Abbey Grange CE Academy has spent a day debating God and the Big Bang, with the help of eminent scientists, gigantic bubbles and fire.
For the second year running, the school hosted the day conference for 90 students in Year 10 to help them discover and debate the interaction of science and faith.
In hands-on sessions with academics from universities all over the UK, they explored a range of topics, from the forces inside stars to the chemistry of bubbles.
Some of the students' comments were: "‘I thought you could only believe in science or religion, now I know they go side by side"; "We had a chance to ask questions we wouldn’t normally ask", and, "The speakers were energetic and engaging - the day has really supported my faith".
School Chaplain Kay Brown says, "With the help of fast-moving, interactive presentations, students looked at areas like 'Particles and Nanoscience - how our understanding of matter is fundamental to how we understand the world' and ‘Ethics and Science: how do we make decisions?’ as well as lots of practical fun around bubbles and cola with Mentos!"
Speakers included Tom McLeish, Professor of Physics at the University of Durham, materials scientist Dr Jona Foster; astrophysicist George Hawker, who is in his fourth year at Cambridge, Naomi Brehm, a physics student from Durham; and Stephanie Bryant, Cambridge Natural Sciences graduate and God and the Big Bang’s project coordinator.
Kay adds, "The students were really buzzing by the end of the day. The Q+A session showed the depth of their thinking and proved a fantastic opportunity for them to hear from people who have spent serious amounts of time thinking about science and faith.
"There was an added bonus for three students who got a copy of Tom McLeish’s new book, ‘Let there be science!’ for asking such searching questions as ‘why didn’t God just make us theist?’ to exploring whether Jesus may have come to other planets as well as our own.
"I’d really recommend this for other high schools to build bridges across the curriculum".
God and the Big Bang is an initiative of the Church of England in collaboration with the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Christians in Science, and Reading University’s Institute of Education.
Revd Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer at the Church of England says, 'I highly recommend the conference as a means of engaging students with world-class scientists who have found that science brings them a greater appreciation of God's creation".
Contact: kbrown [at] abbeygrangeacademy.co.uk (Kay Brown) and Stephanie Bryant (0161 828 1407 Website: www.gatbb.co.uk)