On Thursday, after a busy morning of lessons, students had the chance to pick up some new skills and explore a few interesting careers and areas, as the much-anticipated Insight Masterclasses arrived in Balliol.
In the theatre workshop, students unshackled their creative faculties to try their hand at some improvisational exercises. Once they had enough confidence, they chose a speech from TV and film to deliver to the rest of the class. Many were quite shy at the start of the workshop, and the progress they made was very heartening.
In the CSI workshop, students were called upon to use their imaginations in a rather different way: they were attempting to get inside the heads of murderers, piecing together dozens of little details to amass the evidence needed to work out what had happened at a crime scene. After some heated discussion in groups as to the identity of the murderer –with most agreeing that there was insufficient evidence to convict, though some nonetheless urged that justice, though dubious, should be served forthwith— students were introduced to the details of several famous cases, among them the celebrated Oscar Pistorius trial.
Some students, when confronted with the sight of a crime scene, covered their eyes; others, in a different workshop, recoiled from spiders and snakes. In the Zoolab workshop, a medley of different animals were held and examined by students, among them a stick insect of truly impressive proportions.
The stock market challenge, meanwhile, was a hectic affair. Students took on the roles of stock brokers on the trading floor of the Balliol Common Room, paying close attention to trade updates from a virtual world, and making frantic adjustments to trading policy. Heads were in hands, elated fists were pumped into the air, more sprinting occurred than might have been expected: it was exhilarating, and it was hardly surprising to find that students were rather tired afterwards. More sedate was the coding workshop, in which students learnt the fundamentals of basic coding, using a simple language to create software that could measure their step count in the manner of exercise watches.
In the evening there was supper, free time, and the chance to make tie-dye t-shirts and flower crowns ready for the English Festival-themed party tonight. We can’t wait!