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    HEC 2009 - They made a splash!

    Posted 10 July 2009

    The challenge in the Students Union

    From flying hawks to identifying cattle fertilisation kit, and getting careers advice to hearing celebrity shark tales, 370-plus teenagers had a whale of a time when they Made a Splash at HEC 2009.

    Wildlife presenter and vet Steve Leonard opened the event, Higher Education Choices, which gives 16-18 year olds a chance to sample university life by staying in halls of residence, going to lectures, doing hands-on activities, completing student union challenges, having a party and making new friends. This year’s 370-plus delegates made up yet another record crowd for HEC, now in its 22nd year.

    The biggest aim of the two-day event is to help prospective students find the right course, which Steve says is crucial to a successful university career.

    “The great thing about higher education is that can forget a lot of the things you’re not really interested in,” he said in his opening address. “You’re finished with those subjects, you’ve had a good grounding in them and now you can focus on doing what really gives you a buzz.

    “The one thing that I really want to enforce is that learning something that you enjoy is easy. If you all told me your favourite band and your favourite song, you could tell me all the lyrics to that song. You didn’t ‘learn’ it; you just picked it up because you enjoy it.

    “And that is why, when you go out and talk to all these people this afternoon, and you look at the different courses, you should pick a course that you are interested in, not a course that your mate’s interested in. Because if you find something that you really enjoy, you’ll be able learn it.”

    And there was certainly plenty to enjoy and learn from. During the first morning sessions, the teenagers met hawks and ferrets, went off-roading and learned all about Harper life from a hard-working team of student ambassadors.

    A career fair brought together all the Harper Adams departments, plus a range of other land-based colleges, to point prospective students in the right direction. Lectures tested the true-extent of each teenager’s commitment to a particular subject, and the hands-on activities gave them plenty to talk about.

    They simulated destruction,investigated dairy cow fertility, learned to dress animal wounds, met the creatures at the small animals house, fired ice missiles across the engineering track, and much more.
    And when it came to Making a Splash, the theme of this year’s event, the rain failed to keep them down and some even took advantage of the Harper’s open air swimming pool. After a quick dip it was time to get painted up in their Hall’s colours and enter the serious rivalry of the SU Challenge.

    All that, and they still had the energy to party in the bar until midnight!

    For a gallery of photos, see


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