This month, the School of Physical Sciences hosted 60 A-level students from across the UK for Forensic Science and Chemistry Headstart courses for a week.
Vicky Mason, Lecturer in Physics and Director of Public Engagement, explains how the week went.
“The courses are 4 day long residential events designed to give an insight into life as a University undergraduate, and to highlight the possibilities opened up by doing a degree in those subjects. This is a fantastic opportunity for A-Level Students to gain insight.
The course was kicked off with a talk to all students by Dr Will Gee about his research into Visualising latent fingermarks. The chemists then went on to do several lab based experiments including caffeine extraction from energy drinks and a computational chemistry lab run by Dr Dean Sayle. The forensic scientists learnt about different types of evidence and how to collect it, along with how to present evidence in a court of law.
Interspersed with the laboratory based activities were research talks presented by Dr Emma McCabe, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, and Dr Jen Hiscock, Lecturer in Chemistry, and industry talks presented by Don Clark from Pfizer and Mark Botting from the Fruit Advisory Services team at Brogdale Farm. The course culminated in a poster presentation by the participants which was a fantastic ending to the event with student teams defending their posters based on the topic ‘what will be a big science challenge in 5 years’.”
When asked what the most important thing they would take from the course was, students said ‘The variety within forensic science and how important details are’, ‘That forensics science has to be unbelievably meticulous in the way it is done e.g. taking pictures, evidence reports’, ‘The possibilities of research in this field and the enthusiasm of the people carrying it out’, ‘Chemistry is an extremely big subject that can lead you anywhere’, ‘The enthusiasm of the professors for their subject and the work they do and how varied the research done is and interesting’, ‘Make the most of all opportunities in front of you. I really enjoyed taking part in this course’.
Many thanks to all the students and staff involved in the planning and running of these events.