"In Hong Kong, many students are stressed when studying Science. Like myself, I tended to rely on school syllabus more and paid more attention in revising than learning something new. However, after the two-week stay in Cambridge, I regain my curiosity for Science.
Instead of passive learning in the classroom, this programme enabled us to explore more by ourselves by exposing us to environments full of new things. For example, Dr. Elliot, a professor at the university, granted us the chance to be a detective in the activity ‘The Horrible Hypothesis’. With our mentors’ guidance, we started a quest to find the murderer of a wealthy man, Fartsom, and recover his diamond. We were encouraged to solve the murder mystery using forensic investigation skills that we just learnt. Although at the end very few could find the person responsible for Fartsom’s death, our ability to analyse different evidence and link up our known facts to reveal the unknowns were practiced in an interesting and adventurous manner.
We also had a lot of excursions. One of them was to the Science Museum. Rather than the typical ‘guided tours’, my mentor Henry skipped the explanation first and allowed us to try on different activity, including the Typhoon Simulator. This game creates a sense of spinning 360⁰ in midair for the players inside a fake racket which actually only moves slightly. He then asked us to do a research on the working principle on the simulator. With first-on experience and a little help from Henry, we can easily understand the science behind the game.
In this trip, we also have lots of opportunity to do experiments and take an active role to learn. In Biology, we were each given a sheep’s heart to dissect. After a short briefing by the teacher, we were permitted to ‘play with’ the heart and examine the heart strings and four chambers through different perspectives with respect. When I asked what the correct way of doing so is, our teacher replied with a simple but inspirational answer, ‘This is what Science is all about. You need to find out by yourself to experience the joy of science.’
Although our time in Cambridge was short, my passion for science was rekindled in the learner-friendly environment there. It was definitely a journey that we all can never forget."
Pang Tsz Ching
"The step off the coach and onto the ground of Churchill College, Cambridge marked my first time in a foreign university for 2 weeks all by myself. “That’s one small step for a coach ride, one giant leap in life.”
As the mother duck led its baby ducklings in a line across the road, the cars stopped to let them pass. Following the ducks, we crossed the road in a line behind our mentors.
Learning there was both relaxing and interesting. Munching on sandwiches, we sat with our new friends – new lifelong friends – on the grass and relaxed after lessons in the morning—the way Cambridge students sit reading a book by the River Cam after lunch. Instead of having tons of new knowledge, such as fractional distribution of fuel, chemical bonding, properties of a magnet field, etc. stuffed into our minds, our curious hearts were delighted by the Cambridge learning style so different from HK. Instead of looking at diagrams on textbook, we sliced open a pig heart on our own and looked at the real structure. To learn about DNA structures and the logical scientific way of thinking, we tried to solve a murder, which was more exciting than it sounded.
We were asked to count the number of passings by the white team in a video, and couldn't believe that we had missed a moon-walking bear who strode right across the screen. That was our lecture on Psychology—Attentiveness.
Dancing in a circle—or to be exact, running or fooling around, we laughed and shrieked and couldn’t help but regret thinking folk dancing for Burn’s Night was boring. As sweat drenched our yellow Cambridge T-shirt, we didn’t bother to think that we still had to wear it tomorrow.
During our fourteen days in Cambridge, we got a touch of the relaxing lifestyle of a Cambridge student. We learnt new things, had fun, made friends, grew more mature and developed more skills in problem-solving—overcoming difficulties and accepting challenges. The two weeks are not only a lesson on science, but also a significant step in life."
Chung Mung Tim
"The two-week stay in Cambridge is one of the most fruitful experiences in my life. Not only did it consolidate my understanding of Science, it also broadened my horizon and inspired me to explore Science from a different angle. In particular, my passion towards Biology was ignited, which drives me to gain more exposure in this subject.
Apart from learning new knowledge, I made life-long friends and formed long lasting relationships with some mentors. We learnt together, we played together, we laughed together... We have not known each other for long, but it is the quality of our experience that binds us together, it is the mutual understanding among us that connects us throughout our lifetime.
Once a friend, always a friend; once a team, always a team.
As the old saying goes, “Memories are the treasures that we keep locked deep within the storehouse of our souls, to keep our hearts warm when we are lonely.” I sincerely thank my group, Peterhouse, for all those wonderful times we had, and for the everlasting memories that we will all treasure forever."
Kam Chun Kei
"First time departing our own country, the trip to the UK was an exhilarating experience. My expectations of learning more scientific knowledge and immersing into the British culture were met.
In terms of science, a multitude of experiments were done, most of which were special and intriguing. For instance, in biology lessons, we were requested to extract our own DNA, which was a white spinning solid floating on a mixture of brine and liquid detergent. Slime was also made during chemistry lessons, demonstrating the cross-linking between polymers, which was also fun as the product resembled a bouncy ball.
When it comes to British culture, we had Burn’s Night Supper, which was a traditional Scottish festival celebrating food harvest and after which we had a folk dance consisting of simple steps. In addition, we had Formal Hall, which was a traditional British dinner during which we learnt table manners and other etiquettes.
The Cambridge programme also comprised other activities, including mock interview, which was the most petrifying experience of past interviewees, visits to various museums and observatories and the highlight – forensic investigation. Forensics is another word for scientific approach to look for clues connected with crime, and the professor who designed this activity made it hard for us to solve, claiming that so far nobody, including adults, had ever managed to solve the mystery. We were all ears when the professor unveiled the whole mystery to us one week after, and felt enlightened by this case.
All in all, the Cambridge programme was fun, thought-provoking and allowed us to have a taste of the true British culture, which could not be experienced in Hong Kong, despite being one of the colonies of the UK."
Cheung Kai Hei Trevor
"Upon arrival at Churchill College, Cambridge at the beginning of the 14 day trip, I was amazed by the beautiful scenery there. But no, I'm not here just for that, but also to learn, to journey through the past, the present, and the future of science.
What brought me to the past would be a model of doctors performing eye surgery with tools as simple as a pin, found at the medical history section of the Science Museum. What let me learn about the present would be lectures, lessons, and supervisions, where we learn about the existing scientific discoveries. What sparked my thoughts on the future would be a piece of journal assigned with the topic "Can we, should we, and will we colonize Mars".
Science has brought us very far. We might look at the medical tools used by previous people, compare them with our technology now, and laugh at how primitive they are. But have we considered that people coming after us would say the same about us?
At the same time, we must be aware of how we use such technology in the future. Are we going to colonize every planet and destroy them one by one, or do we use it for environmental conservation? Are we going to make weapons with it, or do we cure diseases with it? Are we going to do good, or do we do bad?
We should be proud of how far we've come, but never be arrogant. We should be humble, but never stop being ambitious. We should conserve, but never be conservative."
Lau Ching Yan
The above articles are adopted from St Paul's Co-Educational College's school magazine "Red Bricks".