Fourteen sixth form students from Newport Girls’ High School, Adams’ Grammar School, both in Newport and Cardinal Griffin Catholic College in Cannock, have achieved Gold CREST awards following summer research placements at Harper Adams University.
Adam Bradley, Simran Thiara, Rachael Hutson-Lumb, Jess Rapinett, Nathan Gulliver, Molly Jackman, Michael Cooper, Fiona Clark, Sanjana Murali, Alex Ecclestone, Harriet Thompson, Rob Young, Suyesh Amatya and Karl Francis worked on a variety of projects at Harper Adams during their summer holiday from school. The projects were mentored by STEM ambassadors at the University and covered a range of scientific topics, including microbiology, soil science and entomology as well as engineering and veterinary science.
To achieve the award, participants completed a 70 hour research project, including submission of a scientific report along with a ten minute presentation explaining their methodology and findings. The presentations were given at a colloquium held at Harper Adams in September which was chaired by Ellie Jackson-Smith, a successful CREST student from 2016.
Pupils hope that completing the British Science Association CREST award scheme will enhance their personal statements when they apply to university.
Newport Girls’ High School student Harriet Thompson, 17, who completed a project entitled: ‘Investigation into the physiological and genetic mechanisms of resistance in Lactuca sativa (lettuce) against Myzus persicae (peach-potato aphid)’, said: “I’ve really enjoyed doing my Gold CREST Award. When I first heard about the project, it wasn’t the first title that I was drawn to but once I’d gone through it with my mentor I was more interested.
“At first, sticking things on aphids doesn’t seem that exciting, but when you’re getting your results in and looking at the graphs it’s an amazing feeling and so much fun.
“I learnt a lot from the project, I’d go home and be in the greenhouse with my dad explaining what was happening to the tomato plants.”
Harriet plans to go to university and study medicine. She said the experience of completing her Gold CREST Award has helped prepare her for studying at university. “It’s been really good to come to the Harper Adams University campus and use the library and be able to use equipment that you couldn’t necessarily be able to use at school and learning new skills which will be really useful when I do go to university,” she said. “It’s taught me how to do things, such as further reading, which I can bring into my research and experiments.”
Adams’ Grammar School student Michael Cooper, 18, said: “It’s been very useful for me to come to Harper Adams and complete this project. It’s given me some insight into how what I learn in lessons, such as chemistry, can be used in the real world.
“It’s also helped me feel more sure about what career I want to have in the future, which is to be an analytical chemist, maybe going into nutrition or linked to sport in some way as that’s one of my passions outside of school.
“My Gold CREST project was called: ‘Comparison of alternative methods for determining the amount of vitamin C within a variety of fruit and vegetable samples’, which I never thought I could link to sport. I learnt that it can be by linking it to food, and then to nutrition which goes back to sport.
“It takes 70 hours to complete this scheme, which once you’ve got started doesn’t feel like a long time. It’s also incredibly useful. Adding it to a UCAS application demonstrates passion, which a lot of students can’t show. You also learn transferable skills which will be incredibly useful in further study and a career in the sciences.”
A pupil from Burton Borough School in Newport also completed a silver CREST award looking at characteristics of soil during her work experience week and is waiting to hear whether she has been successful with her submission.