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South Norfolk students join ‘Project M’ science experiment

PUBLISHED: 08:55 26 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:10 26 April 2017

Year 12 Chemistry Pupils taking part in 'Project M' at Diss High School. picture: DISS HIGH SCHOOL

Year 12 Chemistry Pupils taking part in 'Project M' at Diss High School. picture: DISS HIGH SCHOOL

Archant

It is not every day the work pupils do in the classroom ends up helping professional scientists armed with a giant X-ray microscope the size of Wembley Stadium but that is exactly what sixth-from pupils in South Norfolk have been doing.

Year 12 Chemistry Pupils taking part in 'Project M' at Diss High School. picture: DISS HIGH SCHOOL Year 12 Chemistry Pupils taking part in 'Project M' at Diss High School. picture: DISS HIGH SCHOOL

In association with Diamond Light Source, the giant particle accllerator and the Royal Society of Chemists, some 11 pupils in Year 12 Chemistry at Diss High School joined 100 other schools across the country assisting in Project M. It aims to understand how different forms of calcium carbonate - the fourth most abundant mineral on earth - are made.

Francis Lemon, head of Chemistry at Diss High School, said: “The pupils were excited to be involved in a national experiment.”

“It was great to see them engaging in science in a different context, linking what they had been taught to real life science.”

Led by Mr Lemon and a how to video from Dr Claire Murray and Dr Julia Parker who are the scientists running Project M, students prepared ten samples of calcium carbonate using specially selected additives. They had to make sure the small samples where properly labelled and remained uncontaminated before they were sent to the lab.

Year 12 Chemistry Pupils taking part in 'Project M' at Diss High School. picture: DISS HIGH SCHOOL Year 12 Chemistry Pupils taking part in 'Project M' at Diss High School. picture: DISS HIGH SCHOOL

“We do lots of experiments but this was more about inspiring the students to see the stuff that happens in a professional lab,” said Mr Lemon. “It was great to see pupils working so contentiously.”

Project M is the largest project Diamond Light Source has been involved with.

“We’re really excited to offer schools this opportunity to work with a national science facility,” said Dr Murray. “Calcium carbonate is hugely interesting.

2It can exist in different forms, and if we can understand how, and where, each form is made, we may be able to learn from nature to create futuristic biomimetic materials.”
From 11am on Wednesday, April, 26 students will be able to tune into a live feed of scientists beginning to analyse the 1000 samples submitted by schools.

The scientists aim to analyse all the samples in the space of 24 hours, the data they collect will then be sent back to schools to analysis. Once the analysis is complete, the team behind Project M hopes to produce a scientific paper.

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