Nine Lower Sixth boys presented their Bedford School Independent Project (BSIP) work on Monday 25 June as they competed for the BSIP Presentation Prize 2018. In front of a mixed audience of parents, teachers and academic scholars, the nine finalists each spoke for fifteen minutes on their research topic and took questions from the floor. The candidates were arranged into two groups and each group winner then spoke for a second time before the overall winner was declared.
There was a great deal of range and intellectual ambition on show, each presentation taking us ‘beyond the syllabus’ and into new areas of interest. In the Memorial Hall, Silas Sanders introduced his audience to the work of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, exploring the social, political and spiritual influences on his work, and playing a number of musical excerpts to support his analysis. Laurence Pleuger, sword in hand, followed this with a talk on the development of weaponry in Medieval Europe, before Charlie Hicks restored a more contemporary focus with his discussion of Ghanaian healthcare and its relationship to the country’s wider socioeconomic status, also placing the Ghanaian record alongside that of neighbouring states. Sung Yat Ng was Highly Commended for his presentation on traditional Chinese medicine and its impact on modern Western healthcare and the Group Winner was declared to be Thomas Pelling following an excellent explanation of one of Einstein’s theories.
In room A21, Tom Qin opened proceedings with a confident and diverting assessment of the strength of China’s state-owned enterprises, considering the best route to reform and the likely challenges standing in the way of progress, while also introducing some great comparative analysis. Of real interest, given the setting, was Elijah Cooke’s presentation on the advantages and disadvantages of co-educational schools. Elijah placed UK educational performance in a global context and, referring to research on East Asia, constructed an eventual argument in favour of single-sex education. Jonathan Blake delivered a very well-researched talk on the Battle of Stalingrad, exploring its status as a turning-point of World War Two, before Alex Ward, speaking entirely without notes, brought this first stage of the evening to a close with an engaging exposition of the role cryptocurrencies will likely play in future society. Tom Qin was Highly Commended and Jonathan Blake judged the Group Winner, setting up a ‘Final’ in the Memorial Hall between two very different styles of presentation, each with tremendous merit.
Adjudication took place according to the following criteria: (i) the level of research, including the selection and evaluation of a wide range of relevant resources; (ii) the level of critical analysis, showing an awareness of the wider literature/research base; (iii) the level of effective communication to the audience. After much discussion, the winner was declared to be Jonathan Blake. Covering military strategy, civilian morale, ideology, the landscape of war (in particular the impact of bombing on urban battlefield tactics) and the relationship of the battle to the wider global context of the Second World War, the range and depth of Jonathan’s research really shone through in a presentation showcasing both precise knowledge of key factors and also an impressive grasp of the topic as a whole.
Many thanks to all the boys who took part, to BSIP tutors and the staff adjudication panel of Mr Tighe, Dr McCormick, Mr Herring and Mr Graham, and to the Library team for supporting the programme and so expertly providing a platform from which our boys can attempt work of this nature. This was first and foremost an exhibition of the best academic extension work seen this year and all boys should be congratulated for their excellent efforts. Many will go on to complete EPQs (Extended Project Qualifications) in late 2018 and the research skills they have developed should prove invaluable as they move on to the next stage of their educational careers. It is also hoped that the boys have simply enjoyed learning more about topics they are interested in, and have taken some inspiration from having had the opportunity to share that knowledge and understanding with others in their academic community.
BSIP Presentation Prize 2018: Summary of Results
Overall Winner: Jonathan Blake
Overall Runner-up: Thomas Pelling
Highly Commended: Tom Qin
Highly Commended: Sung Yat Ng