Humphry Davy Prize

Year 10 and Year 12 Competition


The Humphry Davy Essay Competition is being launched this year as part of the Ogden Physics S3 Partnership. The Ogden Trust is a charity which has a core aim of promoting the subject of physics along with projects related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Physics S3 charity is collaborating in this partnership by providing up to twenty training courses this year for teachers and technicians of physics in any school in Cornwall.

Eligible Students for the Essay Competition

For this inaugural year, the Humphry Davy Essay Competition is open only to students from the Ogden Physics S3 Partnership Schools: Camborne Science & International Academy, Falmouth School, Humphry Davy School, Penair School, Richard Lander School and Truro School. There are two age group categories:

Year 10 GCSE Science and Physics students
Year 12 AS Physics students
Criteria for the Humphry Davy Essay

The main body of the essay (excluding references) should be no more than 2000 words. The essay can cover any topic related to Cornish science and technology: it may be based on historical or current developments; it may be written in answer to a question or to settle an argument, to discuss a controversial issue or to celebrate a Cornish scientist. It may also be based on student work that has already begun at school. Although the essay must be the independent work of the student, the research is expected to draw on a range of sources of information.

Students should create their own title, which may be a question or a statement. This title should then guide their research questions which will lead to consulting a range of information sources including books and journals. Websites are allowed, but references must also be included, along with the dates when they were accessed.

The criteria for judging the essay will include an assessment of:

1. the quality of research, including the range of information sources;
2. the clarity of references, with an indication of which reference provided which piece of information, and a reference summary of all sources of information at the end of the essay;
3. critical thinking, analysis and evaluation and the use of balanced arguments;
4. the quality of conclusions summarised and linked to the original title of the essay;
5. the clarity of overall communication, including any necessary and relevant explanation of science principles.
– See more here

Submitting the Essay

Students must use the electronic essay pro forma provided (a copy appears below). The essay must be written in Microsoft Word and emailed as an attachment to:, using the email title Humphry Davy Essay Competition 2015. The Microsoft Word document should be saved as “Student Name Essay Competition 2015” to make it easy to identify.

Deadline: Friday 8 May

Judging the Essays

The essays will be checked electronically for plagiarism and read by teachers from the schools involved. The five criteria described above are used to help judge the essay. The main body of the essay (excluding references) must be no longer than the 2000 word limit.

For each age category, the essays are read by teachers from the participating schools and put in an initial rank order. The top 5 finalists from each age category are agreed by all the teachers. The essays of the top 5 finalists in each age category are then given to an independent adjudicator. The top 5 finalists in each age category are notified and asked to prepare a 5 minute presentation on their essay. The essay and this presentation will be used to help judge the final winners in each age category.

Award of the Essay Prizes, Wednesday 24 June

On Wednesday 24 June, Truro School will host a presentation lunch; all students that submitted essays will be invited with at least one teacher from their participating school.

The presentation begins in the Truro School Burrell Theatre, where the top 5 finalists from each age category give a 5 minute talk summarising their essay. Lunch will then be provided. After lunch, the independent adjudicator will give a brief speech before announcing the winners of each age category.

The 5 finalists in each age category each receive a certificate. Each winner receives a personalised plaque, a £20 book token and a trophy, which will be displayed by their school for a year.

Essay Electronic Pro Forma

There is a separate Microsoft Word document, which must be completed and used to write the essay. A copy of the layout appears below:

Download the Essay Electronic Pro Forma (Word)

On behalf of the Ogden Physics S3 Cornwall Partnership, I would to thank you and your teachers in advance for participating in what will be the first year of an annual essay competition.

Nick Fisher
Deputy Headmaster, Truro School