This year’s annual American Association for Advancement in Science meeting (AAAS) in Austin, Texas was attended by fifteen Oundle STEM pupils. AAAS is the world’s largest scientific non-profit organization, bringing together leading researchers in the field of science from all around the world.

Over three days, experts shared their cutting-edge knowledge via lectures and seminars in a packed programme with a kaleidoscopic variety of topics and presentations that attracted international headlines.

Highlights included talks on the discovery of exoplanets and asteroid mining; a thought-provoking lecture on how to limit the spread of diseases and the justification for selective treatment; the use of drones in photography; driverless vehicles; the International Space Station; and applications of quantum theory in computing.

The group was particularly impressed by the opportunity to hear from the former United States vice-president, Joe Biden, who concluded the conference with an impassioned speech about why there should be more investment in science at this critical moment in time.

The remaining days of the trip to Texas were spent exploring Lone Star culture, with walking tours of Congress Avenue dotted with statues commemorating Texas’ turbulent history, a visit to the state capitol building and boat trips on the Lady Bird and the Travis Lakes. There was a visit to the University of Texas and the Museum of the Weird, where the guides claimed to have preserved a corpse of an actual “bigfoot”. The group even fit in an all-American basketball match.

And of course, the group of growing young people took every opportunity to enjoy generous Texas-sized portions of food, including favourites such as fried chicken, donuts, waffles, tacos and steak.