Education news

Search launched for school science stars

Paddy Gilmore, National Museums NI, Frances Weldon, STEM Outreach Manager at Almac and Hans Sloane trustee Sally Montgomery

A-LEVEL and GCSE pupils are to be recognised by awards set up in the memory of two of Northern Ireland's most famous and forward-thinking scientists.

The Hans Sloane (Memorial Fund) Trust, in partnership with National Museums NI, was established in 1960 to commemorate the life and work of the notable Killyleagh surgeon and collector, Sir Hans Sloane.

He promoted inoculation against smallpox, the use of quinine (a treatment for malaria) and the health-giving properties of drinking chocolate mixed with milk.

The trustees award the Hans Sloane Medal to the top pupil obtaining the highest combined marks in biology, chemistry and physics at A-level.

The trust and National Museums NI, are now in the second year of a partnership with Almac Group, the Craigavon based contract development and manufacturing organisation.

Through that partnership last year, for the first time, a new award was established for the north's brightest GCSE pupil.

The Sloane McClay Award commemorates the lives of both Sir Hans Sloane and Almac founder, inspirational entrepreneur and philanthropist Cookstown-born Sir Allen McClay, whose vision was for Almac to be the leader in the generation of superior solutions for the advancement of human health.

It is awarded to the top student at GCSE obtaining the highest combined marks in biology, chemistry, physics and maths. The recipient of the Sloane McClay Award will also be offered a work placement at Almac during their AS-level year.

School principals will receive a letter inviting them to nominate their top performing pupils by November 2. Winning students, and their families, will be invited to attend an awards ceremony at the Ulster Museum in January.

Frances Weldon, STEM outreach manager at Almac, said: "As a global organisation, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sir Allen McClay opening the doors of his pharmaceutical development business at our Craigavon headquarters, we rely on the talent and expertise of our employees to drive growth. We must continue to encourage and engage the next generation of scientists to realise our vision to advance human health.

"We hope that recipients of both the Hans Sloane Medal and the Sloane McClay Award will continue to make a difference to knowledge, understanding and society in the same way Sir Allen McClay and Sir Hans Sloane did."

Paddy Gilmore, Head of Programmes at National Museums NI, said both Sir Hans Sloane and Sir Allen McClay were inspired by science to improve people's quality of life and their values were inspirational to many.

"They both used their talents, time and wealth to help others. That quest for deeper knowledge and understanding, that both men shared, is something that we are particularly passionate about here at National Museums NI."

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