The Challenges & Rewards of the 2023 NHEHS/Harrow Symposium for Year 10
On November 30th we celebrated the final presentations of both Harrow and NHEHS students of their collaborative research projects from a variety of subject areas around the theme of Lions and Unicorns. Here’s what two of our Year 10 students learned from the experience.
By Tessa W, Year 10
The Harrow Symposium was an incredibly interesting and challenging collaboration between Notting Hill and Harrow School.
We were placed in groups of four with two Harrow boys we had never met before and given a task that seemed extremely daunting at first: creating a 1000-word article and 6-minute presentation on a subject we had no prior knowledge about over a two-month period. On the first day that we met, we were given our questions to research, mine being one with a focus on Ancient History – ‘To what extent can the figure of Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh be considered a proto-unicorn? Are there any better contenders?’ As I had almost no prior knowledge of any of the points it addressed, I had no idea how to approach the question, and was worried that we would not be able to gather enough information about it or format it appropriately. However, over the course of the project, I was able to learn a significant amount about my topic and found it very engaging.
The other members of my group were also very helpful and we collaborated really well together. The most valuable thing that I gained from the experience, though, was not my knowledge on the subject but the ability to look at a piece of work that I had put a lot of effort into from an objective perspective in order to improve it; for my group, a big struggle was expressing our knowledge in the format of a presentation. As our topic was dense, we realised that we had to cut out a lot of our content that was not strictly necessary and figure out how to explain it so that anyone could understand what we were talking about. Thanks to this, I have gained a lot of knowledge about public speaking and making difficult and convoluted subjects accessible to anyone.
Overall, the Symposium was a worthwhile and enriching experience that I enjoyed very much. I’m sure it’s taught me many skills that will be applicable elsewhere, but even if they aren’t, it was a rewarding experience. The essay and presentation at the end of the project were the high points of the experience as they showcased the culmination of everyone’s hard work
By Sophie C, Year 10
The Harrow Symposium was a continuously stimulating project where I learned so much and met some really wonderful people.
My group addressed the question ‘What does Sunak mean, and to what extent is he justified, in referring to the UK as the “Unicorn Kingdom”?’ and we focused on economics. While at first I was worried that I wouldn’t comprehend the topic and that it would be hard to cooperate well with the Harrow boys, I soon discovered that this was not the case. It was really easy to get stuck into what we were doing and throughout the whole project, we had an academically rigorous environment, producing high-quality results. The only problem we struggled with throughout the project was that of ‘killing our darlings,’ as Ms Copin termed it, as we had months worth of research being condensed into a short article and presentation. We were so passionate about our subjects that we found we often wrote too much; however, we overcame this challenge by writing many drafts and then cutting them down and also by timing ourselves saying them out loud so that we could make sure we were including only points that were relevant to the topic.
Overall, the Harrow Symposium was an incredibly positive experience, particularly when we got to presentation night, because we got to see how not only our hard work had finally come together, but also all of our peers. Seeing how much everyone had progressed was astounding and was a perfect end to this experience.