Friday Highlights: Med Sci, IR, and Asking “How Round is your Circle?”

The sun returned to Oxford today – just in time for some fantastic adventures around the city and countryside!

International Relations took advantage of the day to visit the birth place of Winston Churchill and the current residence of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.  From Wikipedia

Blenheim Palace is a monumental country house situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England. It is the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, and the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. The palace, one of England’s largest houses, was built between 1705 and circa 1722. Blenheim Palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.[2]

The building of the palace was originally intended to be a reward to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, from a grateful nation for the duke’s military triumphs against the French and Bavarians during the War of the Spanish Succession, culminating in the 1704 Battle of Blenheim. However, soon after its construction began, the palace became the subject of political infighting; this led to Marlborough’s exile, the fall from power of his duchess, and lasting damage to the reputation of the architect Sir John Vanbrugh.

Designed in the rare, and short-lived, English Baroque style, architectural appreciation of the palace is as divided today as it was in the 1720s.[3] It is unique in its combined use as a family home, mausoleum and national monument. The palace is also notable as the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill.

Following the palace’s completion, it became the home of the Churchill, later Spencer-Churchill, family for the next 300 years, and various members of the family have wrought changes to the interiors, park and gardens. At the end of the 19th century, the palace was saved from ruin by funds gained from the 9th Duke of Marlborough’s marriage to American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. The exterior of the palace remains in good repair.

Our International Relations students enjoyed the touring through this influential place.

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Meanwhile, back on campus, our Medical Science major had a guest speaker demonstrate a microfluidics device used to research bacterial movement. The minor Med Sci course headed to the History of Science Museum to look at old anatomical training models and surgical tools. They even saw Einstein’s writing on a blackboard!

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The afternoon brought about a presentation from guest speaker, Dr. Chris Sangwin, entitled “How round is your circle?”

Dr. Christopher Sangwin is Professor of Technology Enhanced Science Education at the University of Edinburgh. A leading figure in mathematics education in the UK, Prof. Sangwin held Senior Lectureships at Birmingham and Loughborough Universities before joining the faculty at Edinburgh. For over a decade he worked with the UK Higher Education Academy to promote the learning and teaching of university mathematics. His research and teaching interests include the automatic assessment of mathematics using computer algebra, and, in particular, the development of the STACK system, as well as problem solving using the Moore Method and similar student-centered approaches. He in is the author of a number of books, including How Round is Your Circle?, which illustrates and investigates the links between mathematics and engineering using physical models.

Each year that he presents to our OxPrep students, they always leave amazed and impressed!

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