St Oscar Romero Catholic School enjoys science-contest success

Young scientists from a Worthing school have wowed the judges in a national competition.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 9:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 3:09 pm
The St Oscar Romero Catholic School students were invited to the Palace of Westminster after winning the competition

To mark the International Year of Sound, the Institute of Acoustics held a competition for secondary schools, asking students to produce a ‘soundscape walk’ of their local environment.

The walk had to be no more than 2km and describe sounds encountered along the way.

The team from St Oscar Romero Catholic School – made up of Luke Bartram, William Clarke and Dominic Winton – took their entry to the next level, producing an interactive entry which included images and sound recordings at each location – and displayed the wave-forms of each recorded sound.

The St Oscar Romero Catholic School students were invited to the Palace of Westminster after winning the competition

Announcing the winners, president of the Institute of Acoustics Stephen Turner described their soundscape as the ‘stand-out entry for the judges’. Angela Lamacraft, a senior acoustic consultant was one of the judges. She described the entry as ‘fantastically innovative’, adding: “The boys clearly understand that soundscapes comprise the emotion felt by people as well as the acoustic information within the sound, and they were obviously inspired by the competition.”

In addition to the £500 prize and engraved glass trophy, the winning team was invited to the Palace of Westminster to attend the Noise Abatement Society’s John Connell Awards Ceremony last month.

At the event, the St Romero’s team also met their local MP, Sir Peter Bottomley.

Sir Peter said: “I was pleased to be able to welcome the team to Parliament, alongside their capable teachers, head teacher and proud parents.

“Congratulations to all. This is an achievement to be proud of.”

Luke said: “I really enjoyed taking part in this competition. It was really interesting to think about all the sounds that we normally take for granted.”

Dominic said making the soundscape walk was ‘great fun’. He added: “We learned a lot about the sounds in our local environment. It was an amazing experience to go to the Palace of Westminster to receive the award.”

And William said: “This competition really made us think about acoustics. We wanted to make our entry interactive, so our soundscape walk included sound recordings at each location along the 2km route.

“We really enjoyed making the recordings and listening to them. We were so pleased to find out we’d won.”

The students’ success marked the second time in as many years that St Oscar Romero had won a science competition at a national level, following the success of the ‘Lost Box’ project in the engineering section of The Big Bang competition in 2020.

Physics teacher Peter Clarke said: “This competition really captivated our students. Dominic, Luke and William came up with some great ideas about which sounds they wanted to record, culminating in a soundscape walk with a huge variety of natural and artificial sounds, presented in an interactive format.

“It has changed the way they view – or, rather, hear – their surroundings.”

“We are constantly looking for ways to engage our students in science, in lessons and beyond. Other notable recent events include success in the international Biology Challenge competition run by the Royal Society of Biology, in which Evelyn Starbuck achieved a Gold award, with numerous students gaining silver and bronze awards; Harry Potter-themed science activity days with our local primary schools; a Science Week event which saw the whole school jumping up and down on the playground to measure the effect on a seismometer and annual physics and chemistry competitions.

“It’s an exciting time to be studying science at St Oscar Romero’s. We just love seeing our students thrive both inside and beyond the classroom.

“I’m really proud of Luke, Dominic and William for this fantastic success.”

Head teacher Peter Byrne added: “We are so proud of our students who took up the challenge of this fascinating STEM competition.

“They dedicated a lot of time to making sure their entry conveyed the variety of sounds around them. It was also a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our natural world and the sounds within it.”

For more information and the winning entry can be found on the Institute of Acoustics website.