Harper Adams University has hosted its fourth annual CREST awards colloquium.
Twelve pupils from Haberdashers Adams’ Grammar, Newport Girls’ High, Thomas Telford and Haberdashers Abraham Darby sixth forms attended and delivered spoken presentations summarising the research projects they had worked on for their British Science Association’s Gold CREST awards.
The colloquium was chaired by two students who completed their projects in 2017 and have since been successful at gaining places at their universities of choice.
The Gold award, the highest level of the CREST award scheme, requires participants to complete a 70 hour research project and give a 10 minute spoken presentation following their investigation.
Skye Johnson, 17, from Haberdashers' Abraham Darby was one of the students to complete her project during her summer holidays. She worked on a soil project, linked to a ten year investigation running at Harper to look into the effects of farm traffic and tillage on soil nutrients.
She said: “I was a bit nervous working on an established university project at first as obviously I’ve not done it before. I’ve always been a shy person but I like to throw myself into situations that I know I can’t get out of, so I can learn from them and achieve something.
“It’s been a real learning curve; I didn’t know originally why everything I was looking at was important for soils. We’d done the nitrogen cycle in school, so I knew nitrogen needs to be converted into nitrates for plants. It was interesting to learn how traffic or tillage is having an effect on the amount of nitrogen in the soil, as it’ll have an effect on the crop yield.
“We obviously do experiments at school but they’re more basic than what I’ve been able to do at Harper. It’s nice to see what I’m capable of. At school we complete set experiments, while for my CREST project it was ‘we could do this’ or ‘we could do that’ and I was able to decide what I wanted to look at.
“I had quite a few methods for the project as I was assessing dry matter, pH, carbon, nitrogen, magnesium and potassium in the soil samples.”
Skye is hoping to study zoology at university after completing her A-levels, a subject she’s recently discovered after originally looking at biology courses.
Other Gold projects covered a range of interests including microbiology, nutrition, animal behaviour, andrology and biochemistry.