From Sunday March 5th to Tuesday March 7th 40 students from Y10 and Y11 enjoyed a trip to Disneyland Paris for the annual Science Live! Conference.

It was an early start leaving at 6am on the Sunday morning for the long trip to Paris via coach and ferry. We arrived in time to grab an evening meal in the Disney Village before going back to the hotel to check in.

On the Monday students had a few hours enjoying the rollercoasters and rides of Walt Disney Studio’s Park whilst diligently filling in their workbooks which were full of tasks related to the attractions.

After lunch it was time for the Conference which was facilitated by Dallas Campbell (host of TV’s Bang Goes the Theory). Then there were three fantastic lecturers lined up.

Brendan Walker who is credited with being the world’s first “Thrill Engineer”. Originally trained as an aeronautical engineer he now runs the “Thrill Laboratory” which helps theme parks to design their rides. He spoke about the psychology involved in designing a ride to maximise the excitement and fear that you feel whilst using physics to ensure everything is done without hurting anybody.

Suzie Imber spoke about her fascinating career trajectory as a planetary scientist and how she studies “space weather” to understand the impact of the solar wind on the magnetised planets. She also took us through her journey on the BBC series “Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?” which put her through the astronaut training programme and she eventually went on to win.

Dr Zoe Laughlin gave an incredibly entertaining and interactive talk about materials science which involved using volunteers to test the compressive strength of biscuits (by standing on a tower of them) and throwing the world’s second hardest material at the wall to see what would happen (damage is the answer…)

The conference ended with a Q&A session which prompted some insightful and fascinating questions from the audience.

After the conference the students enjoyed the rest of the day in the Disneyland Park absorbing the magic of Disney, watching the parades, seeing the illuminations and of course, going on yet more rollercoasters!

Before heading home on the Tuesday students were treated to a two hour walking tour of Paris and saw most of the major sights including Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomph and the Eiffel Tower. This rounded off a thoroughly enjoyable and educational trip!