Announcing the winners of our year 9 challenge

Congratulations to our two year 9 challenge winners!

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In June we announced the Make Happen year 9 challenge, which encouraged year 9 students across Essex to use your imagination and broaden your skills in four different creative categories – plus there was the added bonus of potentially winning a £20 voucher!

We’re delighted to be able to announce the two winners:

  • Lucy from Manningtree High School for an impressive interview of an aspiring forensic anthropologist
  • George from The King John School for a design of a dream university

Even if you didn’t take part, our year 9  challenge also provided some ideas and inspiration on possible careers, so take a look under explore the challenges!

Congratulations to Lucy and George. We’ll be in touch soon with details of your prize!

Look out for more Make Happen challenges coming soon.


Here is Lucy’s prize-winning interview with an aspiring forensic anthropologist:

1. What is your dream job and why?
My dream job is to become a forensic anthropologist; when I was nine years old I used to watch the TV show ‘Bones’, which is where I discovered the world of forensics and fell in love with it. The woman whom the show was based off is an author called Kathy Reichs who is also a forensic anthropologist. She has worked on different projects, such as 9/11 and other things like that. I think it is amazing how they can bring closure to a family and let them mourn peacefully knowing what happened, also not many people actually know what anthropologist’s do which I think is really cool.

At the time, I didn’t fully understand what the scientists were talking about on the show when referencing everything, as I first watched it back in 2012, but it was the start. My love for Bones grew season after season until I was so obsessed I was creating fact files on the characters. The main character Temperance Brennan is loosely based on the author Kathy Reichs, which originates from the heroin in Reichs crime Novels.

Following this, I started looking into Kathy; who was she and what did she do? Finally I delved further until I was one hundred percent totally in awe and star struck by her amazing work and what she does. I’ve read her books and have most of them at home on my bookshelf although she does have twenty five! After this, I looked into forensic anthropology as a potential career and I discovered that it was a special sub-field of biological anthropology; the study of human remains that involves applying skeletal analysis and archaeological techniques that involves crimes. I became fascinated by it and the fact that they work on the front line of natural disasters and terror attacks, unseen and unheard but so important to our everyday lives.

2. What has been your experience in college?
I take A-Level biology and sociology with AQA and A-Level Maths with OCR. I would say Maths is probably the most difficult subject but the majority of my friends take it as well so if I need any guidance we can help each other on different topics. I find biology really interesting as there is a lot of practical work as well as theory, so we do dissections and things like that. I would say Sociology is my easiest subject as it is a lot of working through notes, articles and watching documentaries.

3. How did you go about applying and finding your dream university?
My dream university is the University of Dundee to study forensic anthropology; I started looking at universities on the Complete University Guide using the rankings to help my decision. From there I looked at many across the country but I didn’t consider studying abroad. After looking at the places available for my specific course I was able to eliminate forensic chemistry and psychology as it wasn’t what I was interested in. There are only 3 places that have the course I want to study and one of them I eliminated due to cost, which brought me down to two different places; Dundee being my first.

Although, I have to choose five universities to apply too, my last three options are universities that hold a forensic science course. One of the major influences that helped me make my decision was the area it is built in, I never wanted to go to a university in a city but one with a small population and no built up areas surrounding it, my other options where influenced by cost, whether it was a campus, and the accommodation. The grades I need to get to get into my dream university is three B’s for general entry into year one.

4. What is your current job and why?
I currently work at a café in town which is a five minute walk from my college, I have a part time job so I usually work on a Saturday with the exceptions of a few times on a Friday afternoon when I have a free period. I don’t work in the week as I spend that time studying, the same as my Friday nights and Sundays. I have my job to save up money for university and other bits like that.

5. How has the effort you have put into your school life affected your future thus far?
Before my GCSE’s I was doing about five or six hours of revision everyday in the two month lead up to exams. I ended up getting one grade nine, five grade eights, and four grade sevens – so all my results were above an A grade, which helped me to get into the college I wanted and into the courses I wanted to take. I carry on that same work ethic in college to keep up my predicted grades for my A level exams.

During quarantine, I have stuck to the same schedule I would at school, with starting my work at nine o’clock and finishing at around six o’clock. I have also used many revision techniques to aid my learning, I mainly use mind maps for revision which helps me to summarise my notes and cut down on any information I don’t need, but I also use flashcards, and I test myself regularly using Seneca and Quizlet to keep me up to date with my revision.

6. Have you done any extracurricular activities to improve your school and work life?
I take archaeology as an extracurricular at college which is really handy, as a big part of forensic anthropology is archaeology – through digging up remains and excavating sites, but it is also something that interests me separately. I also do some online courses, such as one on Open Learn from the Open University, which was on Forensic Science and Fingerprinting which has led me to do my EPQ in forensic identification techniques.

My most recent online course was with Durham University which was six weeks long and about four hours work a week. It was really fun and gave me an introduction to what I would be doing at university. It made me sure that I was doing what I loved and didn’t make a mistake choosing this course.


Lucy’s self review

“Something that I have learnt from this interview is how to find the right university for me. She went into a lot of detail when telling me how she chose her dream university and it showed me that you have to look at all the minor details such as price, accommodation and even the type of university it is to suit you as a person when deciding this, as it is a major decision. What surprised me was the thought and time she put into finding out about her dream job, she had spent years and years researching and learning about forensic anthropology and even took a course on it to find out if it was as good as it as she thought and hoped it would be; hearing first hand from someone about the journey they went through and steps they took to where they are now, put into perspective how successful you can be if you can be bothered to put in the time and effort to do so.

“The things I have learnt during this interview will definitely impact my future, learning and hearing about how much dedication and time she put in on the lead up to her GCSE’s to make sure she was as prepared and ready as she could be was quite inspirational. Another piece of information I heard that will impact my future is when she talked about all her extra-curricula’s and optional work. Not only did she do her set work but on the weekends, started online courses to further her knowledge and understanding of the specific subject she was interested in. I could tell whilst interviewing her that she thought about which extra-curricula’s to take that would aid her learning and chances of getting into her dream university as I was told that archaeology coincided with the anthropology course she wanted to take.

“A piece of advice I was given about getting a job is that it has to be enjoyable for you. In-between all the work and revision she does in the week and even weekends, you sometimes need a break to relax and your job may be one of the few chances to do so, with it being part-time. It really sounded as if she does enjoy going to work as it gives her a chance to save for university but to also have a time out so as not to get too overwhelmed with work.”

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"We're delighted to be able to announce two winners"