IRIS London conference:

AI ball boys & girls, future hackers

& searching for wolf stars

August 2023

27 June 2023 – Young researchers from Belfast to Dover travelled to London to share their research with members of the scientific community and their peers.


The London conference saw almost 200 students come to present their research to their peers and members of the science community. Guests included Dame Kate Bingham, who chaired the UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce during the COVID-19 pandemic and Professor Alan Barr, Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Oxford.


With six student presentations and 54 research posters displayed across the venue, we were treated to a vast array of research topics. Research included studying the origins and evolution process of the rare Wolf-Rayet stars, new methods of proving the existence of the elusive Higgs Boson, and using innovative code hacking which impressed leading computer scientists.


Guests were also fortunate to witness some Original Research students demonstrating their AI robot ball boy/girl in the hallway. The robot was designed by year 12 students at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School to scan for and collects tennis balls. You can read more about this project here, Serving up success: students create AI robot ball boy.

Students from Tiffin Girls’ School present their research into proving the existence of the Higgs Boson

The event, held at the Friends House in Euston, provided a vibrant atmosphere where students, teachers, project partners and IRIS staff could mix and discuss STEM topics and the value that taking part in authentic research in school has for young people.


James Perkins, Head of Science at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham, emphasised at the event how important it is for young people to get the opportunity to take part in research. He said: “Well, it’s about the experience. We go and see plays, we go and listen to music, we go to sports matches. Those are all professional things that the kids aspire to do. So why wouldn’t you give them those experiences in the STEM arena? It’s exactly what we need in order to show what scientists actually do.”

It shows them that they can

literally do absolutely anything

that they want to do.

Brooke PorterMaths Teacher at Dover Grammar School for Girls

We also asked students attending the conference for their thoughts on doing research in school. Jan from Derby College told us that secondary school students could really benefit from doing real research: “For them to do it – it could massively improve their skills in data or confidence presenting the posters. So yeah, it would be quite good for them.”


And Stefanos from Derby College said: “I think it prepares them for when they have to do it in the real world because you’re not going to be doing projects like the ones you mainly do at school in the real world, you’re going to be doing projects like this.”


Brooke Porter, a maths teacher at Dover Grammar School for Girls told us: “I think it opens their eyes to opportunities that are out there in the real world. And it shows them that they could be an engineer or that they could go into aerospace engineering because they don’t always think about those options.

“It was really interesting to hear a speaker say earlier ‘I was going to do maths because I’m good at maths’ and they didn’t even think about all these other options. So I think it shows them, that they can literally do absolutely anything that they want to do.”

Students from Tiffin Girls’ School present their research into proving the existence of the Higgs Boson

The London conference was an incredible event, with students passionately exchanging ideas and mingling with members of the science fields. The calibre of research presented on stage and in the research posters was incredible and we cannot wait to see where each of these students go next and what they choose to dedicate their passion and curiosity to.


We are so proud of the innovation shown by all the students, and also so grateful to their teachers who made it possible – without their support and commitment, none of this would be possible.


Are you interested in signing up for a project? Take a look at what you could get involved in on our project page. Want to find out more about attending next year’s conference? Head over to our conference page.


IRIS Student Conferences 2023 video


Realise the potential of chemistry & contribute to a better world


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Secondary students attend lecture at Queen’s University Belfast.


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