Lockdown Was No Barrier to these Prize-Winning Welsh School Students

A rap about nitrogen and an introduction to quantum theory that even you can understand have won a competition for Welsh school students that took place over the summer. 

The Learned Society of Wales’ Learner Lockdown Challenge asked students in Years 11 and 13 to create an explainer on a topic they will be studying in sixth form or university, filling in the gap left by the cancellation of summer exams.   

Entries came in from across Wales and were judged by Fellows of the Learned Society, academics based in Welsh universities. 

The range of subjects was broad, covering everything from the smallest particles to the immensity of outer space. 

Grazia Obuzor, from Hawthorn High School, Pontypridd, won the Year 11 prize with a rap about nitrogen, which drew upon the song ‘My Shot’ from the Hamilton musical. 

The other winner was Daniel Hunt, also from Rhondda Cynon Taf. The Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School student explained, in plain language, the intricacies of quantum theory to win the Year 13 prize. He and Frazia both received £300, while runners-up won £150. 

Professor Hywel Thomas, President of the Learned Society of Wales and one of the judges said: 

“I, together with the rest of the panel, was taken aback by the quality of work. The imagination, intelligence and clarity of expression on display is a credit to the individual students themselves, but also their schools and teachers. 

“Congratulations to everyone who took part. The lockdown has been a challenge for young people. The resilience demonstrated through taking part in this Challenge shows real strength of character.” 

Daniel Hunt (A-Level winner, Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School): 

Quantum Theory and Some Confounding Experiments

“I’m really excited to have won the competition, so thank you very much for the opportunity to participate. I really enjoyed the challenge as a way to stretch myself during lockdown. It was tricky figuring out what to say within 2000 words but very rewarding once I had finished it. I’m thrilled to have won the challenge, but the task itself was fun and kept me occupied for a solid few weeks.” 

Grazia Obuzor (GCSE Winner, Hawthorn High School):

You Called Me Nitrogen

This video was so much fun to make, especially because I got to combine two of my favourite things: Chemistry and HAMILTON! I’m thrilled that the judges liked it too. Thanks so much for picking this as a winning project; it means a lot to me.” 

Holly Beacham (A-Level runner-up, St Albans RC High School):

Studying Viruses, their Diseases and the Immunology that Follows

“I entered the competition when a teacher sent us a link to the website during the beginning of quarantine. I decided to have a go at it and made a powerpoint based on virology and immunology, which is what I am going to uni to study. I thought that it would be an excellent way to get others interested in a field of study that is extremely relevant at this time. It was an excellent way get a head start on the course because of the research required to make the powerpoint.” 

Peredur Morgan (A-Level runner-up, Ysgol Penweddig)

Effaith COVID-19 ar Ariannu’r Wlad 

“Rwy’n ddiolchgar iawn i Gymdeithas Ddysgedig Cymru am gynnig y cyfle yma. Roedd cael testun agored wedi fy ysbrydoli i fynd i’r afael â phwnc sydd o diddordeb mawr i fi. Roedd yn gyfle gwerthfawr iawn i  ddatblygu sgiliau ymchwilio ac ysgrifennu am bwnc hollol gyfoes, yn ogystal â dysgu mwy am economeg a’r byd ariannol. Bydd y sgiliau yma yn ddefnyddiol iawn pan fyddaf yn astudio Economeg yn y brifysgol! Diolch yn fawr iawn. ”

Steffan Rhys Thomas (GCSE runner-up, Ysgol Gyfun  Gymraeg Glantaf): 

Ydy’r Bydysawd yn Ehangu?

“Rydw i wrth fy modd i glywed am y wobr. Mae wedi bod yn brofiad gwych i wneud gwaith estynedig ar bwnc sy’n fy niddori yn fawr iawn. Roedd y cyfle i ffocysu ar ymchwil academaidd hefyd yn werthfawr yn ystod cyfnod clo COVID-19. Rwyf wedi mwynhau’r sialens ac yn ddiolchgar i’r Gymdeithas am gynnal y gystadleuaeth.”