British Science Week @ Alton College

Alton College is the number 1 choice for students studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in East Hants* and has a dedicated STEM ambassador and Scientist in Residence. During this year’s British Science Week, students are undertaking a wide range of activities as part of the A level courses and are extending their classroom studies attending workshops in London and the US. 

Second year A level Chemistry students have been taking part in a week long practical looking into the synthesis of aspirin. The students were synthesizing aspirin in the lab from a naturally occurring source "Oil of Wintergreen". Having made their aspirin, they have had to purify the sample using recrystallisation and vacuum filtration in the labs and test the purity using thin layer chromatography and melting point determination. Students will also send off a small sample of their purified crystals to RLC lab in Loughborough where HPLC and IR spectroscopic analysis will be done. This lab is sponsored by Loughborough University and provides STEM education support for A level students. The results will subsequently be returned to College and will help students with their understanding of analytical techniques in A level Chemistry. Synthesis of organic molecules such as aspirin forms part of the practical endorsement for A level Chemistry and is the culmination of students work towards Module 1 -Development of practical skills in chemistry. 

Alongside this, A level Biology students have been dissecting hearts and undertaking practical sessions to measure the transport of water through plants as part of the syllabus. 

Three science students, Andy Morrish, Abi Diarra and Emma Hughes, all previously at Amery Hill School are travelling to the Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons, London to take part in a workshop called ‘Your Body, Your Consent?’ which will introduce them to several ethical issues, including consent for autopsies, tissue donation, medical research involving babies and children, commercialisation of human tissue, legislation, display of human tissue, and saviour siblings to name a few. Facilitated by pathologists, the students will have the opportunity to consider different perspectives, which have been taken from a range of sources including the public, pathologists, other medical professionals, legislative bodies and the media, as well as to share their views on controversial topics. 

Kate Willett, previously at The Petersfield School, has returned to America to the US Space & Rocket Center to continue working as a mentor as part of the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy, a project she started working on last year. Read more about her visit last year here.

Find out more about studying Science at Alton College here.

*RCU Vector benchmarking 2016