Young Poets emerge from Oxfordshire Science competition
In March 2017 we asked young people from schools in Oxfordshire to write a short poem inspired by science, in any style, as part of the Oxfordshire Science Festival (OSF), a city-wide science-inspired celebration supported by Science Oxford.
We had a fantastic response from schools, with over 400 poems penned and submitted, ranging from limericks and rap to haiku, acrostic poems and even poems based on a shape.
Nine winning and runner-up entries were published in the Poetry of Science anthology (PDF), and performed to an enraptured audience at Oxford Town Hall on Saturday 17th June as part of the science festival.
The judging panel included Niall Munro, Director of Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, Kelley Swain, 2016 poet-in-residence at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Claire Hamnett, leader of Oxfordshire Science learning Partnership, Wild-Card FameLab 2017 contestant and rapper Tomasz Dobrzycki and OSF Director Dane Comerford.
The judges had a difficult decision to make with such a varied choice from children of all ages, and the standard was incredibly high; ‘Cassini’, a very accomplished tribute to space exploration, was written by Benjamin aged just six – and ‘Fossils’ by Holly, aged 7, was designed in the shape of an ammonite!
The overall winning poem ‘Metamorphosis’, (see below) was written by Kathi Viehhauser, from St Mary and St John’s Primary School in East Oxford, who won her school a trip to Diamond Light Source facility at Harwell, plus a free hands-on science workshop with Science Oxford.
Dane Comerford, Oxfordshire Science Festival Director said:
“Science isn’t always seen as a creative subject, but it really is. The imagination visible in these poems is astounding and I was delighted to see such enthusiasm for the project by pupils and their teachers. I really believe that by encouraging young minds to explore science and the world on their own terms, is one positive step towards embracing science as a part of contemporary British culture.”
By Kathi, age 9
Magic key to life
Inside a rounded object
Cut off from the world
Slow roll slow wave slow
Its wavy body moves on
Pushing and pulling
Cracking noise as it opens
Waiting to emerge
The Wings unfold and,
Symmetrical as mirrors,
They shut and open
A picture made by nature
“There’s real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality” ― Richard Dawkins
“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” Stephen Hawking