MEXBOROUGH School students have made history - by being the first British scholars to actually attend lectures while visiting Yale University.
Links were forged between Mexborough and the States’ third oldest university, as a result of contact between headteacher Mirjam Buhler-Willey and Mei Tan, a Yale lecturer.
An invitation extended to the school was accepted by eager staff and students, then the trip was made possible with financial help from the Me2 fund, and contributions from students’ families.
Last week the party of 17 students and two staff returned to Mexborough exhausted but happy, following five packed days in America.
Their stay included a full tour of the Yale campus, before they were invited to their first lecture.
Then the delivery of that session on Newton’s law of motion captured the attention of all students...
Emily Wright, 17, of Mexborough, said the group sat up in shock when the lecturer wheeled in on roller skates...brandishing a fire extinguisher!
She said: “There was practical demonstration in the lectures which was really good - it illustrated what was being said. For example, a lecturer climbed to different heights and dropped liquid to show the change in fall pattern”.
And Beth Curry, 17, remembered the ‘liquid nitrogen ice-cream’ that was handed out to students. “It was vanilla-tasting but with a strong kick to it”, she said.
The whole experience has inspired her to take a gap year after A-levels, “to hopefully see a few places and experience more”, said Emily, and several of the party were keen to try to apply for Yale after spending time there..
All the pupils had the chance to chat to Yale students, and enthused about the huge welcome they were given.
They were impressed with the ‘Hogwarts style’ lay out of the campus, and the close knit communities within the university’s several ‘houses’.
The second part of the trip took in New York - and involved a lot of walking!
“We went just about everywhere” said Beth, as they recalled visits to the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Natural History Museum, Hard Rock Café and the Rockefeller Centre, to name but a few.
And there were plenty of laughs along the way...
“We went for a meal in one restaurant and one of the girls just wanted something light, so she chose a barbecued ribs starter,” said Emily. “But when it came to the table it turned out to be a Fred Flintstone meal and was more like half a cow than a couple of ribs”!
There were poignant moments too, including a visit to Ground Zero where pupils witnessed the wall of names, of those who lost their lives in the disaster that stunned the world 10 years ago.
“It was a really good trip. All our Y13 pupils clearly enjoyed it and it was an experience they’ll never forget”, said assistant head Gill Gunnill, who accompanied the party along with vocational co-ordinator Phil Hallford.
Following their adventure, some students have forged friendships they hope will be lasting with Yale students they met on campus. Facebook messages have already been exchanged.
And they are to spread the benefit of their experience further afield, by producing work about the university that is classed as one of the best in the world.
Presentations will also be made to fellow pupils and staff, the school governors, and primary schools within the Mexborough ‘pyramid’.