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Science Club's participation in Project M culminates with BBC interview

Senior Science Club was the focus of media attention on April 26th, the day that Diamond Light Source analysed over 1000 samples of calcium carbonate made by schools across the UK as part of Project M. This project aims to help scientists better understand the Earth’s most abundant bio-mineral, calcium carbonate, which is produced by organisms for uses such as shells, skeletal supports and even optical lenses.

DGS has been involved with the project from the beginning, working with the team at Diamond to help develop packs of equipment, chemicals and instructions which were sent out to over 100 participating schools. Each school, including DGS, then synthesised ten different samples of calcium carbonate using a variety of conditions and additives, all following the same protocol. Once the samples were filtered and dried, students put them into sample tubes which were not much wider than a human hair – an extremely delicate and time-consuming task. Finally the samples were sent to Diamond to be analysed by x-ray diffraction.

On the big day, Jessica Fuller and Lucy Coull were interviewed live by Radio Oxford and then BBC South Today filmed the girls from Science Club recreating their experiments to be shown on TV that evening. Imogen Young and Heidi Omar gave interviews explaining what they learned from the project. From 11am, DGS and the other schools watched excitedly via the live feed as a robot put their samples one by one into the beam and the diffraction data was recorded. The x-ray diffraction took many hours, and continued into the early morning of the next day.

Now the team at Diamond will start to analyse the results, which they plan to publish as a scientific paper to help develop our understanding of the material calcium carbonate. This could even lead to the development of new biomedical materials for uses such as bone grafts. Senior Science Club is proud to be part of Project M and we are looking forward to studying the data from our ten samples as well as seeing our names on the final publication. Not many students can claim to have taken part in groundbreaking research while they are still at school!


Dr Nickerson

STEM coordinator  



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