In the words of Mr Myhill, “Bing Bong!” This was a sign for us to pay attention because interesting announcements would soon follow. So, for you readers: “Bing Bong!”. This article will be interesting!

A few days after the start of the academic year, we had the opportunity to exchange our small classroom for large lecture halls at Imperial College London. The reason was that we – Almira Prisandani, Anggaputra Pundi Satrio, Nurulfitri Wisetyaningsih, and Yehezkiel Davian Raditya – participated in the London International Youth Science Forum, or LIYSF in short.

The LIYSF is a science forum meant for young people between the ages of 17 to 21 years old, and the four of us, together with mr Patrick Diepenbroek, were proud participants of the 2013-forum, that ran from 24 July until 7 August.“Boooooring!” you may say. But truthfully, it was everything but boring!

A considerable chunk of LIYSF consisted of lectures and demonstrations. Besides these lectures and demonstrations, there were tons of visits, social events and other things that made it much more than just a science forum. Some of the lectures were dull, true, but the others were much, much more interesting. We learned about the science of bubbles, how to use them to find the shortest possible route and how to get into one (hint: make sure that you’re wet all over). We also learned the science of colour, how complementary colours work and how you can exhaust your cone cells into making you see colours that are not actually there!  One of the demonstrations was, in particular, really engrossing. Professor David Philips showed us how light therapy, known as phototherapy, can help cure skin diseases and treat jaundice. It sounds a little boring, but there were explosions and yellow liquid-filled faux-baby used in the demonstration and it made everything very interesting. Some of the lectures were beyond our comprehension, but the gist of it was enough to intrigue us and pique our curiosity.

In general, the visits were better than the lectures, though. During the visit to Warwick’s Electrochemistry department for example, two of us had the chance to make solar panels out of titanium oxide-coated glass slides and raspberry juice, along with making one with graphite instead of raspberry juice. So cool (but the exact science behind it escapes us though)! During another visit, one of us had the opportunity to literally vacuum mosquitos! Yes, vacuuming mosquitos is really done as part of fundamental research into reducing and managing malaria! And if that was not ‘hands-on’ enough, one of us visited the John Innes Centre had the opportunity to touch Charles Darwin’s letter! Albeit with plastic between her and the letter but she did get to touch a letter penned by Charles Darwin!

The best aspect of all of this, though, was the ‘social programme. It allowed us to get to know other students from around the world better, as well as spending time and having quite a bit of fun with them. One of the social events was the Great Crossword Treasure Hunt, which forced us to run around South Kensington and the surrounding area in search of answers and made us explore the place more than we probably would have had we not been told to go there.  There was also the LIYSF Olympics, where the two halls of residences, Beit and Southside, competed with each other. And during the International Cabaret, we saw that not only were we surrounded by top young scientists, but also by young people who were able to give breathtaking and entertaining performances.

All the aforementioned activities – lectures, demonstrations, visits, and the ‘social programme’  were prepared by the LIYSF committee. To a certain extent, we could simply ‘consume’ these activities. However, with the help of Ms Dias, Ms Ika, Mr Nugroho, and Mr Patrick, we could also show the results of our design project during a poster-presentation evening. In preparation for this evening, we had done research before our departure to London. Sacrificing precious after-school and summer-holidays time, we had been able to design and build a water filter made of locally available and cheap materials. Although scary at first (we were standing between award-winning university students from all over the world!), we soon realised that actually it was quite cool to present the results of our research!

Although the programme was very packed, we had some free time to explore London as well, we took the chance, and it gave us a little room to kick back and relax and made everything all the more enjoyable. We went to Buckingham Palace during, coincidentally, the change of guards, and visited Baker Street, though we did not have time to explore the Sherlock Museum due to its ridiculous queue. We also ate at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, which was good, and went to Oxford Street, which was taxing. All in all, it was a really memorable experience and whoever wants to learn about the latest cutting-edge research and/or wants to visit world-class institutes and/or wants to meet the most inspiring students and researchers from all over the world  and/or who is sceptical that people interested in science  can be very funny and cool people to hang out with.

You must join the LIYSF 2014 (or later)! You will have all of the aforementioned and you will be proven o so wrong: science and the people ‘doing science’ (from secondary school pupils, to professors) are funny and cool!

(Almira Prisandani, Anggaputra Pundi Satrio, Nurulfitri Wisetyaningsih, and Yehezkiel Davian Raditya)

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