Banbury students battle the bugs in Oxford science study day

Twenty-seven students from Futures Institute and Wykham Park Academy enjoyed an insight into science at Oxford University recently when they participated in the inaugural ‘Battle the Bugs’ event.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The initiative was developed by the Ineos Oxford Institute (IOI) for antimicrobial research and the Chemistry Teaching Laboratory (CTL) at the University of Oxford, in collaboration with the History of Science Museum, and Trinity College. It aims to extend the experience and understanding of laboratory work in the field of antimicrobial resistance to young people, and to showcase a variety of scientific careers.

The students included sixth form chemists as well as GCSE scientists in Years 10 and 11. In a day which comprised a range of activities, the youngsters enjoyed opportunities to interact with university scientists and researchers and learn more about the University of Oxford's work on life-saving medicines. They were also able to gain hands-on laboratory experience by synthesising their own antimicrobial compound.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A debate at the Ineos Oxford Institute on the science and politics of antibiotic resistance prompted lively conversations, while at the History of Science Museum, students learnt about past antibiotic discovery in Oxford, and examined the discovery of penicillin.

Hands on work in the labHands on work in the lab
Hands on work in the lab

“By making science accessible to students, we hope to demystify the work taking place in Oxford and excite students about further education and careers in science, “ explained Dr Helen Smith, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Ineos Oxford Institute.

The highlight for many of the aspiring scientists however, was the ‘Fight the Fungus’ lab session which saw them synthesise their own antifungals.

Year 10 Wykham Park student Liam claimed, “The best bit of the day was doing the experiments!” while Nicole, who is aiming for a career in science said, “ It was the explanation that brought the science museum display alive. I found the history of the development of penicillin very informative.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Organiser Dr Ana Wallis of the Department of Chemistry’s outreach team is hopeful the day will have captured the imaginations of those who took part:

Students me University scientists and researchersStudents me University scientists and researchers
Students me University scientists and researchers

“We hope this study day will inspire school students by giving them a holistic picture of drug-resistant infections and highlight some of the diverse career paths available to them.”

Dr Catherine Pickup, Director of Project Based Learning at Futures Institute said, “What a wonderful day! An exclusive exposition of the history of the development of penicillin in the History of Science museum and a superb practical session in the undergraduate Chemistry labs making novel antibiotic drugs! We feel so fortunate to have been offered the chance to learn in such an inspiring environment. Our grateful thanks to Ana and her team for the invitation.”

Related topics: