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Budding young scientists put university research under the microscope

Schools across Newcastle have been teaming up with some of the region’s top academics to see science put into action to help society this summer.

Leading Edge, a scheme overseen by Newcastle Science City has matched researchers at Newcastle and Northumbria universities with teams of keen science pupils at schools, including Walbottle Campus, Kenton School and Sacred Heart High School, to put together projects and presentations that the youngsters will deliver to Fellows at the Royal Society – one of the world’s best known science institutions – in July.

Back in February, schools heard pitches from University research staff on three areas: ageing and health; stem cell and regenerative medicine; and sustainability, which are all areas of excellence in the city’s research offering.

Pupils from Walbottle Campus visited Newcastle University’s Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences to carry out experiments into the effects of antibiotics on bacteria with researcher Dr Phillip Aldridge.

As part of the experiment the pupils monitored the effect of two antibiotics on e.coli and watched what happened to them under a powerful microscope. The experiment forms the main part of the presentation they will give at the Royal Society on July 10th.

Dr Aldridge said: “What we’re really trying to do is get the students to think about science – and in this case microbiology – in a different way by exposing them to the research environment and some of the work we do here.

“The youngsters have been really enthusiastic and eager to get stuck in. It’s been great to show them how research can eventually lead to new drugs being developed that benefit people every day and I’m sure some of it will stick and they’ll think really hard about taking up a career in science in future.”

Karen Marshall, Education Skills and Community Engagement Manager at Newcastle Science City, commented: “The idea was to team schools with researchers was to show youngsters what happens at the cutting edge of scientific research. Amazing studies are going on every day in the North East and there’s an excellent opportunity to inspire youngsters with the thrill of research that is at the border of human understanding.”

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