Our Lady of Sion School student Blaise Cloran was the only national finalist from Sussex at the The Big Bang Fair 2017.

Blaise, from year nine, was also the only Sussex student to achieve a week’s stay to study biochemistry at Oxford this summer and a NASA science camp in America for five days in the summer holidays. Helen Davis, assistant head (academic), said: “She did not win one of the major prizes but she did get a gold medal and a gold crest award. These are a fantastic achievement for a 13-year-old. “All of these events have been supported by the school but she has earned her place through merit alone. They are not places gained by a paid-for-place in any of these examples. “Blaise has achieved all this through her own determination – her parents are not scientists. She is a fantastic role model for girls in science, something the nation sadly lacks.”

Blaise said being selected for The Big Bang Fair at Birmingham NEC and representing Our Lady of Sion School was a truly amazing experience. “I showcased and competed with my project, A Quicker More Efficient Method of Diagnosis for Hepatitis.

My project used an ELISA test combined with silk fibroin to create a cheap, under-two-hour diagnosis method that can be transported without refrigeration. It uses hepatitis to demonstrate how the process works but it could be applied to any disease.

“I went up to the NEC at Birmingham and stayed for four days. On the first day, all 600 finalists went to a welcome ceremony, where we listened to talks from well-known scientists, such as Greg Foot, and were given information about the next few days. It was quite nerve-racking to be the only student from the whole of Sussex but the familiar scientific environment engrossed me and I soon felt at home. “On the Wednesday, the show was opened to the public and my day consisted of lots of judging. Judges would come round in groups of two or four and would listen and examine my project, which was displayed on a stand. I really enjoyed talking to people who were interested in my project and the questioning members of the public were good practice before I talked to the judges. “There were also many other stands at the fair such as JCB, SeaWorld, Airbus, Rolls Royce, many universities and, of course, other competitors. I learned lots from looking round and talking to those who occupied stands. Shows and experiments would go all day, which added to the all excitement. “The next day, the award ceremony was held and I was lucky enough to win a medal and a gold crest award. I felt honoured and I know I will definitely be trying to attend next year. “Later this summer, I will be attending an Oxbridge course in biochemistry that I had to pass a round of Skype interviews to gain a place at, followed by a NASA camp in America. I was lucky enough to get into both of these and can’t wait to attend them. “I was interviewed for the Oxbridge course and got confirmed a place to study biochemistry at Oxford for a week. I am extremely excited to see what life is like at the university and experience studying at a higher level.”

Well done Blaise