9 AUGUST 2019
Taking in coding at Cambridge and a cultural tour of London, our 2019 European enrichment trip featured a five-day Tech Camp at Cambridge University, with a stay in London and visits to the Tower of London, The National Gallery, Imperial College, the Science Museum and The School of Rock.
Discovering a historic city
Our first day in Cambridge began in classic style with a private punt tour, giving us a perfect introduction to Cambridge’s eventful history. Our punt chauffeur explained how the city evolved from a medieval market town to its status today as a world-class centre of academic excellence. Because punting takes place at such a relaxed pace, it gave us time to enjoy spectacular views, from the gothic splendour of King’s College to the classical elegance of Clare College — both of which we’d be visiting on this trip. After a spot of lunch, we strolled through the city to enjoy an afternoon snack of world-famous, ultra-sticky Chelsea buns from Fitzbillies — the cake shop of choice for the university and townsfolk since the 1920s. Fuelled by Chelsea buns, we spent the afternoon touring the City and King’s College. Founded by King Henry VI in 1441, King’s College is one of 31 constituent Colleges that make up the University of Cambridge — but, along with its worldfamous Chapel, it’s one of the oldest and most iconic. We also explored the Cambridge Backs — which refers to the row of Colleges which back onto the river Cam — a picturesque walk with scenery that is said to be one of the top 10 views in England.
I felt very lucky to explore somewhere with as much history as Cambridge. It was everywhere we looked.
We walked through cobbled streets and ancient alleyways to explore the heart of Cambridge University, including the old Cavendish Laboratory where the structure of DNA was discovered in 1953. We saw the bizarre Corpus Clock, visited the historic Old Schools buildings and the beautiful Senate House, which hosts graduation ceremonies. Our enlightening afternoon tour was the perfect beginning for the highlight of our Cambridge experience — the Tech Camp at Clare College. Founded in 1326, Clare College is the second-oldest surviving college of the university, and it would be home to our Dart Scholars during their Tech Camp.
Time for Tech Camp
The Tech Camp course for our students was an Introduction to Coding for Machine Learning. Coding skills are among the most in-demand skills in today’s job markets, so the course is designed to give students an introduction to computational thinking, and to see how their coding knowledge can be applied to the field of machine learning. Our Dart Scholars started with logic games and Python — one of the fastest growing, most versatile programming languages available — moving into object-oriented concepts. As our students’ understanding of coding improved, they started to explore creating basic neural networks — exercises that map the future of coding, and which prepare them for more advanced machine learning courses. Each of our Dart Scholars completed the Tech Camp course having learnt to code with Python, created a basic neural network and gained a grounding in computational thinking skills.
Tech Camp was incredible. I got the chance to learn new skills and immediately put them to work.
Better still, each Dart Scholar got to experience Cambridge University student life and dormitory living, a unique and vital aspect of their enrichment trip. It was also the perfect end to our stay in Cambridge, as we began the next phase of our trip in London.
Exploring the sights of London
Waking up in London on day seven, we took a sightseeing tour on a London double decker bus — a classic way to view the capital’s famous landmarks and attractions. Later in the day, we gave the students the chance to choose the London activities they wanted to do as a group. There were plenty of choices, from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Imperial War Museum and Buckingham Palace to the Tate Modern, London Eye and V&A Museum of Art and Design — or even a Thames River cruise. The choices were endless — as was the discussion about which activities to do! After our first full day of exploring London, we went for dinner in the evening with Kirstin Ebanks and Julian Solomon, both Dart Scholar Alumnus studying for their degrees in London. It was a brilliant chance for our scholars to meet Kirstin and Julian, who spoke about the many opportunities that have opened up to them through the Dart Scholar programme.
Browsing the capital’s most precious collections
Day eight, and our second full day in the capital, we took a tour to see the Tower of London and Crown Jewels. A powerful symbol of British heritage and tradition, the Tower of London is one of the world’s most famous fortresses, and served over time as a royal palace, royal mint, public records office, prison, execution site, armoury and even as a zoo. Playing an important role in English history, the Tower of London was besieged many times, and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. Today, it’s a major tourist attraction, and home to the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, which the Beefeaters guard night and day. In the afternoon, we went to The National Gallery on Trafalgar Square. Founded in 1824, The National Gallery has a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900, and is one the most visited art museums in the world. Our students saw paintings that included works by Seurat, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Raphael, Michelangelo, Turner and Monet. Later we explored Trafalgar Square itself, one of the most iconic public squares in London, with its famous column bearing the statue of Admiral Nelson to commemorate victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
I've always wanted to visit London. We got to explore so many different things, both educational and a lot of fun.
No visit to London is complete without seeing a West End show, so in the evening, we went to Gillian Lynne Theatre to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock: the Musical. As you might guess, it’s a musical based on the hit film of the same name, featuring songs written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Our Dart Scholars loved this new version of the story, seeing how wannabe rock star Dewey Finn turns his bookish straight-A pupils into a guitar-shredding, mind-blowing rock band.
Final farewell to London
Day nine and our Dart Scholars headed on a tour of Imperial College in Central London, with a special visit to its engineering and medical biosciences facilities. Ranked among the best universities in the world, Imperial College is known for its excellence in science, engineering, medicine and business. Our tour took in many of the university’s world-class facilities, including its state-of-the-art Ethos Sports Centre and Central Library. After our tour, we strolled around the corner to the home of human ingenuity London’s Science Museum. Our students were keen to explore its exciting exhibits and artefacts, as well as visit one of the world’s largest IMAX Theatres, where we saw A Beautiful Planet 3D. We also got to see two special exhibits, one called Driverless: Who Is In Control? about the future of AI-driven technology, and Space Descent VR with Tim Peake, an immersive 360-degree virtual reality trip through space, guided by the world-famous astronaut. It was a thrilling end to our time in London and the final part of our European Enrichment Trip. As we sat together in the evening before we flew back home, our students reflected on their amazing experiences — absorbing rich and ancient histories, being immersed in outstanding academic cultures, learning new technologies and programming techniques — as well as enjoying fun, stimulating and exciting times travelling with friends. A true enrichment trip.
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