Stockport Grammar School organised its first Sustainable Science Competition this July, challenging 52 Year 10 pupils from 8 local high schools.
Pupils competed in groups of four with each team taking on the name of a famous scientist to complete an hour long task in each of the sciences.
In Biology the sustainability of the use of antibiotics in the future was investigated through a practical looking at the susceptibility of a species of bacteria to a range of antibiotics.
The Physics department tasked the competitors with constructing an electromagnet, the electromagnets were then used to transfer paperclips from one bowl, across a fixed distance to another on a mass balance. Each team had three attempts with the highest mass transfer being the victor.
Chemistry investigated the chemicals involved with biodegradable polymers. The teams performed a titration to assess the percentage degradation of a sample of polylactide by measuring the amount of the breakdown product, lactic acid, present. The pupils then went on to analyse a sample of polluted river water to investigate the concentration of aluminium ions present by precipitation with sodium benzoate, using vacuum filtration equipment to ensure maximum yield.
As the organisers of the competition there was no Stockport Grammar team, but Sixth Form scientists played their part, assisting the visiting pupils with the equipment required for each challenge.
The level of competition was high with results very close, overall victors were ‘Hawking’ team from Chapel-en-le-Frith High School, with teams ‘Hubble’ and ‘Attenborough’ from Bramhall High School and St James’ Catholic High School in joint second.
The competition aimed to inspire and challenge pupils who have a passion for science with the opportunity to use advanced lab equipment and to engage in science beyond the curriculum. Head of Chemistry Dr Annie Glarvey commented “The pupils performed their experiments really accurately and we were very impressed with their skills. A number of SGS Sixth Form scientists were on hand in the sessions to assist with the use of equipment and it was nice to see the sharing of enthusiasm for sciences between them and our visitors.”