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Rewrite the Headlines: Special subject prizes

by on 2016/02/17

Over the last few weeks we have been showcasing the top entries in both the school and undergraduate categories of our Rewrite the Headlines competition (full list of winners here). We continue with the primary school winners of the special subject prizes: St Francis of Assisi Primary RC School, Glasgow, and St Joseph’s Primary School, Glasgow.

First to St Francis of Assisi Primary RC School: Winners of the Physics subject prize.

The children at St Francis of Assisi Primary RC School changed the headline ‘White House is preparing for catastrophic solar flares which could wipe out power around the world for months – bringing an end to modern civilization as we know it’, which they had read in the Daily Mail, to ‘12% chance that a large solar flare could hit Earth – The White House is taking notice’.

Here is the children’s explanation for this change in the headline:

We think that this is a much more balanced title that tells people what they need to know and it’s a lot more honest. It gives the public the statistics instead of making it out to be 100% and a massive deal. The solar flare only has an estimated 12% chance of hitting Earth so they are basically stretching the truth a lot and it would be very unlucky if the solar flare actually hits earth. The newspaper blew it out of proportion and we don’t think even if it does hit us it wouldn’t end civilization as we know it.

The judges felt this was a strong entry because the pupils had understood the concept of risk and had been much more specific in their headline of the actual chance of this happening. Well done St. Francis of Assisi Primary for winning the special prize for physics!

Now to St Joseph’s Primary School, Glasgow: Winners of the Life Sciences subject prize.  

The children at  St. Joseph’s Primary changed the headline ‘Forget the gym: Scientists discover a hormone that gives you the same benefits as exercise without breaking a sweat’, which they had read in the Daily Mail, to ‘Scientists discover hormone in the fight against diabetes’.

Here is the children’s explanation for this change in the headline:

After looking at stories the children had gathered from newspapers and the internet we decided to rewrite the headline of this story. This story in the Daily Mail promises effortless weight loss, the answer to overeating and lack of exercise. It promises that is you take a pill and you won’t get fat or need to exercise to keep strong and healthy. We decided that this story did not truly report the findings of the research and that it was misleading as the only clinical trials had been carried out on mice. We thought that the most significant finding reported was a quote from a researcher at the university which conducted the research that it might help in the treatment of age related diseases such as diabetes. Unfortunately we were unable to find the research as there was no link to it in the article.

The judges felt this was a strong entry because the pupils had noticed that the study had been conducted with animals and hadn’t included the researcher’s own reference to the implications for diabetes. Well done St. Joseph’s Primary for winning the special life sciences prize!


The Rewrite the Headlines competition was supported by funding from the British Academy, with additional funding from the University of Strathclyde. The subject prizes were sponsored by the University of Dundee School of Life Sciences, and the Particle Physics Experiment Research Group at the University of Edinburgh.

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Prizes were supported by the British Academy, the University of Strathclyde, the School of Chemistry at the University of St. Andrews, the School of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde, the University of Dundee School of Life Sciences, and the Particle Physics Experiment Research Group at the University of Edinburgh, the Social Research Association, the Scottish History Society, and Palgrave Macmillan.

Competition details can be accessed at https://researchtheheadlines.org/rewritetheheadlines, and the full list of winners is available here.

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