Twenty-two Sixth Form pupils took part in the 15th annual trip to the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference this year held in Washington DC over the February Exeat. The AAAS President Dr Geraldine Richmond gave the opening address and developed the theme of the conference, Global Science Engagement, with a focus on international collaboration in science and society. Every year the AAAS Conference never fails to impress, but the announcement of T Cell therapy and the confirmation of gravitational waves made during this year’s conference, was very special, putting the conference in the news across the world.

As in previous years all our pupils found something of significant interest and took full advantage of the interesting range of talks. The science programme included talks on A Problem Shared: Teaming Up to Fight Epidemic Diseases, The CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing Revolution and Radiolab – Exploring Big Questions in Science, Philosophy and Human Experience. These these talks were all mandatory, and then pupils were able to select from more than 100 themed symposia on topical themes ranging from I Can’t Hear Myself Think! Noise and the Developing Brain from Infancy to Adulthood, to Search for Dark Matter and Learning from the Ebola Outbreak.

Washington DC is an excellent venue for the conference. For the tourist, it is a cultural treat, with world renowned museums including the Smithsonian Institute. Pupils enjoyed visiting many museums, Arlington Cemetery and the many monuments, including a night tour of Washington.  The pupils were very good company, and made the most of opportunities available to them with a true enthusiasm for and appreciation of the science.

A B Burrows