Somersfield holds What Matters conference

  • Nylan Tyrrell, 10, spoke to the benefit of childhood sports participation at the annual What Matters conference, hosted online by Somersfield Academy. (Photograph supplied)

    Nylan Tyrrell, 10, spoke to the benefit of childhood sports participation at the annual What Matters conference, hosted online by Somersfield Academy. (Photograph supplied)

  • Reeve Johnston, 11, demonstrated why chimpanzees should be given legal personhood during the annual What Matters conference, hosted online by Somersfield Academy. His advocacy was also featured by the animal rights groups Save the Chimps and the Nonhuman Right Project. (Photograph supplied)

    Reeve Johnston, 11, demonstrated why chimpanzees should be given legal personhood during the annual What Matters conference, hosted online by Somersfield Academy. His advocacy was also featured by the animal rights groups Save the Chimps and the Nonhuman Right Project. (Photograph supplied)

  • Zoe Mir, 10, gave an analysis on the study of exoplanets during the annual What Matters conference, hosted online by Somersfield Academy. (Photograph supplied)

    Zoe Mir, 10, gave an analysis on the study of exoplanets during the annual What Matters conference, hosted online by Somersfield Academy. (Photograph supplied)


Animal rights, healthy living and life on other planets were all topics that Somersfield Academy pupils touched on for their annual What Matters conference.

Primary school-aged pupils present in-depth research projects in an online forum as part of the event.

Reeve Johnston put together a presentation that advocated for chimpanzees to have the same rights as humans.

The 11-year-old’s effort was highlighted by two animal rights groups, the Nonhuman Rights Project and the Save the Chimps sanctuary.

Reeve said: “I felt astonished and proud when they said they were going to put me on their blog.

“That gave me a boost of confidence to keep going at my research.”

He added: “Chimps think like humans, they can remember yesterday and today.

“They’ve got a very good memory and not many animals share that with us, so I think that they deserve the same rights as us.”

Reeve, from Devonshire, said that he had been interested in chimpanzee conservation for about three years after he witnessed the animals being mistreated at a zoo.

He said that his research relied on interviews with the directors of Save the Chimps, located in Florida, and the NHRP, which hopes to change the legal status of intelligent animals from property to personhood.

Reeve added that he set up a donation page and plans to raise $3,000 for Save the Chimps by the end of June.

The pupils started their projects in January and did their research during their online schooling.

They presented their projects online last Wednesday and held a Q&A the following day.

Zoe Mir, 10, focused on exoplanets — planets outside of our solar system — and how their research could help the human race as a whole.

She explained: “Eventually we’re going to have to travel to an exoplanet, so studying them helps us find exoplanets to eventually travel to.

“Studying exoplanets can help get more people interested in science and when they get more interested in science they may be more likely to put money into scientific research.”

Zoe, from St George’s, focused on how astronomers found and studied exoplanets, as well as the importance of their research.

She said that the most interesting part of her research was learning that some planets would rain acid or molten diamonds instead of water. She hopes to continue her studies as an adult.

“Studying exoplanets helps other kinds of scientific research instead of just astronomy — it can help us study biology, engineering and things like that.”

Nylan Tyrrell, also 10, held a presentation on how sports participation at a young age can help children make healthy life choices when they are older and can have an impact on mental and physical wellbeing.

He added: “I also wanted to inspire adults to get their children involved in sports and maybe when they become adults they’ll get their children into sports.”

Nylan, from Warwick, said that he spoke to friends about the positive effects that sports had on them, as well as with doctors about the health benefits.

He added he learnt that people who were involved with teams sports were happier than those who played solitary sports.

Nylan said: “I sometimes feel that myself — sometimes when I play with friends I feel happier.”

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Published Jun 16, 2020 at 11:19 am (Updated Jun 16, 2020 at 11:19 am)

Somersfield holds What Matters conference

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