February 2021 OE Bulletin Content

Old Ewellian Email Bulletin Content

Old Ewellian Email Bulletin Content

 

It's nearly a year since the UK went into 'lockdown' for the first time and whilst 'lockdown 3' in the UK will ease from 12th April, it may not be until May that pubs and restaurants can resume serving food indoors.  However, let's focus on the positives ahead, April heralds the start of Spring in the UK and with a number of Covid-19 vaccines being rolled out globally, we must stay positive and motivated wherever we are in the world. 

The late Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised over £30 million for NHS charities was quoted as saying "Negative thoughts don't seem to be part of me."  What an inspiration to us all, so hang on in there, be positive and start looking forward to and planning for when we can socialise with friends and family.  To all our Ewell Castle alumni and community, continue to stay safe and keep positive.  Best wishes, Carol and all the staff at Ewell Castle School. 

 

Follow Us on LinkedIn
 
The School is ramping up its presence on LinkedIn, so do follow us https://bit.ly/3uq1nvh

Exciting news - later this Spring we're launching a LinkedIn members only Networking Group for Ewell Castle alumni, we'll update you when it's ready to launch.

 

Covid-19 Testing at ECS
 
Since the start of January, the School has undertaken weekly Lateral Flow Testing for Ewell Castle School pupils whose parents are critical workers and for staff who have been working on site.  Run by an army of volunteer staff, it's certainly a slick operation, with test results available in 30 minutes. 

 

Letter From America By OE Roger Smith in PA USA
 
One of the problems with living in an old city built largely before the car arrived on the scene is parking after a snowstorm. I live in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, founded in 1741 by Moravians from what is now the Czech Republic. Much of the downtown area of the city was built in the
19th Century, with streets laid out in a grid pattern. They are lined with beautiful trees which, in the summer particularly, are a glory.

In the winter, however, there is a problem: snow. The snowfalls are not the same every year but over a 2-3-year period they can be enough to make life difficult. This winter we have had several snowstorms and one that happened a week ago or so dropped 27 inches of snow on the city.
My house was built in 1880 and it had a coach house at the end of the garden facing on to an
alley. This was converted into a 3-car garage at some time. My neighbours park their cars in the street for the most part and this creates a special problem after a snowfall: They have to dig
their cars out. The recent heavy fall left these cars half buried. Their owners had to dig all
around them and open a passage from the kerb to the street. This threw up high walls of snow everywhere. The city of Bethlehem sent crews with large trucks to clear away these obstacles where lines of sight at street corners were obstructed. The car owners left lawn chairs and other obstacles in the empty space left by their cars in order to stop others parking in it. This is illegal since the streets are public. The city tries to discourage the practice, even taking away the chairs, but largely gives up and leaves them in place. Digging the cars out is almost a community affair, with people helping their neighbours. Because of Covid this is probably the first time since the start of the epidemic that they have been able to do this.

Since our car was in the garage, I didn’t have to dig it out but the apron in front of the garage doors, and the alley at the back of our house, had to be dug in order to allow the car out. Maneuvering a car over mounds of frozen snow is not easy!

The temperature usually warms up a bit and the snow starts to disappear but this time most of it is still here. The trouble with snow is that it looks beautiful while it is falling, especially here in Christmas City, but rapidly becomes a dirty mess.

 

By OE  Anoushka Bajwa 
OE Anoushka Bajwa is a recruitment consultant and has curated the following advice from her colleagues at Hays Recruitment for remote interviews and specifically on deciding if a role is right for you when interviewing remotely.

Whether you’re interviewing remotely or face-to-face, it can be hard to judge if an opportunity is really the right one for you. You might wonder if your skillset and future goals align with the role, whether or not it’s financially viable, or how it will help you progress further.

Of course, all of these things are incredibly important. But, when it comes down to it, you’ll often get a gut feeling. Your intuition will help you decide whether the opportunity is the right one for you.  It’s much easier for that instinct to kick in when you’re interviewing face-to-face. However, it is possible to do it remotely if you keep these six things in mind.

1. Do your research
Analyse the language used in the organisation’s job adverts. What can it tell you about what it might be like to work there? Is the language they use inclusive, accessible and relaxed? Are the role responsibilities clear, focused and succinct? Reading between the lines of job descriptions can really help you build a clearer picture of the opportunity than what you might realise.

It’s also essential that you review the organisation’s website, finding out more about its vision and purpose to see how well they align with your values. Visit its YouTube channel too; many organisations will create videos that will give prospective employees an idea of what it might be like to work there.

Other techniques you can use include reading Glassdoor reviews and searching Google News for any recent news coverage. Aside from scrolling through its social media channels, it’s also a great idea to research current employees on LinkedIn as their activity may give you clues into their company culture.

If your recruiter or the hiring manager sends you any company material, such as blogs or reports, ahead of your remote interview, be sure to read them.

2. Try to learn more about the company culture
Keep a lookout during your remote job interview for any other clues about the company’s culture. Is there anything about the interviewer’s background or environment on the video call that indicates what it would be like to work there? Or anything that gives you a feel for what it would be like to have that person as your manager?

If they’re in the office, what is the design and branding like? Or perhaps they’re at home where you can see and hear their children – demonstrating their flexible and relaxed approach.

3. Pick the right questions to ask
Remember that all interviews, whether they are conducted in person or remotely, are a two-way process. They don’t just give the interviewer the chance to find out more about your suitability for the role, but they also give you the chance to assess the role’s suitability for you.

Therefore, the questions you ask the interviewer and the answers they give, especially during a remote interview, can be extremely valuable in helping you to decide if this is the right opportunity for you.

There are certain questions about the role, team, interviewer, company and learning and development opportunities that will give you a better idea of what it would be like to work there. You could ask your interviewer to explain a typical day in the role, or how they define success.

It’s also worth thinking about whether you’d like to ask the interviewer questions surrounding Covid-19. These can give an insight into the company’s key learnings from the pandemic and how it supports its employees.

4. Assess your potential new boss
During the interview, analyse your potential manager’s communication skills. As your interview progresses, assess their clarity of thought, how they communicate their expectations for the role and for the successful candidate, and whether they seem to be listening to you. This will give you an idea of what it would be like to work with them.

Do you think this communication style would suit you and help you form a strong relationship? Be mindful, too, of the language used when your questions are answered, and throughout the interview. If they use ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ when speaking, that could suggest a non-collaborative approach.

Also assess whether the interview feels more like a conversation than an interrogation. If it feels natural and almost effortless, and the two of you seem to share many of the same motivations and values when it comes to your career and the workplace, then these are signs that you would get on well.

5. Pay attention to body language
While this is not as easy to do remotely as it would be in a face-to-face interview, it is still possible. After all, you can see whether or not the interviewer is smiling while you’re speaking, as well as what their posture is like and whether their arms are crossed or open. The interviewer’s gestures and vocal pitch can also tell you a lot about how invested they are in you as a candidate.

In fact, communication expert Mark Bowden shared some really valuable advice with me on reading your interviewer’s body language. “Watch for big changes in body language when you are speaking to the interviewer, rather than individual gestures,” he said.”

“If you see anything that stands out as very different in the interviewer’s posture, face, movement or behaviour, then ask them what their thoughts are on what you have been saying. This helps you check in on the significance from their perspective of what you are saying. It may give you a good opportunity to better understand how well your ideas, views or even personality fit with theirs as well as that of the organisation.”

6. Take some time to reflect
Assess how your interview process, from start to finish, has been handled. Does the company appear to be well organised? Are you, as a candidate, at the centre of the process? Has communication and feedback been prompt and detailed?

All of these things, paired with your knowledge and experience of the company to date, are signals as to whether it’s the right opportunity for you.  By Marc Burrage - MD Hays Poland

 

Physics in Film By Emir Ahmed
 
In what better way is there to depict science in films than to ask the people studying it off screen? Physicists are key in taking science from the lab to the red carpets and the streets of Hollywood.
Clifford Johnson, an English theoretical physicist, spends his days anatomising some of science’s most enigmatic mysteries. He has become the MCU’s (Marvel Cinematic Universe's) point of contact, where he adds his drizzle of scientific realism into their fictional stories. In an interview with Johnson, he shared one of his projects, where in ‘Agent Carter’ he ‘advised’ the MCU on an ‘exotic material that they wanted to use throughout the second series’.  When asked about the depth and detail that is required, we learn that he ‘filled the blackboards in Howard Stark’s lab with period appropriate equations’.
Science is a fundamental part in the film industry, and it is something that makes the films unique in their own way.

Emir is currently in the Sixth Form.

 

 

Ten Years into The Future By Shacreya Kusuharat
 
This article brings you 5 technologies that are currently being developed, which are hoped to create a new foundation for the world in the future, and is of interest to investors around the world. They are as follows: Bioplastic, AI, Metalens, Synthetic meat and safer nuclear reactors.

1) Bioplastic

Around the world, more than 300 million tons of plastics are used worldwide each year, but less than 15% of that is recycled. The remainder will be disposed of by combustion (burning) or buried under mounds of landfill trash, which takes hundreds of years to decompose. The future that holds for this planet, if this trend is continued, is a world full of plastic waste.

However, fortunately, now people are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of plastic on the planet, hence changes have be made to usual modes of life. For example, supermarkets are making an effort to reduce plastic usage by no longer providing plastic bags. Although this is ideal for the environment, this has resulted in an inconvenience for consumers, hence why focus has been switched to the manufacturing of an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic.

Bioplastic is a technology that synthesises plant-based components to make plastic substitutes that are either bio-based (derived from biomass, e.g. plants), biodegradable (able to be decomposed by naturally occurring bacteria), or features both properties. Its strength and durability are not comparable to traditional plastics, but it can be degraded much more quickly, and most importantly, it does not adversely affect the environment.

The impact of plastics on the world has reached a critical point. Once a new era where people pay more attention to nature has arrived, bioplastic will gradually become an integral part of reducing the creation of environmental pollution - truly a technology of the future world.


2) Artificial intelligence (AI) that better understands humans

The arrival of the smartphone has allowed our world to excel rapidly into the technological era of artificial intelligence (AI). Various functions such as facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, gesture and voice recognition has contributed greatly to the mass collection and storage of information in ‘Big Data’, which is a big driving force of the rapid development of AI.

In the present, AI is constantly evolving to the point where it develops and portrays abilities and skills that are very similar to humans, including the ability to process thoughts in order to solve a problem, and the ability to interact and communicate with humans.

Over the past 3-4 years, AI technology has experienced a huge leap forward, hence its increased usage in many fields. For example, it has been used in medicine for diagnosis; in engineering to develop autonomous vehicle systems; in industry to conduct industrial automation or even to create ‘Social Robots’ which are robots that have been especially designed to play the role of a human friend. They have been developed in a way by which have the ability to interact with humans and express emotions in a similar way that humans can.

Even though AI today has ample capabilities to perform well in many areas and fields, the development of AI still remains highly competitive, and constantly continues to develop. Who knows, perhaps in the future even higher order AI, that is as equally as capable and efficient as humans, may be introduced into this world, and when that time comes perhaps, they are able to perform tasks as efficiently as human colleagues and work partners.


3) Metalens

Metalens is a new lens technology that deals with lenses at a small scale, of only one micron thickness. It is an innovation designed to enhance the quality of lens-based electronic devices such as cameras, mobile phones, image sensors along with endoscopes used in medicine.

Typically, conventional, modern day lenses utilise the curvature of convex lenses in order to focus light onto a single point, hence its large size. On the other hand, Metalens, although they are of a smaller scale, are able to focus light onto a single point as effectively as an ordinary lens. This innovation could therefore be a revolution in various technical fields that depend on cameras.

Metalens is still in development, but in the future, this lens will surely play a very important role, especially in the medical field - the smaller an endoscope can be, the easier it can be used for treatment as more areas of the human body can be explored and diagnosis and treatment will also be much easier.

4) Synthetic meat

The United Nations has predicted that by 2050 the human population will increase to 9.8 billion people, and of course, the demand for food will also be greatly increased. Without an effective method of providing enough food for the world’s population, the world will be at risk of a food shortage crisis. Meat being a staple food, all around the world, it is expected that by 2050, it will be more than 70% more in demand than it is today.


Therefore, to prevent food shortage crises scientists are interested in creating ‘cultured meat’ which is synthesised by taking stem cells of the prototype animal and adding essential nutrients, before cultivating it in a bioreactor and allowing the meat to develop and grow.

The idea of this synthetic meat was first proposed in 2013 by a team of scientists from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. At that time, the cost of producing 1 kg of meat was US $478,993.

Despite receiving worldwide attention its high production cost meant that it was unable to be officially released as a product for sale.

This had been the case, until within these recent years, there have been a large number of technological startups regarding food; the area with greatest competition being synthetic meat production. Since 2013, the evolved methods of synthetic meat production meant that the cost of production has reduced. Most recently, the cost of production lies only at US $11 per 1 kg.

This has become a technology of hope for the future that may help tackle the global food shortage problem.


5) Safer nuclear reactors

Nuclear reactors are great sources of energy that generate several times more energy than an electric power plant. Furthermore, it produces relatively low pollution, but it carries a relatively high risk, as a slight accident can cause radioactive radiation to be emitted into the atmosphere and spread across a large area, causing damage the ecosystem.

In hope to reduce this risk, a new type of reactor was built. This type of reactor, known as a Small Modular Reactor (SMR), has a near zero chance of an accident occurring, and in the case of an emergency, the amount of radiation leaked can be suppressed thanks to a new installed security system that uses physics principles to control radiation leakage. The SMR is smaller than ordinary reactors; so small, in fact, that it can be transported by a truck. This is therefore convenient since the reactor can now be transported to remote areas where there is power shortage, improving the wellbeing of those living there.

Reproduced from 'This is Local London' & Young Reporter Scheme. Shacreya is currently in the Sixth Form.

 

President Biden's First Week By Lucy Crockford
 
For instance, he has advised Americans to “mask up”, as the nation reached a total of 23,704,607 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 3,321 deaths on the same day. Donald Trump, however, has repeatedly given confusing or false advice throughout the pandemic, for instance saying “I don’t wear a mask like him (Joe Biden). Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen” on the 29th of September 2020, when 42,737 cases and 772 deaths were recorded. Before his inauguration, Biden revealed a £1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which includes extending unemployment benefits for those who are unable to work and extending restrictions on evictions, which now needs approval from the Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate to be passed. Biden also signed several sweeping immigration policies, for instance strengthening the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), ending the Muslim travel ban, and putting a 100-day suspension on deportations of immigrants at risk who arrived after November, all within the first 48 hours of his presidency. He also ended the construction of Trump’s infamous border wall. As for the climate, Biden re-joined the Paris agreement on his first day in office. Donald Trump’s views on climate change were very controversial to say the least, calling it "nonexistent", “mythical” and "an expensive hoax", so all of Biden’s changes so far, and those to come, will be welcomed.

Reproduced from 'This Is Local London' & Young Reporter Scheme. Lucy is currently in the Sixth Form.

 

ECS Uses MS Teams
 
Ewell Castle has fully embraced online learning via Microsoft Teams and has been sucessfully delivering online lessons to it's Prep and Senior School pupils since the beginning of January. The image above shows a number of staff taking part in a Year group assembly.  Some of our newest alumni might recognise some of teachers involved in the call. How many can you identify?

 

Basketball News By Shea Brophy
 
Melo Ball first rose to fame when he started playing High School basketball at Chino Hills with his two brothers; Lonzo (drafted 2nd in 2017 by the Lakers) and Gelo (who has been between NBAS G-League teams). These brothers took their High School team to a 35-0 undefeated record. This team is said to be one of the greatest High School teams of all time.

Melo kept the spotlight on him even Lonzo had left for collage when he shocked the world and dropped 92 points in a single game. This made national news and was the biggest news in basketball at the time. After this season Melo’s father, Lavar Ball, pulled Melo and Gelo out of High School and focus on Basketball. They went to Lithuania and played professional basketball overseas, this made Melo the youngest person in US history to play professional basketball. However, this did not last long and Melo and Gelo moved back to the USA. Melo then decided to go back to High School and attend SPIRE Academy in Geneva, Ohio. LaMelo balled out alongside Mark Watts and Isaiah Jackson.


LaMelo wanted to attend university on a basketball scholarship however, he was not eligible to play because he had played professionally. So LaMelo decided to make history and announce that he was going to play for the Illawarra Hawks of the NBL in Australia. LaMelo took the NBL by storm becoming one of the most likable players and dropping two consecutive triple-doubles becoming just the fourth and youngest to do this in NBL history. Melo then took home NBL Rookie of the Year.

Then on the 18th November 2020 LaMelo was drafted 3rd overall and joined his big brother in the league. LaMelo has already made a name for himself in the NBA after only 6 games due to his flashy passes and deep range allowing him to shoot from anywhere. There is no doubt that Melo Ball a kid NBA fans have grown up watching will be an NBA star in the near future. 

Reproduced from 'This Is Local London' & Young Reporter Scheme. Shea is currently in the Sixth Form.

 

Climate Change By Lucy Crockford
 
The Warmest Year on Record.
It's common knowledge that our planet is getting warmer, and quickly, too.  Today, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, or C3S, reported that 2020 was the warmest year on a global scale since records began in 1880, tied with 2016. Temperature data shows that global temperatures were 1.25C warmer than average. Of course, in the past year, we have experienced the consequences of climate change. During the 2019/2020 bushfire season in Australia, images of violently red skies, the smoke turning glaciers in New Zealand brown. Some estimate that over a billion animals died in the deadly fires. Similar events were experienced in the western states of the United States, where wildfires ravaged forests and homes in California, Washington, and Oregon, burning over 8.2 billion acres and killing 37. 

If deadly wildfires weren’t enough, 2020 also overtook 2005 for the year of the most named storms in the season. Storms only get named if they are deemed to cause a certain impact, and an increase in named hurricanes and tropical storms over the years show the growing severity of the climate change crisis. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, an American scientific agency, have suggested that climate change makes hurricanes stronger, with heavier rain, and, although less frequent, they are more likely to be deemed powerful and therefore more deadly. On November 9th, 2020, Theta set the Atlantic hurricane season record for the 29th named storm that year. It broke the record of 28, previously held by 2005, which was the most infamous year for hurricanes in modern history. 

Scientists from C3S believe that one of the main contributing factors for the rise in global temperature is the heating experienced in Siberia, Alaska, and the Arctic, where temperatures were 6C above average in some areas. This is the warmest it has been in 3 million years.  Scientists have explained that, if the current trend continues, Arctic sea ice in summer could completely disappear by 2040. Communities all over these regions and areas have been experiencing the effects of the warm year, as scientists in Siberia noticed that the sea ice did not freeze until October, the latest on record, and there has been a significant increase in reports of people falling through the sea ice. 

Scientists have warned that we will continue to experience the effects of the rising global temperatures, and that the damage will be irreversible if we do not improve our habits and the way we use resources. Hopefully 2021 will be a better year for both us and the climate.

Reproduced from 'This Is Local London' & Young Reporter Scheme.  Lucy is a Sixth Form student.

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