PGS Extend is our celebration of the journey PGS Sixth Formers experience in carrying out their independent research projects.

When creativity is combined with resilience and resourcefulness, and the skills of research and evaluation, the most impressive human achievements emerge. The PGS Extend is our celebration of the journey PGS Sixth Formers experience in carrying out their independent research projects. In the summer of Year 12, pupils work alongside a supervisor to learn core skills, plan their assignment and identify appropriate sources and methods for their research. They complete projects independently over the summer and submit them on their return in Year 13. The best of this work is nominated by markers for the Ithaka Prize.

The annual Ithaka Celebration Evening once more showcased the range and remarkable abilities of our Sixth Form pupils. This year we were delighted to welcome Dr Alexandra Hildred from the Mary Rose Trust as our guest of honour to present the award. Dr Hildred is Head of Research and Curator of Ordnance and Human Remains at the Mary Rose Trust and initially joined the project in 1979 as a graduate archaeologist, celebrating 40 years with the Trust last year. She was part of the team who excavated Henry VIII’s warship forty years ago and her commitment to this iconic British museum is unrivalled.

It was Dr Hildred who had the pleasure to announce that the winner of the Ithaka Prize this year was Matt Bryan for his engineer's view of the Hour Record investigating if precious milli-seconds can be shaved using a disc wheel, including building his own disc wheel.

“As an aspiring engineer and keen cyclist, I wanted my project to be a fusion of my interests in theoretical modelling, practical making and bicycle pedalling,” said Matt. “To that extent, I produced what I hope is a comprehensive guide to cycling’s ‘purest race’, the limit of physical and technological performance when one rider and two wheels compete against only the clock - The Hour Record.

I researched and discussed the many eras of this century-old event, from Coppi to Merckx to Boardman to the present day, before creating my own mathematical model to predict what rider effort produces what record distance, and how cutting-edge technology can help to break the current 55.089km benchmark. The model takes power, drag, mass and altitude into consideration and is accurate to within 0.5% of real-world records.

However, I wanted to see how this theoretical model behaved off the track. So I crafted a set of disc wheel covers and collected my own data to see if their claimed wind-tunnel data held up against a statistical sample test. Overall, I enjoyed seeing the effectiveness of applied maths and physics, and this style of work is one I look forward to continuing next year as I hope to study Engineering at university.”

Congratulations to Matt and to all the other finalists and pupils who were highly-commended for their work.

FINALISTS Belonging, Sara Eftekhari A Review of Alternative Bone Grafting Materials in Spinal Surgery, Ed Campkin To what extent was the work of Mary Cassatt influenced by her exposure to foreign cultures and their art? Merlin Cross ‘Sixteen’ the EP: My Musical Montage of Being Sixteen, Miranda Gent What multiple linear regression equation best predicts the total healthcare expenditure in the UK? Chelsea Liu Human Rights, Relativism and Shamima Begum, Henry Day ‘Building a Coracle’, Corin Nelson-Smith HIGHLY COMMENDED Saskia Egeland-Jensen, Georgina Haslam, Sacha Hemingway, Rufus Hornsey, Anushka Kar, Lauren Johnstone, Robert Mitchell, Shapol Mohammed, Amanda Rees-Frometa, Toby Sambles, John Taylor, Georgina Wain