the London International Youth Science Week last summer. Ingrid is now studying Physics at the University of Cambridge.
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