Local students to test brain power in ‘Orielympics’

For one night next week students from Wolverhampton, Dudley and Stourbridge will get their very own academic event thanks to Oriel College, Oxford – with an Olympic twist.

Oriel CollegeLocal state school students will be taking part in an Olympics-themed overnight visit to Oxford University’s Oriel College as part of an outreach event aimed at attracting more students from the greater Birmingham area.

The students from Wednesfield High School, Bishop Milner High SchoolPedmore Technology College, Redhill School, and Ridgewood High School are among 50 attending the ‘Orielympics.’

The Orielympics will take place over two days at Oxford’s Oriel College for students in Years 9 and 10, where they will take part in sessions delivered by Oxford academics. These include looking at controversial events in the Olympics’ history, investigating the various factors potentially influencing a nation’s medal tally, the physiology of sporting performance and the scientific testing of performance-enhancing drugs.

Students will also be examining some of the live insects in the Oxford Museum of Natural History’s collection as part of an investigation into the competitive spirit in nature.

Across the two days, the pupils will work on group projects in a subject of their choice related to the academic sessions, assisted by Oxford students and tutors. The visit will culminate in a presentation to a panel of academic judges and a prize-giving ceremony.

Francesca Slattery, Outreach Officer for the college says: “The Orielympics is all about working with bright young students who love their subjects and introducing them to what life is like living and studying at Oxford, while challenging them intellectually.

“With the UK hosting the Olympics this year it’s a great chance to show students how their academic skills and interests can be relevant to a real-life event that everyone will be watching and following around the world. The theme of sport and the Olympics is also aimed at inspiring them about the pay-offs of hard-work, motivation and dedication, and teamwork.

“We also hope that their visit to Oxford will leave them with the message that they should begin working hard now and thinking about the subjects that inspire them so that as many doors as possible will be open to them in the future.”

Throughout the day and overnight activities, the visiting pupils will be working with current Oxford students giving them a behind-the-scenes look at life in an Oxford college, answering questions about applying and studying at the university and assisting them with the research for their projects.

Mark Johnson is a first-year student studying medicine at Oriel and is a Student Ambassador volunteer, taking part in the event. He says: “As a Student Ambassador I work with a variety of groups of students, and they will often arrive at Oxford with huge misperceptions and why wouldn’t they? Until you’ve been here, it’s hard to know what to expect.

“It’s really important to address these and to show the pupils the reality. Students here are committed to learning, and most of them did very well at school– that’s why Oxford is so competitive to get into. Although that means that students here may be up ‘til 2am writing an essay, they’re just as likely to be up at 2am socialising with their friends. Oxford is a university that wants to attract people from a wide variety of backgrounds and with lots of different interests – as long as they’re really bright and committed to their subject. You will be able to find someone from every community, background and culture at this university, from across the whole of the UK and the world. It’s a fabulous place to get to know so many different people!

“I have no doubt that some students are put off applying here due to misconceptions that they may have about our university. But I also have no doubt that those misconceptions are shed completely by students who come on an open day or outreach event. I came to Oxford on my first open day not knowing what to expect. I’m finishing my first year knowing exactly what students should expect: To get an amazing education, surrounded by great people, in a great location with a great social life too.”