Here are a few more details of what our Sixth Form scientists have been investigating for their biology coursework:
Ayo Adeyemi gauged whether Year 7 students performing a task had their stress alleviated if there were scented candles in the room. She said: ‘Without the candles their heart rates went up after the test because they felt stressed. However some of their heart rates did go down when the candles were lit.’
Gautham Kumar tested five leading varieties of antacid. He said: ‘The equipment is designed to simulate a stomach’s temperature, movement and acidity. I dropped various antacids in to see how they performed and measured the ph of the stomach as well as the amount of gas produced. I am measuring which is the most effective in the shortest time, which one works the fastest, which works the most, which produces the least gas and which is the best value for money.
‘The hard part was getting the equipment set up in a way that was air tight as well as reliable and that it would work every time in exactly the same way. We gave each formula 15 minutes, partly out of a need to make use of the time and because you hope it would have some effect in that time frame and that was established in my pilot study. 15 minutes usually gave enough time for the antacids to finish performing and completely dissolve.’
Julia Komor set up pitfall traps to catch bugs. She said: ‘I am testing cup colour and size to tell me which is the best for capturing insects. I buried these in the ground and in my actual study I am going to test different bait; meat, fruit, ethanol and honey. So far the big cups are holding more insects because they have a larger capacity and probably because as they are taller the bugs can’t crawl out. At the moment I have caught a lot of woodlice, snails and spiders.'
'I will leave the traps for differing periods from one to four days. The research could be used for either conservation or extermination purposes as it identifies what trap and bait attracts the most insects.’
Molly Beeby used glo gel and a UV light to test the best method of handwashing. The glo gel shows up under the light and shows the areas of the hand that are typically missed out: ‘I was reading a study in Biological Science about doctors’ handwashing techniques because the only way of stopping MRSA is prevention by washing your hands. When I asked someone to do the method using the glo gel they missed the same parts, such as the fingertips, parts of the palm, around the thumb and between the fingers. The hotter the water used the more likely it is to get rid of the germs, maybe because it helps the lathering action of the soap.
'I did the experiment with alcohol gel, a foam wash, a liquid soap and a bath soaps. Bath soap and liquid soap have the same sort of effect, around 56% coverage and foaming soap turns out to be the best as it picks up the germs because of the foaming action.’
Ben Mayers was looking at how ripening affects the concentration of the enzyme bromelain in pineapples. He said: ‘So far the stem of the pineapple is the most concentrated and I am using the same pineapple over the course of a few days to chart the differences in composition.’
Alice Linden was splitting the sugars in milk into its component parts of glucose and lactose by a process of hydrolysis. She said: ‘In the community you have lactose intolerant people so it is important that they have treated milk which doesn’t make them react. This process is done on an industrial scale. I am about halfway through the experiment and my pilot study was based on the difference between skimmed and whole milk.’
Alina Smith investigated whether cheap brands of moisturiser work as effectively as their more expensive counterparts: She tested gram sized samples of Bare Minerals, Mac, Temple Spa, L’Oreal, Cien, Clinique and Lacura. She said: ‘I have got beakers of water, covered them with material and put moisturiser over the top. I will test again after a 24 hour period to check how much water has evaporated from each sample. The less evaporation the more effective a barrier the moisturiser provides.’
Ben Tansey tested the microbial effects of different grades of honey by placing samples of diluted honey on agar plates: ‘I have got different price ranges from cheap to organic, home produced honey and manuka honey. I am looking at which is the best for us and whether their prices reflect that. I think Manuka honey should be the best because it is traditionally perceived as beneficial and there has been quite a lot of research into it. The locally produced honey might be good as well because it is unprocessed.’
Jordan Smith researched the effects that eating bread has on blood sugar. This involved testing blood samples at five minute intervals. He said: ‘I am looking at white, brown, tiger and granary bread. It is very painful as I puncture my figure to get a blood sample on a strip and test it to determine my blood sugar levels. Every day for the past three days I have done it for 14 times each day. Because brown bread is made up of more complex carbohydrates it takes a longer time for the sugar to be released into the bloodstream. With white bread your blood sugar spikes immediately whereas brown bread goes up gradually.’
Daniel James studied the different ingredients in soaps: ‘I was looking to see which one was most effective in removing glo gel from the hands. I looked at the active ingredients in each soap. They all had pretty common ingredients and I was getting the same results every time; about 80 to 90 per cent removal. Now I am looking to see whether the higher priced soaps are more effective than the lower priced ones.’
Carolyn Mwarazi observed soil samples and worms on site. ‘I am looking at how the ph levels in soils affect the biomass of worms. I am diluting soil samples to make solutions then I am testing its pH. I have already found, measured and weighed the worms. I have also measured the temperature of the soil and light intensity within the ground. I expect that the warmer and more alkaline conditions would attract the bigger worms.’