Merchants' Academy students get a taste of Japan


Three sixth formers from Merchants' Academy take a ground-breaking trip to Japan

Three sixth-formers from Merchants’ Academy Bristol went to Japan last month  to learn more about the future science and engineering opportunities that will be open to them across the world.


Emily Roberts, Aaron Leonard and Lennox Allen took part in the 2016 UK-Japan Young Scientist Workshop programme at Tohoku University, which is at the centre of the area hit by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Aaron said: “The university was affected by the earthquake. It was interesting to find out more about how they coped with it and what they have done to remedy it.”

The three, all 17, and their teacher Alice Wills were supported by the Society of Merchant Venturers, one of the sponsors of Merchants’ Academy, to take part in the workshop alongside other students and staff from the UK and Japan.

Ms Wills, who is just starting her second year of teaching at the academy, said: “It was an amazing opportunity for the students – and for me. I never had the chance to do anything like this when I was at school. The students got a taste of university life and were able to work alongside people who have spent their whole lives working in science careers. It really only opened their eyes.”

Emily, Aaron and Lennox are among the first students at Merchants’ Academy to study physics as part of an expansion of AS and A level courses in the school’s sixth form. All three have been at the academy in south Bristol since they were 11.

Aaron has his sights set on an engineering degree and a career in mechanical or civil engineering. Emily hopes to go on to study criminal psychology at university and Lennox accounting, but both say physics is opening doors for them. They are also delighted at the opportunity to learn more about Japanese life and culture.

“It is so different – it is on the other side of the world. I don’t know anyone who has been to Japan,” said Emily.

The programme was organised by the Clifton Scientific Trust. Dr Eric Albone, the trust’s director, said: “We were delighted to welcome Merchants’ Academy to this summer’s UK-Japan Young Scientist Workshop in Tohoku University. By working in teams with other British and Japanese students in a programme organised by Japanese scientists and engineers we saw them grow in confidence as creative scientists and global citizens.”

Dr Hilary Macaulay, executive principal of Merchants’ Academy Trust, said: “We are thrilled that our students, who are able to study science at a higher level at the Academy, had this life-changing opportunity to be involved in this study programme in Japan. The unique opportunities which our students already benefit from through the Academy’s sponsorship by the University of Bristol with its exceptional input are complemented by this experience.


“These young people are proving excellent role models, who will encourage others from our community to aspire to careers in science, technology and engineering.”

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