The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is keen to encourage students to see biology as an inspiring and exciting field of study. Linda DaVolls tells us about ZSL’s annual Prince Philip Award and Marsh Prize!
If you are reading this then it’s probably safe to assume that you have more than a passing interest in science and are curious about the natural world. At ZSL we want to inspire students to take the step from learning about wildlife to investigating it. ZSL runs an annual competition for the Prince Philip Award and Marsh Prize, which is presented to a sixth-form student for the best project on animal biology. The aim is not to ‘discover everything’ about the species being studied but to focus on one or two simple questions about its ecology, behaviour or physiology, which can be explored through practical work. Recent winners have studied the effect of lemon peel on the behaviour of worms in a wormery, or assessed factors that affect the distribution of ground beetles in Scotland or devised an experiment to investigate whether the common garden snail can see in colour.
Full guidelines for entering the completion can be found here http://www.zsl.org/science/zsl-awards
Each project should be about 3000 words and include photos, tables and graphs. You will need to explain the aims of the study and include a testable hypothesis, as well as select the best methods and statistical analysis to interpret your results. The experiments should be described in sufficient detail to allow the study to be replicated. If possible, you should include a description of how the variables are controlled to produce reliable results. Your conclusions and a discussion should describe any limitations of the study and highlight areas for further research. Large data sets can be added as appendices, and don’t forget to include a bibliography to demonstrate the background reading and references you used to research your topic.
To enter you must be under 19 years of age on 1 January in the competition year and must be/have been a pupil at a school or college in Great Britain or Northern Ireland. A project may be the work of one student or a joint project from not more than two students.
Projects are judged by a panel of scientists and education officers, and marked on accuracy of observations, planning, interpretation, significance of conclusions, writing style and neatness of presentation.
The prize is £600 for you, while your school or college receives a medal. You will also have an opportunity to publish a summary of your project in YSJ. What better way to start your career in science?
The closing date is 30 November 2016. Please submit your project to Linda DaVolls, Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY.
I look forward to receiving your project!