Issue date: 19 April 2004

ISSUE DATE: 19/04/04

96 bright students with an aptitude for science from twelve Bristol schools will spend a day at the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the University of the West of England on Wednesday 21 April as part of ‘The Excellence Challenge’. Eight year 10 students from each school have been selected by their science teachers as those who particularly excel in and enjoy science subjects.

Schools taking part are Fairfield High School, Speedwell Technical College, Hartcliffe School, Whitefield Fishponds Community School, Bedminster Down School, Withywood Community School, Cotham School, Henbury School, Brislington School, St Bernadette’s School, St Bedes R.C School and the City Academy.

The pupils will get the chance to work in state of the art science laboratories in the recently refurbished Faculty and experience expert tuition in a university environment. Dr Stuart Shales who is helping to organise the event said, “This is the third year running that we have held these open days geared up to encourage bright young people to consider taking science beyond GCSE level. It gives the children a chance to experience a far greater range of possibilities and broadens understanding of the variety of careers that a science degree might open up for them.

“We have deliberately selected areas that the children will not have experienced such as forensic science, applications of molecular biology and working in a microbiology laboratory.”

The students will have a go at using forensics to identify fingerprints under the expert tuition of Dr Carolyn Morton who set up the recent and very popular course offered by UWE. They will also get a chance to isolate DNA from plants and fruit using molecular biology techniques in a practical session with Professor Steven Neil. In the microbiology laboratory Dr Vyv Salisbury will give a demonstration showing how bioluminescence can be used as a reporter system to check effectiveness of antibiotics. The students will also get small group demonstrations in the electron microscopy suite where they will see the fantastic observation capabilities of an expensive and sophisticated microscope.

Liz Banister, Deputy Head at Speedwell Technology College in Bristol is helping to co-ordinate the schools taking part in ‘The Excellence Challenge’. Liz said, “This day provides a brilliant opportunity for the students to get to grips with some of the wider applications of science subjects and to get to work with sophisticated and expensive equipment not available in schools. The topics covered relate directly to the curriculum students will be studying back at school, so improved achievement levels are an anticipated outcome. The students also benefit from the tuition by experts in their fields opening up insight to the potential that further study in science subjects can bring.”


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